Illustration of where on the dog a tick bites

Ticks on dogs 

Unfortunately, ticks on dogs are becoming more and more common, especially for those who enjoy walking in forests and fields. The tick population has increased in recent years in the Nordic nature, partly due to an increase in deer, overgrowth of vegetation and changes in climate. We explain what to do if your dog has been bitten by ticks and what preventive measures you can take! 

What exactly are ticks?

The tick is a blood-sucking parasite, similar to a kind of small spider. It lives in forests, grass and other vegetation, but will bite down to suck blood from humans and animals at every opportunity. The tick can also carry infectious agents from other animals and spread disease to the next host. They are often found lurking on a blade of grass, waiting for a passing victim to jump on. So ticks can be a plague and a nuisance (literally) for dog owners, especially during the summer months. 

Where to find ticks?

The tick is found on virtually all continents, and over 900 species have been identified with different geographical distributions. In Norway, the forest tick (Ixodes ricinus) is the most widespread, especially in the south and on the west coast. It is also known by a number of other names, such as cockchafer, wood tick or tege. 

When is tick season in Norway?

The tick season in Norway is usually said to last from March to November. The tick is active from early spring when it starts to get milder than 4-5 degrees Celsius. However, we live in a vast country with a changing climate, and the tick season can therefore vary depending on where you are. 

Tick-borne diseases in dogs

Most ticks do not carry disease, but in some cases a tick bite can carry infection. As the tick population has generally increased, the number of cases of disease has also increased in recent decades. If a dog becomes ill as a result of a tick bite, it is usually Lyme borreliosis (LB) or anaplasmosis. 

Symptoms of tick-borne disease

The course of the disease and symptoms will vary depending on which bacteria the dog is infected with. 

Lyme disease

Not all dogs infected with the Borrelia bacterium develop Lyme disease, but if the dog becomes ill, it can be very serious. Here at the veterinary clinic, we actually see more than 10 cases of Lyme disease per year. Unfortunately, we also see annual deaths due to organ failure because the patient arrives too late for treatment. 

Symptoms of Lyme disease include reduced general condition, joint inflammation, muscle pain, fever and loss of appetite. In chronic cases, the skin, heart, kidneys and nervous system can be affected. Symptoms of the disease usually do not appear until up to 5 months after the dog is infected, and removing the tick as soon as possible also reduces the risk of infection. 


Anaplasmosis is also a common tick-borne disease, but will cause more acute symptoms that appear about 1-2 weeks after the tick bite. The disease is caused by a bacterial infection and causes symptoms such as fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal disturbances, pain and soreness. 

Where on the dog does the tick attach itself?

We recommend going through their fur and doing a tick check after every walk, especially during the summer months. The most common attachment points are on the head, chest, legs and neck.

Illustration of where on the dog a tick bites. ticks on dogs

Preventing tick bites

Tick repellent for dogs

We recommend making grooming and tick checks a daily routine in spring and summer. In addition to this, there are also other preventive measures, such as giving your dog a tick repellent. Preventive tick repellent for dogs can be bought over the counter at the pharmacy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of ticks here in Vestfold, and we therefore recommend that all dog owners use tick repellent. 

There are three types of preventive tick repellent for dogs:

  • Collars, often called tick collars. This works after 1 week, and remains effective for about 5-8 months depending on the product. Tick collars should not be used on puppies younger than 7 weeks.
  • Tick repellent applied directly to the coat. This gives full effect after 2-3 days and the effect lasts for about 4 weeks. Not to be used on puppies younger than 2-8 weeks, depending on the product.
  • An anti-tick tablet that the dog chews on, giving an immediate effect. The effect lasts for 8-12 weeks.

Preventive vaccine against Lyme disease 

We also recommend all our customers to give their dog the Lyme vaccine, to protect against Lyme disease. Although tick repellent helps to prevent ticks, it is difficult to secure the dog 100% against tick bites at all times. When vaccinating, the dog receives a basic vaccine twice, three weeks apart. Thereafter, annual vaccinations are given well in advance of each tick season.

Illustration of how to remove a tick on a dog and cat. Prevent Lyme disease. ticks on dogs

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Elisabeth is a veterinarian and certified ophthalmologist specialising in eye surgery, with further training in internal medicine, general surgery, oral surgery and ultrasound from the European School for Advanced Veterinary Studies in Toulouse.

Elisabeth Bjørnestad

Elisabeth is a veterinarian and certified ophthalmologist specialising in eye surgery, with further training in internal medicine, general surgery, oral surgery and ultrasound from the European School for Advanced Veterinary Studies in Toulouse.