Ticks on Dog’s Ears: How to Remove and Prevent Them

Written by Volia Schubiger
Published: November 22, 2022
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The best way to enjoy the outdoors with your dog is to take it for a long, well-deserved walk. Sadly though, dogs who go on hikes often are more likely to get ticks. In addition to being gross and dangerous, ticks can easily transmit diseases to people and pets. Most of them live in grassy or woodland areas throughout the United States. The process of checking for ticks on humans is relatively straightforward. However, it is much more difficult to detect concealed ticks in dogs. To prevent ticks from infesting your dog, you must monitor and remove them using a specific strategy.

You can learn all about removing ticks from your dog’s ears and preventing them from coming back. Below, you can find out all about it!

Dog Ear Ticks: The Dangers

bloodhound running through the grass

Ticks can attach themselves to your dog during a walk through a grassy area.


To begin with, you need to understand why ticks are so dangerous to your dogs in the first place. Ticks are usually picked up by dogs when they go outside. A tick is likely to attach to a living animal when it passes by grass blades, shrubs, or even trees. Ticks wait around on these grasses for opportunities to bite. Once your dog walks past the tick, it detects your dog and gets on its body. A tick bite can occur to any dog who goes outside. Regardless of whether your dog goes on a short walk or an extensive hike through the woods. 

It can be difficult to tell what a tick looks like on a dog once it has taken up residence on them. Most of the time, they seek refuge and shelter in warm, safe places. There are a variety of places where ticks like to hide. These include the armpits and leg pits, between toes, under the collar, and behind the ears. Although ticks can be found everywhere on dogs, they are more commonly found in the ears. Dogs with ear ticks in their ear canals are at a greater risk than those with ticks in any other location. Ticks in this location can be particularly difficult to locate. They can also cause infections in the ear and even deafness in some cases. 

Ticks of all types can transmit diseases, but each type of tick carries a different disease. In addition to Lyme disease, ticks can spread other diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tick paralysis. Dogs can contract diseases from ticks in just a few hours in some cases. 

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Ear Ticks

how far can dogs hear

Tick bites can cause no symptoms in some dogs. Others may scratch their ears or shake their heads.

©Mary Swift/Shutterstock.com

Ticks can live on your dog’s ear and show no signs of being there. In some cases, ear ticks will cause dogs to shake their heads or scratch their ears, while in others they will not. If you have searched carefully for a tick and can’t find one, then you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible to rule out an ear infection. Whenever you take your dog out for an outing with high tick exposure, like walking in the park or going for a hike, you should check their ears and their bodies for ticks. Although ticks are most active in summer and fall, they can be active at any time of year. 

Do not hurry through this process, and make sure to thoroughly examine your dog’s entire body, looking for lumps that were previously not present. Whenever you feel a bump on the skin, spread the hair over it and look for a bright red, dark brown, or black dot on the skin. By turning the ears over, you can check the outside as well as the inside. If you can, look as far as possible into the ear canal. Examine your dog’s feet from top to bottom. Long or thick-haired dogs may require additional time for this process. 

A tick can be as small as a pinpoint or as large as a grape. When a tick is not feeding, it will be mainly flat and hard. As far as the appearance and feel are concerned, they are like small scabs at this stage. Adult ticks have eight legs, and it is likely that you will be able to observe them moving. During feeding, ticks become engorged, meaning their back parts swell much bigger than when they started. When ticks are full of blood, they appear gray, light brown, or beige.

Getting Rid of Ticks in Dog’s Ears

A Jack Russell terrier receives ear treatment at a veterinary clinic

You should take your pup to the vet as soon as possible if you are not confident that you can remove the tick fully from its ears.

©Viktoriia Hnatiuk/Shutterstock.com

Getting rid of ear ticks on dogs is similar to getting rid of ticks anywhere else on the body, but there are a few differences. Some dogs don’t like to have their ears touched because they’re very sensitive. Make your dog feel calm by giving him treats for touching his ear. The tick should be removed by your veterinarian if your dog does not cooperate by staying still. It isn’t worth risking your health or the bond between you and your dog to aggravate them in an attempt to remove the tick. 

You can remove ticks with tweezers or with special tools designed for tick removal. To remove the tick completely, it is necessary to remove both the head and the mouth. Leaving them behind can cause your dog pain and spread disease to him. 

Here are the steps to properly remove a tick:

Step 1

Put on gloves and keep your dog as calm as possible.

Step 2

Keep a firm grip on your dog’s ear while wearing gloves. You can use a cotton ball or a cotton swab to rub rubbing alcohol around the tick using your other hand. A cotton swab or cotton ball can be directly applied to the tick as well.

Step 3

Remove the tick fully. Make sure you pull out the tick in a straight line. Take care not to twist, and check to see if the tick left any parts of its mouth or head behind.

Step 4

The tick should be placed in a container with rubbing alcohol. Dead ticks can be thrown in the trash after they have been removed. Furthermore, on the chance that your dog displays symptoms of disease, it is recommended that you keep the dead tick. Tests can be conducted on the tick to determine if it carries any disease.

Step 5

Ensure that the bite site is clean by using an antiseptic spray. A veterinarian should be consulted if the area becomes red and inflamed. Don’t forget to reward your pet for being so calm by giving them a treat, or petting them. Also, don’t forget to tell them how wonderful they are!

How to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Ear Ticks

As a rule of thumb, you can prevent your dog from getting ear ticks by keeping him on a flea and tick treatment all year round. If you visit your veterinarian, they are likely to have a number of prescription options that are safe and effective. As a pet owner, you have the right to choose the type of prevention that you will be using. Consider not only the efficacy of a product but also its safety for your particular pet, as well as its ease of use. 

A collar, a topical tick preventative, or an oral tick preventative should be used by your dog almost all year round. Even just going outside to get some fresh air can lead to a tick bite due to the fact that ticks spend the winter on wildlife. 

After a walk through the woods or a stroll through tall grass with your dog, be sure to check your dog for ticks. You should take a look at both sides of the ear as well as deep as you can into the canal of the ear. Be sure to keep your dog off any soft furnishings until you are sure that any tick, even if it is dead, has been removed.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Barna Tanko

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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