Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.
Most dogs love playing outside where they are exposed to all kinds of insects. It’s important to learn the proper procedures to help make sure that your German Shepherd doesn’t get ticks. In case they do get ticks, learn how to remove them.
Ticks are common in many parts of the world, and if you live in a place where ticks are common, then you’ll want to make sure that you know how to get rid of them. This article will explain to you the tools and procedure for getting rid of ticks on your Shepherd and the potential dangers that might arise if you don’t do this!
What Makes Ticks so Annoying?
The very concept of a tick is annoying to us because they survive as parasites by sucking blood from us. Ticks are most often found in wooded areas and fields; not only are they bothersome but they can actually carry serious diseases that can affect both humans and animals.
Once a tick gets a good grip on your dog, it’ll begin to suck blood. It usually takes a few hours for them to get a firm enough grip to actually suck blood; if you catch it before this, it will probably be easier to remove.
Ticks continue sucking blood for up to 10 days, and during this time, they may transfer disease to your dog. Ticks can carry a number of diseases, including:
- Lyme disease
- Tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF)
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
All of these diseases can be disastrous for you and your dog, and it’s best to make sure that you get the ticks off as soon as you can.
The Best Method: Tick Prevention
The best method for managing any condition or symptom is to simply avoid it in the first place. To do this, you’re going to want to take preventative measures to help make sure that your dog doesn’t get ticks at all.
There are a few things that you can do to help prevent this:
- Do regular checks if you live in an area where ticks are known to exist. Daily checks if you have an infestation, especially every time you come back inside. This will help to prevent any ticks from actually latching on to your dog if you are able to grab them before they are able to start sucking blood. It’s important to remember that ticks can get inside pretty easily, so even if you have an indoor day it’s still good to check your dog.
- Additionally, get your veterinarian to check for ticks: they are more proficient at doing full-body searches and will be able to get ticks out of any hard-to-reach areas that they might have made their way into.
- If your garden has a lot of ticks you should consider changing some of the plants and bushes, clean up the garden, clean up areas with a lot of moisture and create barriers, etc.
- Avoid going to tick-infested areas. A field where ticks are known to flourish, for example, is obviously not a great place to take your dog. Finding a special park that is believed to be tick-free can be a great help.
Checking for Ticks on German Shepherds
If you weren’t able to prevent your dog from getting ticks, then you will want to know the places that they are most likely to appear on your dog. Remember, ticks can latch on anywhere on your dog—these places just require a bit of special attention.
- Up by the ears and behind the ear flaps
- On the eyebrows
- Near the shoulder blades and back
- The upper, meaty part of the leg
Remember that ticks are looking for blood, so they are prone to attaching themselves in areas where blood can be easily found.
If you’re going to be removing the tick, then you can just use your fingers. However, as anyone who has pulled a tick out of their own skin will attest, it hurts a bit; it may be something that we can live through as humans, but your dog might wonder why you’re repeatedly subjecting them to such a strong pinching and pulling sensation.
One of the ways to do this is to get a tick puller. These tools are kind of like a set of pliers, and you can use these to pull out the tick. You should be able to twist and pull the entire tick out—and this is what you want to do. Sometimes a little bit of the tick gets stuck in the body; you should take extra care to remove this as well.
My German Shepherds didn’t have ticks often. In my country and where we live ticks are rather rare. I use a kind of tick puller or 'plier'. With it, you can grab the tick, twist, and pull it out as a whole. We have other tick removal tools, one that you just have to pull up. With the right technique, there are enough decent tools that work well and removing ticks completely in one smooth motion.
Always make sure you’ve pulled out the tick completely, 95% of the time you probably have, just make sure otherwise the dogs can get an infection or some ticks can partially regrow.
Tick Prevention Products for Dogs
There are a lot of tick prevention products out there that are marketed for helping dogs. Unfortunately, a lot of these products are filled with just as many synthetic compounds as most of the insect repellant that’s made for humans. Dogs are much more sensitive than humans in some ways, so you wouldn’t want to subject them to these dangerous chemicals unless your veterinarian sees no other valid options.
When you live in an area without many ticks or tick disease, you probably don’t need prevention products. You’ll suffice in removing a tick a couple of times a year. I’ve never needed products, but I’ve known people and dog handlers that really needed them. If the issue is serious you don’t have that many options and you should follow the advice of your vet.
