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Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School

Preventing Tick Bites on Pets

Preventing tick bites on your pets is an important way to protect them, you, and your family from Lyme disease.

How do I prevent my pet from getting a tick bite?

Australian Shepherd and fluffy cat
Outdoor pets are at high risk for getting a tick bite, and can bring ticks inside.
Getty Images

Like humans, pets can get Lyme disease from a tick bite. Even if they are vaccinated or wear a tick collar, they can still bring ticks inside.

Outdoor pets can easily pick up a tick when walking or playing in grass, woods, or shrubs. Any kind of tick can bite a pet. Black-legged ticks can transmit the Lyme disease bacteria and other pathogens to your pet.

There are several ways to protect your pet:

  • vaccines, which protect your pet from getting Lyme disease if they get a tick bite

  • tick collars, which kill ticks

  • medications, which kill ticks

  • tick checks

Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention measures for your pet.

How do I perform a tick check on my pet?

Right before your pet comes inside or just as they come in the door, do a full-body tick check. It’s important to do this before your pet tracks ticks throughout the house.

First, roll a small adhesive lint roller all over your pet to help pick up ticks that you can’t see.

Then, visually and physically check your pet’s fur and body, remembering to check areas including the ears, in the folds of fur, the tail, under the collar, the belly and groin, and between the toes.

Someone running a lint roll over their dog that's lying down
Graphic illustrating common spots where you might find a tick on a dog
Rolling a lint brush over your pet will help pick up ticks you can't see. When checking your pet for ticks, pay special attention to the areas shown in the image on the right.
Getty Images (left), CDC (right)

It’s best not to let pets sleep with you because they can bring ticks into your bed. If you do allow your pet to sleep in your bed, be sure to do a thorough tick check right before bedtime.

What should I do if I find a tick on my pet?

If you find a tick on your pet, properly remove it with tweezers, and then call your veterinarian to discuss next steps. For more information, see If You Find a Tick.

 A tick being pulled out of a dog's skin with tweezers
The same technique is used to remove ticks from both pets and humans. Using tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin or fur as possible and pull straight up.
Getty Images
  • 1. Preventing ticks on your pets. CDC website, December 2018.