Starting spot-on tick treatment? Beware!

Starting spot-on tick treatment? Beware!

Tick bites can cause disease and infection on anyone, including your Morkie. But tick treatment for dogs, especially small dogs, can be worse!

Ticks can cause irritation and inflammation and even paralysis in some cases – but spot on tick medication can actually kill a small dog. The EPA has warned consumers since 2010 – don’t use these spot on tick treatments on dogs  under 20 pounds.


Tick treatments for dogs can be deadly. Literally.


Spot-on treatments like K9 Advantix and Frontline Plus work very well. The active chemicals in them are called neurotoxins — meaning they are toxic to the brain and central nervous system.

Neurotoxins work by hyper-stimulating the pest’s nerve cells to death. Although they’re supposed to work only on the pest, neurotoxins can build up in the pet’s organs over time, and not enough is known about their long term effects.



Likely to cause cancer for humans

Right on the label of the product – in very small type – it says most flea and tick products contain chemicals that are “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).


The EPA has identified at least 1,600 pet deaths over the past 5 years linked to spot-on flea and tick treatments.

The EPA also reports that spot-ons account “for more than half of ‘major’ pesticide pet reactions — incidents involving serious medical reactions such as brain damage, heart attacks, violent seizures and death.”

Back in 2010, the EPA warned the public about an alarming increase in pets’ adverse reactions to spot-on products.


The worst reactions were found in dogs under 20 pounds.

  • most adverse reactions happened in dogs younger than three years
  • often happened the first time the owner used a spot-on product

Although the EPA doesn’t know why, they believe some breeds are especially vulnerable to spot-on tick treatments. Those breeds are the:

  • Shih Tzu
    • Chihuahua
    • Miniature Poodle
    • Pomeranian
    • Dachshund
    • Maltese
    • Yorkshire Terrier
    • Bichon Frise

Further, mixed breeds seem more susceptible to adverse reactions from these products.

Alternatives to Spot-On treatments

In my previous post – Natural Tick Fighting Solutions  – I wrote about natural ways to fight ticks. You can also find some great resources here:


…or check my new book on

Today’s Resources:

EPA website:


How to remove a tick from a dog

How to remove a tick from a dog

Found a tick on your Morkie? Don’t panic, but do act quickly. Here’s how to remove a tick from a dog, quickly and safely, including how NOT  to remove a tick. Here we go.

How to remove a tick from a dog, even a Morkie 🙂

Be vigilant – check carefully

Run your hands over your Morkie’s body, feeling carefully for any small bumps. Gently part his coat to check visually.

Don’t forget, you’ll know it’s a tick because they have 8 legs. Only ticks and spiders have 8 legs.

You can remove the tick yourself, if it hasn’t attached itself to an inner ear, an eyelid or some other delicate location. Some people prefer to go straight to the Vet to have the tick safely and cleanly removed.


Ticks like to attach where there’s less hair – under the front legs, around the ears or on the belly.


Is your Morkie safe from lawn chemicals?

Lawn chemicals and your Morkie

Bingo, your dog has a tick!

tick on dog

Here’s how to remove a tick from a dog.

What you’ll need

  • tweezers
  • rubbing alcohol or iodine to clean up the bite area after you’ve removed the tick
  • water and mild soap
  • a small container with rubbing alcohol, to kill the tick and store it in case the Vet wants to see it later

Be very careful – any contact with the tick’s blood can transmit infection to your dog or even to you! Wear rubber gloves.

Tools to remove ticks can be very handy – if you have one in advance of your need. Some go on your keychain.

Gently but steadily pull the tick straight up

To start, pull your dog’s hair back and splash some of the rubbing alcohol around the area. It will help keep the area clean, and might temporarily stun the tick. Then use your tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.

Start steadily pulling straight up. DO NOT TWIST OR TURN THE TICK. DO NOT SQUISH THE TICK.

Remember, the tick’s head is firmly embedded under your dog’s skin at this point. This head is barbed with backward-curving spines so it takes some pressure to pull it out.

Once the tick is removed, thoroughly wash your dog’s wound with water and mild soap and apply rubbing alcohol or iodine.

That’s it!

DANGER:  Commercial tick and flea treatments

The EPA has issued warnings that these treatments are dangerous for dogs under 20 pounds, who have the most adverse reactions to them. Read about an all-natural, safe alternative: “Magic Tick Fighting Dust.” 

It’s harmless to you and your pet and you can use it on your dog, the lawn, and in your home. Sprinkle some on your socks when you’re out hiking in the woods.

This is NOT how to remove a tick from a dog.

Don’t do any of these things:

Don't use this

Don’t use gasoline, nail polish or remover, vaseline jelly or anything else to try and make the tick pull its head out. It  can’t, even if it wanted to – the tick head is firmly embedded in his victim.

Don't squish

Don’t prick, squish or squeeze the tick to make him let go. You’ll just release harmful bacteria into your dog’s system if you make the tick vomit. And leave the head behind, in the victim.

Don't unscrew

The tick has not literally screwed itself under the skin, so don’t try to unscrew it. Reverse barbs on the tick’s feeder tubes hold it firmly under the victim’s skin.

No bare hands

Never use your bare hands to handle a tick – wear latex gloves.
You put yourself at risk of infection, and diseases like Lyme’s. Wash thoroughly after.

The tick’s head is still in  my dog!

Take a good look – if there’s still ‘something’ where you pulled out the tick, it could be the pest’s head. If so you have two options:

  1. Visit the Vet right away to have it cut out – your Morkie could end up with a couple of stitches.
  2. Wash the spot, keep it clean and watch ‘n wait.

The body has a natural way of removing foreign debris like this – you’ll feel a hard lump forming around your Morkie’s bite mark. That’s normal.

Eventually that skin will regenerate and the old skin will die. The lump will fall off, in several weeks to a couple of months.

Of course if the wounded area looks red or inflamed at any time, or starts to swell up, you need to see the Vet right away.

Read about 4 ways to fight ticks naturally, without using commercial tick medications, in my e-book Ticks on Dogs: Small Dog Nightmare.

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