- Synthetic pesticides made for dogs usually contain compounds that repel insects. Some contain Fipronil, a compound that could be stored in the dog’s tissues and could be related to some health issues. You’ll find it in a lot of Frontline and similar products. There is a big difference between treating when necessary and using a product for regular prevention. Fipronil is said not to be absorbed substantially through the skin compared to other compounds. Products with Fipronil are less dangerous than most of the pesticides used decades ago, but that doesn’t mean they should be used carelessly.
- There are tick-repellant powders that often contain Pyrethrin. This class of compounds has a long history. Some Pyrethrins have been shown to be toxic to humans (mostly variations of irritation), and there’s no reason to suspect that they wouldn’t be toxic to dogs. Some studies on rats found a higher likelihood for (liver) cancer with prolonged exposure to high doses. Recent generation organic products with Pyrethrin are considered some of the safer products, but this doesn’t mean healthy. Also, check out the difference between Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids.
- Many tick shampoos are also known to contain Pyrethrin.
- There are tick-repellent sprays which, again, often contain Pyrethrin. Spraying Pyrethrin into the air means that both you and your dog will both be inhaling this genotoxic compound. Do not use as regular prevention, sometimes used for short term treatment. When used, make sure not to inhale and use on eyes or mouth and other sensitive areas. Use outside and not on puppies/very young dogs.
Vet-Approved Preventatives Are the Gold Standard
When having a serious tick problem, natural alternatives are often not a substitute for vet-approved sprays, shampoos, tick collars or drops. There is a lot of variation in scale. Some people see a couple of ticks a year and removal without chemical products will suffice. Others have eight ticks on a dog’s ear in a day and need prevention or treatment. Try to avoid using products with compounds like Pyrethrin when possible, but use them when they prevent greater harm. Read up on possible health issues by these and related compounds with prolonged exposure.
Instead of killing or preventing ticks on German Shepherd dogs with chemicals that could cause health issues in you and your dog, you could consider some natural alternatives.
- You can make a bug deterrent with lemongrass and citronella oil – a popular and effective alternative to products like DEET or Pyrethrin. Mixing 10 drops of each oil into a spray bottle with vinegar can help your dog avoid ticks.
- One recipe for tick prevention involves mixing several drops each of geranium (contains organic Pyrethrin), rosewood, lavender, myrrh, and bay leaf essential oil with a half-shot of vodka and a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin.
Most natural options are not able to stop a serious tick infestation but can help you prevent some of the damage.
Instead of spraying your dog with insecticides, you could have your yard done with something that is preferably non-toxic for dogs and humans and/or keep your dog indoors a couple of days when treating your garden. Every tick you keep out is one less tick you’ll have to remove.
© 2019 Sam Shepards
Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on June 13, 2019:
Could be ok, don't know if there are a lot of breeders or rescues where you live. In my country we normally never take a puppy home before 8 weeks, in some other places it's 7 weeks.
I also always go check before etc.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 13, 2019:
So interesting. We used to have to look like Monkeys cleaning each other's hair. Dogs more so. Thanks. Still dropping by the pound but the nice/good GS get swooped up fast.
Is there an adoption Worldwide group?
What do you think; /////
How To Get Rid Of Ticks Instantly 4 All
If you've got a dog or children (which sometimes appears the same), you've likely wondered more than once:
Dogs and ticks, the forced-upon duality, isn't it?
Certainly if you haven't got a couch dog but an outdoor dog. Like the German Shepherd, yes.
So here, the ULTIMATE guidance how to get rid of ticks!
And how to prevent ticks in the first place!
I left out the Latin names of the ticks, as no one needs them here. To make it as simple for you as the last Periodical on fleas, just click where you are based to see the locally prevalent ticks and tick diseases. You will then be led through to all important points thereafter:
- Ticks in North America
- Ticks in South America
- Ticks in Australia and New Zealand
- Ticks in Europe (and UK, yes of course! )
- Ticks in Asia
- Ticks in Africa
- Ticks for everyone
- Tick types ('tick families')
- Tick questing video! Watch this
- Tick pictures - including tick anatomy! Watch these
- Tick life cycle!
