What Does a Tick Bite Look Like on Dogs & Next Steps to Take

Tick bite or mosquito bite? It can be hard to tell under all that fur. We’ve got you covered — here’s what you need to know about identifying and caring for tick bites on dogs.

identifying tick bites on dogs tick on dog face
Once you identify a tick bite on a dog, ensure that it doesn’t get infected. ©kozorog/Getty Images
Last Updated on November 17, 2023 by Dogster Team

Here’s how to easily identify tick bites on dogs:

1. The site of a tick bite on a dog will have a small red bump like a mosquito bite.

2. Tick bites should not make your dog itch.

3. Tick bites on your dog will go away on their own in a few days. But, there’s still the risk of infection, even if your dog takes preventative tick medication and you’ve completely removed the tick.

What are signs of infection from tick bites on a dog?

  • Your dog is scratching the old tick bite wound
  • Worsening or continued redness at the site of the tick bite
  • Weeping or oozing around the tick bite wound

Ticks can spread diseases to your dog that vary in severity, such as:

These diseases can be prevented with preventative tick medication. Talk with your veterinarian for recommendations.  

How to identify a tick on a dog

It’s hard to notice a tick on a dog with dark or long fur because ticks are small and dark-colored. Adult ticks are the size of apple seeds, nymph ticks are the size of poppy seeds and larvae are the size of grains of sand. All ticks, no matter what stage in the lifecycle, are some combination of brown, black, and/or tan. Some will also have one or multiple white spots, or white streaks, on their backs. 

how to identify a tick bite on a dog picture of tick bite
An unengorged tick may be as small as a grain of sand. Luckily, this tick bite was easily spotted because of the dog’s light fur and the tick was larger. Check your dog’s fur regularly for ticks. ©Nancy Kerns

Although there are 15 species of ticks in the U.S., there are eight that commonly parasitize dogs:

  1. American Dog Tick
  2. Brown Dog Tick
  3. Deer Tick or Black-Legged Tick
  4. Gulf Coast Tick
  5. Lone Star Tick
  6. Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
  7. Spinose Ear Tick
  8. Western Black-Legged Tick

For more information about these ticks plus pictures, check out the Companion Animal Parasite Councils (CAPC) list of canine ticks.

Where do you find ticks on a dog?

Check for ticks in your dog’s  six “warm” areas: 

  • Ears
  • Neck
  • Armpits
  • Face
  • Groin
  • Tail
how to identify a tick bite on a dog tick on dog's ear
Ears are common hotspots for ticks on dogs. ©Nancy Kerns

What are the next steps to take after identifying a tick on your dog?

If the tick is still there, remove it with tweezers or special tick removal tweezers. Check out Dogster’s step-by-step instructions in our article How to Remove a Tick. Once you remove it:

  • Put the tick in alcohol to kill it — you can save it to show your vet
  • Disinfect the dog’s skin and the tweezers with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
  • Watch for infection at the site
  • Make an appointment for your vet to tick test your dog for tick-borne diseases.

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