How to protect your dog against ticks

Got questions about ticks? From “What is the most effective treatment against ticks?” to “How often do I need to check my dog for ticks?”, we’ve got you covered. Our team of veterinary experts are here to teach you how to protect your dog against ticks, so you can keep their tail wagging.

How dangerous are ticks to dogs?

Like fleas, ticks are parasites that suck blood from other animals. As they feed, they can pick up blood-borne diseases – which they can then carry from one animal to another and transmit to their offspring. Not every tick bite will make your dog unwell, because not every tick is infected. However, it’s important to know how to protect your dog against ticks because the diseases they spread can be very dangerous.

In the UK, the two most serious tick-borne diseases are canine babesiosis and Lyme disease – both of which affect dogs. Canine babesiosis causes dogs to develop severe anaemia, which can be fatal. Lyme disease can also have serious symptoms in dogs and even cause complications like kidney failure and heart disease.

How do dogs get ticks?

It’s very easy for dogs to pick up ticks – in fact, 1 in 3 dogs in the UK are carrying ticks. Ticks sit on vegetation, waving their forelimbs in the air and waiting to climb onto a host. When your dog walks past, ticks will grab hold of their hair and climb on. Then, they’ll firmly attach themselves to your dog by biting through the skin.

So, if you’ve been wondering “How do dogs get ticks?”, the answer is usually while walking in parks, fields, heaths and woodland. However, your dog could come across ticks in any wooded or grassy areas, including your garden. Ticks are active all year round, but the risk is higher from spring until the end of autumn: this is when the temperature and humidity conditions are most favourable.

How can I protect my dog against ticks?

Pet parents often ask us how to prevent ticks on dogs. The most effective way to minimise the risk to your dog is by using an effective tick treatment, such as FRONTLINE TRI-ACT®, as well as regularly checking your dog for ticks and removing any you spot.


What is the most effective treatment against ticks?

To provide your dog with the best protection against ticks, use a product that:

  • has been thoroughly tested
    Although there are many folk remedies for removing and treating ticks, none have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective. Many of these remedies are not suitable for dogs – such as essential oils, some of which can be very harmful to pets. We recommend only using a tick treatment that has been extensively evaluated, to give you the peace of mind that it will work on your dog and be safe.
  • kills ticks
    Many flea treatments for dogs will only kill fleas, not ticks. Other products will protect your dog from a range of parasites, such as FRONTLINE TRI-ACT®, which is effective against fleas, ticks and flying insects.

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  • tackles all main species of ticks
    There are three main species of tick across Europe: Ixodes, Dermacentor and Rhipicephalus. It’s important to check that the product you’re using is effective against all of them. All FRONTLINE® treatments have been proven to kill these three species of tick.


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  • repels ticks
    A product that is repellent will make your dog’s skin and coat irritable to ticks, encouraging any ticks that climb onto your dog to quickly climb off again. FRONTLINE TRI-ACT® not only repels ticks, but also kills any that remain on your dog within 6 hours**.


  • you apply regularly
    Although many people think ticks are only a risk in the warmer months, the risk is year-round. To make sure your dog gets optimal protection, apply their treatment at the recommended intervals: this is 4 weeks for all FRONTLINE® products.

How do I apply a tick treatment to my dog?

FRONTLINE TRI-ACT® is easy to use:

  1. Hold the pipette upright, away from face and body.
  2. Cut the pipette tip with scissors.
  3. Part the dog’s fur between the base of the skull and the shoulder blades until the skin is visible.
  4. Place the tip of the pipette on the skin and squeeze to empty the contents onto the skin: half halfway down the neck and half in front of the shoulder blades.
  5. Do not bathe the dog or let them swim for 2 days after application.

Once applied, the treatment will naturally spread over your dog’s body. Fleas, ticks and flying insects will be killed when they make contact with your dog’s skin and coat – not just when they bite, which is the way that some other products work.

Wait for the application sites to dry before stroking or cuddling your dog, or letting children play with them. FRONTLINE TRI-ACT® is water-resistant after 48 hours, so don’t give your dog a bath or let them swim before then; and no more than once a week thereafter.