- Tick habitats
- How to get rid of ticks! Watch and share this knowledge
- How to take care of your dog after tick removal
- Tick poisoning
- How to prevent ticks! Share these insights
Dog Ticks and Fleas Q&A
WebMD veterinary experts answer commonly asked questions about fleas and ticks on your dog.
Although there are more than 2,200 kinds of fleas, it only takes one type to cause a lot of misery for you and your pet. We went to internationally known flea and tick expert Michael Dryden to find out how to fight fleas and eliminate ticks. Dryden has a doctorate in veterinary parasitology, is a founding member of the Companion Animal Parasite Council, and has conducted research on almost every major flea and tick product on the market.
Q: How did my dog get these fleas and ticks?
A: The way animals get fleas is some other flea-infested animal - a stray dog or stray cat, or some other neighbors’ dog or cat, or urban wildlife, mainly opossums and raccoons - went through your neighborhood, your yard, and the female flea is laying eggs and the eggs are basically rained off into your environment. We call them a living salt shaker. And then those eggs developed into adults and those fleas jumped onto your pet. That’s how it happened.
Dogs generally get ticks because they’re out in that environment, walking through the woods or high grass, and these ticks undergo what’s called questing, where they crawl up on these low shrubs or grass, generally 18 to 24 inches off the ground and they basically hang out. And when the dog walks by or we walk by and brush up against these ticks they dislodge and get onto us. Ticks don’t climb up into trees. That’s an old myth. They just lie in wait for us. It’s sort of an ambush strategy. They can live well over a year without feeding.
Q: Can fleas and ticks cause my dog to get sick? What kinds of illnesses can they get from them?
A: Probably the most common thing is, when these fleas are feeding, they’re injecting saliva into the skin. These salivary proteins are often allergenic and animals end up with allergy. The most common skin disease of dogs and cats is what’s called flea allergy dermatitis, where they bite and scratch and lose their hair. It can take only a few fleas for this allergy to become a problem.
If you have a lot of fleas, since they’re blood-sucking insects, especially if you have puppies, pets can become anemic and even die with heavy infestations. Fleas also commonly transmit tapeworms to our pets, at least one species.
With ticks, there are a dozen to 15 or more tick-transmitted diseases that our pets get from ticks. There’s Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and more. Many of these diseases can kill pets.
Q: Are fleas and ticks worse in some areas? Where?
A: Ticks and fleas can be worse from one area to another and can vary seasonally and from year to year. There’s one particular flea species that we find on dogs and cats in North America that predominates . called Ctenocephalides felis, or the cat flea. That flea is very susceptible to drying. So that's why there are more fleas in Tampa than in Kansas City, and more fleas in Kansas City than Denver. Once you get into the Rocky Mountain states, for example, or even the Western areas of the plains states, fleas on dogs and cats are not that much of a problem because it’s just too dry. The Gulf Coast region of North America and the Southeast region are the flea capital. As you move inland, however, depending on the rainfall in a given year, it can be OK or get very horrid at times.
Ticks have different biologies and behaviors, of course. And certain areas have more tick problems than others. The upper Midwest and the extreme Northeast, from Pennsylvania up, have a very serious problem with the Lyme disease tick. But if you get down to the south central part of the United States, ticks also can be absolutely horrible. There are very few places in North America you can’t encounter ticks today, because there are so many different ticks.
Q: Can I stop using preventives in winter months, when all the fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are dead?
A: It depends on where you’re located. In most of the United States, my answer today is “No” for various reasons. There are so many different tick species, and fleas can be a problem even late into the fall. If you get into some of the more northern states or into Canada, where they have very long, protracted winters, then it could be reasonable for several months. But even here in Eastern Kansas I don’t recommend stopping. We’ve only got about 40-45 days a year when we don’t see ticks.
Q: I know about Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but now I’m hearing about new diseases my dog can get from ticks. Are these diseases rare? How worried should I be about my dog contracting a tick-borne disease?
A: It depends on where you live. Some of these diseases are local. What you have to do is, depending on where you live, talk to your veterinarian and find out what diseases are important in your area. The diseases that are important to dogs and cats in Kansas are not the same diseases that are important to dogs and cats in Connecticut.
Q: An environmental group has sued several pet stores and manufacturers claiming that flea collars have high concentrations of chemicals in them that are dangerous to pets and people. Are these over-the-counter flea collars safe?
