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How to Keep Ticks Off Dogs

Posted on 26 June 2018


Ticks and other parasites thrive in the summer, and this season is expected to be particularly bad. Mild winters means the weather has been warmer for longer, allowing ticks and fleas to appear earlier in the season than usual. Ticks don’t just pose a threat to people, but also to our four-legged friends that spend a lot of time outside. Here’s everything you need to know to guard your dog against ticks.


There are many different types of prevention methods to keep your dog safe from ticks. Like with anything else, it’s best to stay prepared in advance and avoid tick-heavy areas rather than wait for an issue to come up. There are tricks you can use to make your yard and outdoor spaces safe for your dog, as well as various preventative medicines and other products. Make sure to discuss different options of tick prevention with your veterinarian to see which one is the safest and best for your dog.

adult deer tick

Pills

There are many different brands of oral medications that you can give your dog to keep fleas and ticks off your dog. Giving your dog a prevention pill once a month is an easy and longer-lasting solution to guard them against ticks. It’s less of a hassle to give your dog a pill than trying to get them to keep still while you apply a topical treatment. Plus, many of these pills are chewable, so you can basically trick your dog into thinking that they’re getting a random treat and not taking medicine.


Shampoos

You can buy medicated shampoos that have flea and tick-repellent ingredients. These are best at getting rid of ticks that are already on your dog, but can be used as tick prevention if you frequently bathe your dog using the shampoo. If you’re using this product to get rid of ticks that have already attached themselves to your dog, thoroughly wash your dog’s entire body to ensure you remove all of them.  


Tick powders

Tick powders are applied to dogs’ fur and skin to kill ticks and keep them off your dog. Many tick powders will also protect your dog from other parasites like fleas. Make sure to follow the instructions closely to make sure you are using the right amount of tick powder for your dog.


Tick sprays

Tick sprays are topical tick-preventatives that prevent and kill ticks. Sprays can wear off more quickly than other tick prevention products, but are good for a quick prevention if you plan on taking your dog to a possibly tick-heavy area for the day.


Tick collar

Tick collars contain pesticides that are safe to dogs, and that kill ticks either on contact or once they attach. Dogs absorb the chemicals from the tick collar into their fur and skin, which will prevent ticks from feeding and possibly transferring diseases.


If you’re concerned about the chemicals used in tick control products, there are certain natural solutions you can use to keep your dog tick-free. Check out this article from Dogs Naturally Magazine that provides natural dietary, topical and environmental tick preventative options.


Keep yard well maintained

Ticks like to be in heavily wooded areas and can hide in large piles of leaves that may accumulate in your yard. Clear away leaf litter, tall grasses and bushes to reduce the possibility of ticks living in your yard. This will ensure that your dog has a safe place to spend time outside during tick season.


How to find ticks on dogs

Check your dog’s coat for ticks when they come in from a walk outside, especially if you live in an area that is likely to have a lot of ticks, like the wooded areas of the Northeastern United States. Ticks will embed themselves anywhere on a dog’s body, but they can be hard to find if they are near the ears, between the toes or armpits. It can be especially hard to find ticks if your dog has a thicker, longer coat, so make sure you do a thorough examination to remove any ticks before they cause problems.


What ticks can do

Ticks can spread diseases to your dog if gone unnoticed. Dogs can get lyme disease from ticks, just like people. Some symptoms of lyme disease in dogs are fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and swollen joints. In addition to lyme disease, ticks can spread ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and several other diseases to your dog.


Lyme disease is a very common infectious disease in the northeast United States. It is also a very controversial topic amongst veterinarians because most dogs that test positive are not clinically ill. Lyme disease is not a zoonotic disease, meaning it cannot be directly transmitted from your dog to you. However, if a tick crawls off your dog and bites you, you can become infected.There are several canine vaccines available to prevent Lyme disease. The need for this vaccine should be determined on a case by case basis following a discussion with your veterinarian. We recommend that all dogs be tested for Lyme disease before considering a vaccine. Some opponents of vaccination fear that if your dog is vaccinated and still contracts the disease, the symptoms will be worse. However this is based on experience with the human vaccine (no longer on the market), and has not been proven in dogs.

Source: https://www.mspca.org/angell_services/lyme-disease-in-dogs/

Source: Wikimedia Commons  dog at vet office

Removing ticks

If you do find a tick on your dog, use tweezers to carefully remove it. Grab the tick as close to the surface of the skin as you can and pull upward. You can also use a tick removal device to push the tick away from your dog’s skin. Make sure to clean the area where you found the tick to ensure that your dog won’t get sick. Additionally, ensure you get the head removed, as it can become detached from the tick’s body.


Whatever method of tick prevention you decide to use, consult with your veterinarian to find the solution that’s best for your dog. Many of the powders, sprays and other topical treatments contain harsh chemicals, so you always need to consult your vet.

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