A dog in the wrong place at the wrong time can be bit by dozens or even hundreds of ticks. Deer ticks go through three stages of life (larva, nymph, and adult), and feed only once in each of these stages; a blood meal ends each stage.
Larval ticks dine on mice and other small rodents, but nymphs and adults are a threat to dogs.
Because they are small and their bites don’t itch, ticks are easily overlooked, especially adult deer ticks and the nymphs of any species. Ticks prefer warm, moist conditions, so double-check under collars and around ears. If you aren’t sure what a lump or bump is, inspect it with a magnifying glass. Warts, similar skin growths, and nipples can feel like feeding ticks.
Be careful when removing a tick to grasp it with tweezers firmly at the head, as close to the dog’s skin as possible, and slowly pull straight back. Never twist, press, burn, or apply irritating substances like kerosene to an attached tick because doing so can cause the parasite to expel the contents of its digestive tract, creating an unwanted hypodermic effect.
Three-percent hydrogen peroxide, the common disinfectant, is recommended for tick bites because the oxygen it contains destroys the Lyme disease bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide can be liberally poured over bites on light-haired dogs (keep away from eyes and apply directly to the skin) but because it’s a bleach, this method is not recommended for black or dark-haired dogs.
Using an eyedropper to apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the bite helps prevent unwanted bleaching.
For more advice on ways to avoid and deal with ticks, download the ebook Ticks and Canine Lyme Disease, available exclusively from Whole Dog Journal.