How to spot ticks on your dog

The main tick species that can affect your dog in Malaysia is the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). The impact of tick infestation is quite significant. They can cause serious and life-threatening conditions if left untreated.   

How to spot tick
How to spot tick

Why ticks are dangerous for your dog?

Most ticks need humidity and mild weather to survive. Malaysia’s perfect climate is literally the ideal breeding and surviving ground for them. For this reason, they can be found throughout the year. So, you should always be alert to their presence and keep your dog protected with an effective tick control product all-year-round.

Brown dog ticks may cause skin irritation and heavy infestations may result in anaemia from excessive blood loss. They are also the carrier or vector for various pathogens, including rickettsia and other types of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. These infectious agents may be transmitted to your dog by tick bites,  causing severe and potentially fatal diseases known as Tick-borne diseases (TBD).  

In Malaysia, three most common tick-borne diseases in dogs are babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.
Because individual ticks can harbour more than one disease-causing agent, patients can be infected with more than one pathogen at the same time, compounding the difficulty in diagnosis and treatment.

Finding ticks on your dog

When a tick first attaches to your dog, they are small and difficult to find. They enlarge as they feed, so the longer they are attached, the easier they are to find. Unfortunately, the longer they are attached, the more likely they are to cause problems.

The majority of ticks on dogs can be found around the head and neck area, however they can be anywhere on the body so checking all over is required. It is recommended to check your dog for ticks daily, even if they are on a tick control product. And remember, you’re more likely to feel the tick than to see it, so make sure to use your hands to feel along your dog’s skin and give a thorough check - especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors.

To find ticks, it is recommended to run your fingers through your dog's coat, feeling the skin surface carefully as you go. Pay particular attention to those hidden or hard to reach areas like under the collar and chin, between the toes, the paws, gum-line, lips, eyes and inside the ears. And don’t forget to feel along their body, making sure to check their belly, and then down their back legs and genital region, as ticks can be found there, as well as on the tail.