A: I’m not a toxicologist and I try to steer clear of all that. But I will say that I believe the best way to manage fleas and ticks is go to your veterinarian and find out what products they recommend for your area. The issue we have with many of the over-the-counter products is that many are what we call pyrethroids, or synthetic pyrethrins. We know that is a class of insecticides that fleas are commonly resistant to, so one of the reasons over-the-counter formulations don’t work very well is that fleas are resistant to them. What that leads to is people tend to over apply them because they didn’t work that well and then you tend to have problems.
Q: There are also reports that the EPA is looking into an increase in adverse reactions from topically applied flea control products, the ones we usually put on our dogs and cats between their shoulder blades. So are these unsafe?
A: I generally believe, based on my experience and our field studies, that the products we get from our veterinarians are generally very safe and generally do a very, very good job. But you’ve got to understand that millions of doses are used each year. With that many doses, things happen. Do rare reactions occur? Absolutely. We know they do. But generally with a veterinary-recommended or prescribed flea or tick product, if they are used according to label directions, they are extremely safe in my experience.
Q: What are the best ways to control fleas and ticks?
A: Besides the flea products we’ve discussed, if you have a cat, don’t ever let it go outside. Try to keep your home as dry as possible. I would recommend not having any carpet because carpet is a flea’s best friend. Keep the brush and weeds in your yard to an absolute minimum.
Q: Are there natural ways I can control them if I don’t want to use chemicals?
A: There really aren’t from a natural standpoint. Over the years, we’ve spent some time looking into the more natural or holistic approaches and as yet I’ve not found any that’s actually effective. The garlic, the brewer’s yeast, all the research shows none of that stuff works. If it did, I’d be using it. The ultrasonic devices? The data shows they don’t work.
And just because something is “natural” or “organic” that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Most of the poisons in the world are actually organic poisons. Some of these citric extracts people used to use can be fairly toxic to cats. The cats’ livers just can’t handle them.
There is diatomacious earth, which is basically microscopic silicone particles that can be spread around in your carpet. They scratch or excoriate the flea larvae. But you’ve got to be a little careful. You don’t want to inhale the stuff, because now you’ve inhaled silicone particles into your lungs and where’s that going to go? There are pesticide control firms that apply that stuff appropriately, and when they do it’s very effective and it’s safe. But just make sure if you have somebody do it in your house it’s done appropriately. It’s a very good larvacidal and a flea preventive measure if it’s done correctly.
Q: How can I control fleas and ticks in my yard?
A: Cut the tall grass, trim back the bushes and shrubs, then rake up all the leaf litter under the bushes. Leave it just bare ground. There are some lawn and garden insecticides that are approved by the EPA to be applied under shrubs, under bushes, in crawl spaces, along fence lines, to control fleas and ticks outside. The big issue I see is people tend to go out and start spraying their grass. That’s not effective and it’s certainly not good for the environment. Fleas and ticks are really sunlight and humidity sensitive. Most situations where we find them are under shrubs, under bushes, under porches, in shaded, protected habitats. So we should only be applying those compounds in a limited fashion under those locations. Then we’re going to let it dry on the foliage for three to four hours before we allow our pets and our children back out there.
4 Essentials to Have on Hand
1. Supply of Tick Control Treatment
During tick season, you want to ensure you have a steady supply of whichever tick control treatment you have decided to use. If it’s topical or oral, it’s usually administered on a monthly basis, so you want to make sure you have it on hand and aren’t skipping any applications.
2. Tick Collar
It’s also a good idea to pair these treatments with a tick collar. This will help repel ticks away from your pup and help to prevent bites. A tick collar paired with other methods is particularly useful if the tick season ends up being a bad one.
3. Tick Spray
Tick spray can be used sparingly for an added protective barrier when your dog is outside. Tick sprays are usually safe for use on puppies that are at least 12 weeks or older. A light spray over the legs, stomach, and tail should be sufficient.
4. Tick Shampoo
Tick shampoo is another good essential to have on hand, just in case. If you see ticks on your dog or are concerned they may have some after a romp outside, a bath with tick shampoo will take of it.
With these strategies in place and essentials in your corner, you and your pup can navigate tick season safely.