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Our dogs do like to be out in the fresh air, running through grass and woods – and poking their wet noses into vegetation to see what’s going on in there. Of course, we don’t want to stop this doggy behaviour – but it does put them at risk of picking up ticks.

And if we’re walking them through these kinds of outdoor spaces, we can get ticks too. All pet parents need to know some key things about ticks so we can help keep our dogs (and ourselves) protected.



They’re eight-legged arachnids that bite through skin of humans and animals to feed on their blood. 

There are different species of ticks in the UK and ticks are different sizes before and after they feed. If they’ve only just climbed onto your dog and haven’t yet fed, they’ll only be about the size of a sesame seed. Once they’ve had a feed, ticks can grow up to 200 times to reach the size of a coffee bean. 

This may all sound nasty enough, but the real issue is ticks can transmit diseases while they’re feeding. If our dogs aren’t treated with a tick product, ticks will typically stay on them for up to 10 days, feeding on their blood and increasing the chance of transmitting serious illness to them.

1 in 3 dogs in the UK are carrying ticks1

Dog laying down attentively in long grass
Close up of an latched on tick feeding
Close up of a family of ticks in the palm of a purple gloved hand

What kinds of diseases can ticks transmit to dogs?

Dogs are at risk from tick-borne diseases, more so than cats. The two most serious diseases that UK ticks can transmit to dogs are babesiosis and Lyme disease.

Signs of both these diseases include fever, loss of appetite and lack of energy, among other even more serious concerns. Learn more about the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs and babesiosis if you’re worried about your dog or want to know more. 

If you’ve seen a tick on your dog and your dog has become unwell, seek advice from your vet straight away. They’ll be able to determine if your dog does have a disease and, if so, which one so they can start on the right course of treatment.

Where do dogs get ticks?

Ticks can be picked up anywhere that has grass or vegetation where other animals have been. So, pretty much all the places our dogs like to go! This can include parks and even our own gardens. Some parts of the UK are home to specific species of tick – take a look at our article about where do dogs catch ticks? for the details pet parents need to know. 

Ticks can also hitchhike into our homes on the clothing of a human family member before falling off the clothing into our homes – and then potentially climbing onto our dogs. We’ve got some specific advice if you’ve found a tick in the house.

Close up of a tick
Close up of a tick

How can I help protect my dog against ticks?

Luckily, there are some simple steps we can take. Knowing how to check our dogs for ticks and what to look for in a tick treatment before using the treatment regularly helps us keep our dogs safer from these parasites and the diseases they can transmit. Take a look at our helpful guide covering how to protect your dog against ticks.

1 Abdullah, S. et al. (2016). Parasites & Vectors. 9:391.


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