How can I check my dog for ticks?

Unlike fleas, which can irritate dogs and cause them to scratch and itch, ticks are less likely to change your dog’s behaviour. Although ticks can cause discomfort, a local infection and inflammation, your dog probably won’t feel anything when they’re first bitten, and ticks secrete enzymes while feeding that have an anaesthetic effect.

Ticks can be hard to spot on your dog. They’ll latch on at a furry location where they won’t easily be seen, like between toes, under elbows and around ears. What’s more, ticks are very small: when they first climb on your dog, they are only about the size of a sesame seed. You’re more likely to spot them a few days later, as they can grow up to 200 times after they’ve been feeding.

The best way to check your dog for ticks is with your hands, not your eyes. Carefully comb through your dog’s fur with your fingers, feeling for bumps on their skin. Remember to check your dog’s ears, face, elbows and feet – these are some of the spots ticks like best, as they find them cosiest.

How often do I need to check my dog for ticks?

The risk of ticks transmitting a disease to your dog increases the longer they remain attached and feeding, so it’s important to kill or remove them as soon as possible. It’s recommended to regularly check your dog for ticks. A good time to do this is when you come back home from a walk, or when you give your dog their daily brush.

It’s still possible to miss ticks on your dog, even if you look for them regularly. That’s why using a tick treatment is so important: it’ll get to work killing ticks before you even notice they’re on your dog.

My dog has a tick – what should I do?

It’s important that you know how to remove a tick on dogs as soon as you see it – and safely. Accidentally leaving the head or mouthpart behind can cause discomfort to your dog, and even an infection in some cases. What’s more, unless you know how to remove a tick on dogs correctly, you may increase the risk of disease transmission. When a tick is stressed, it will spit some of its stomach contents back into the host animal, which could contain infectious agents responsible for tick-borne diseases.

Do not try to remove a tick by:

  • using rubbing alcohol, oil, or butter
  • pulling or squeezing the tick
  • freezing or burning the tick
  • using tweezers

I removed a tick from my dog – what should I do now?

Once you’ve safely removed a tick from your dog, either wrap it in a tissue and place it in your bin or put it in a sealed food bag in your freezer. Preserving the tick in this way could help your vet with disease identification if your dog later becomes unwell. The species of tick can help to narrow down the possible diseases, and your vet may be able to carry out tests on the tick to discover which it was carrying. If you’d rather dispose of the tick, make a note of its size or take a picture – this can help your vet estimate how long it was feeding on your dog.

Ticks can transmit diseases to humans as well as pets, so always wash your hands after removing them from your dog.

Even if you’ve spotted and removed one tick, there may be more on your dog – including tick larvae and nymphs. So it’s a good idea to use a tick treatment if you’ve not applied one in the last four weeks or so – don’t apply tick treatments any closer than the product’s minimum treatment interval. FRONTLINE TRI-ACT® kills newly arriving ticks and fleas on your dog within 6 hours** and keeps working for the whole duration of treatment. It also repels ticks for 4 weeks, reducing the risk of ticks biting your dog in the first place.

How can I tell if my dog has a tick-borne disease?

Unfortunately, tick-borne diseases can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms can vary from dog to dog, and often aren’t specific to a single disease, which means vets may have to rule out other possible causes.

Although Lyme disease often causes a recognisable rash in humans, it can be harder to spot in dogs. The most common clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs are:

  • fever
  • lameness
  • muscle pain
  • lack of energy
  • loss of appetite

Canine babesiosis can vary from severe to mild or intermittent symptoms, including:

  • fever
  • lack of energy
  • loss of appetite
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
  • vomiting
  • pale gums
  • red-coloured urine
  • joint stiffness

Tick-borne diseases can be very serious, so seek advice from your vet if your dog is unwell and has, or has recently had, a tick.

Now you know how to prevent ticks on dogs, you can go have fun with your pet while keeping them protected! If have any questions or want more help, check out our dog advice pages.

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Got a question about fleas, ticks or worms? We can help! Take a look at our FAQs or send us a message.

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