- in Dog Health
Bugs are a nuisance during spring and summer, but ticks are a threat year-round. Many of us know how to take personal precautions against ticks, but a dog's only line of defense against ticks is their owner.
Dogs love to explore bushes and brush in the woods, which are major areas of activity for ticks. They also commonly stick to moderately tall grass, and you can even find some skittering across sandy areas.
Ticks can be very hard to spot on a dog, especially dogs with long and thick fur, but if a tick is left on a dog for extended periods of time, it can cause terrible temporary effects like dehydration, lack of appetite and lethargy and permanent effects like Lyme disease.
Here are several ways that you can keep the threat of ticks away from your dog:
While ticks can be found nearly anywhere that they can survive in, one of the best first steps to keeping them away from your dog is by avoiding the areas that ticks most like to dwell in. If you can help it, try to keep your dog our of areas that tend to have high densities of ticks such as heavily wooded areas, overgrown fields and places with a lot of brush and bushes.
Perform Regular Inspections
While ticks have their regular hangouts such as trees, bushes and tall grass, they can be picked up nearly anywhere since they can live in a wide variety of environments and they like to hitch rides on other animals and people to get to new breeding and feeding grounds.
Regularly inspect your dog after every outing in the woods and at least every two days when they're merely out and about around town or in the backyard. Slowly sift through your dog's fur going through every inch of their skin. Look out for weird black or gray circular marks and feel around for odd small bumps about the size of a small rock or a pea.
Remember, ticks can be incredibly small, so be as thorough as possible. For dogs with longer fur, keep the dog trimmed and properly groomed to help make the inspection easier. If there are some suspect areas that you're unsure of, it's a good idea to shave that one area to be sure if it's a tick.
If you find a tick, remove it slowly and carefully with either tweezers or a tick removal tool. If any part of the tick breaks off during removal, try your best to clean out the rest and keep an eye on the area. If the spot stays red and you believe your dog is feeling ill, see a veterinarian.
Tick-Proof Your Yard
One of the best ways to keep ticks off of your dog is by keeping them away from areas that your dog typically goes, such as your backyard or campsite. You can purchase anti-tick spray from your local hardware, garden or camping store. Simply spray the bushes, dirt and brush with the spray and reapply according to the instructions on the can.
Perform Regular Yard Maintenance
Ticks like to stay in brushy areas, which can mean anything from untrimmed hedges to unkempt lawns. Keeping up to date on your yard's maintenance can help stave away ticks from your yard.
Keep Wild Animals Away
Wild and stray animals are commonly prime targets for ticks. If they enter your yard, they could be a quick and easy transport system for those same ticks. Try to keep these animals out of your yard by keeping food in the house, removing all garbage from the yard, putting up a fence. And even keeping items such as bird and squirrel feeders farther away from your home. Birds are especially good targets for ticks, so keep bird baths and feeders far away.
Ticks tend to be drawn to the natural scent of various animals such as dogs. Bathing them frequently can help keep ticks off of your pet, but regular shampoo typically won't be strong enough to do the job for long.
Luckily, there are several commercial anti-tick shampoos that can create a stronger tick repelling effect for a much longer period of time. While these products do work longer than regular shampoos, your dog should still be bathed with these shampoos around once every two weeks or whatever interval is given on the instructions.
While only really effective on the head and neck of your dog, tick collars are an added layer of protection against ticks for dogs. They can typically be found for reasonable prices, and their effects usually last for several months at a time.
One of the most popular and effective ways of deterring ticks from your dog is by using spot-on treatments. There are many different types and brand of spot-on treatments on the market today, and they vary in potency, effectiveness and price. It's best to speak with your veterinarian on the topic before deciding to go out and buy one.
Another very popular and effective way of deterring ticks away from your pet is by giving them monthly oral medications. An added benefit to these medications is that most of them also keep away fleas and kill existing fleas and ticks on the body.
Additionally, giving your dog a pill every month is seen as more preferable and safer than putting on spot treatments which may be unsafe around children and other pets.
However, like spot-on treatments, it's best to consult your veterinarian before selecting a brand. They'll be able to tell you which medications seem the most effective and which ones are safest for your particular dog's health concerns.
While ticks do pose a significant threat to both people and dogs, there are many options available for keeping them at a safe distance. With a little vigilance, some consultation with your veterinarian and regular care, you and your dog can enjoy fun and games both indoors and out for the entire year.