If your dog spends a lot of time outside, tick checks should be part of your daily routine. In many areas of the United States, ticks are active year-round, even after a killing frost. Here’s how to spot a tick—and what to do if one has grabbed hold of your pet.

Step 1: Scan for ticks

Start by running your fingers slowly over your dog’s entire body. If you feel a bump or swollen area, check to see if a tick has burrowed there. Don’t limit your search to your dog’s torso. Check between their toes, around their legs, the insides of their ears and all around their face, chin and neck. 

Step 2: Is it a tick?

Ticks can be black, brown or tan and they have eight legs. They can also be tiny; some species are only as large as the head of a pin.