With spring already here and summer fast approaching, it’s the perfect time for walking in the woods and other outdoor activities. However, warm spring weather also means that ticks become active and this can lead to the transmission of tick-borne diseases. Just like people, dogs can become victims of fleas and ticks and the tick-borne diseases can be just as harmful to dogs as to humans. So, what can you do to keep your dog tick-free this season? Here are a few ideas to consider…
Tick control for dogs
Ticks are most active in the spring and summer months, between March and October, which means we should take extra care to prevent the spread of tick-borne diseases – not just to ourselves, but also to our dogs. Of course it’s no fun having to remove ticks from your dog during the spring and summer months. Not only are these blood-suckers nasty to look at, all filled up with your pet’s blood, they are also very difficult to dislodge. But, if left too long or not removed entirely, ticks can cause some serious diseases.
Keeping dogs out of grasses and woods would, of course, help to reduce their exposure to ticks. But it’s probably not realistic to keep dogs inside throughout tick season. Dogs love hiking, they love the woods and, therefore, they can quite easily have a tick crawl on board. Here are some tips for making sure your dog is protected:
Tick spray kills ticks quickly and provides residual protection. Sprays can be used when you are planning to spend time out in wooded areas with your dog. Be careful when using this product around your dog’s face, and do not use it on or around any other animals in the home. Tic sprays often contain Permethrin (use on dogs only, not on cats) or Pyrethrin. When using a spray, you do not have to soak your dog with the spray, but be sure to spray all parts of the animal. Follow your veterinarian’s and the manufacturer’s directions on how often to spray.
Bathing your dog with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will generally kill ticks on contact. This can be an inexpensive method of protecting your dog during the peak tick season. You will need to repeat the process more often, about every two weeks, as the effective ingredients won’t last that long. To properly use a flea & tick shampoo you must be sure to work the shampoo in over the entire body and then leave it on at least 10 minutes before you rinse it off. Again, remember to protect the face, especially the eyes and ears, of your dog.
Powders are generally easy to apply but can create a mess. If your dog has asthma, powders may not be the best choice since the powder could be inhaled.
Collars that repel ticks are easy to use, though they are mainly useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks. The tick collar needs to make contact with your dog’s skin in order to transfer the chemicals onto the dog’s fur and skin. When putting a tick collar on your dog, you will need to make sure there is just enough room to fit two fingers under the collar. Cut off any excess length of collar to prevent your dog from chewing on it. Check the package for information on duration of effectiveness since many collars lose effectiveness when they get wet. Watch carefully for any irritation under the collar. If this occurs, you may need to use a different product.
Tick control your dog
After a day outside in areas where ticks could be lurking, be sure to carefully check your dog for ticks. Look between the toes, inside the ears, between the legs, and around the neck. If you do find a tick attached to your dog, removal should be done immediately and carefully, making sure to get all parts of the tick’s body. Take tweezers and remove the tick as close to the body of the pet as possible.
Watch your pet carefully over time and look out for any changes in behavior. If your pet is not acting right, take him or her to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Last but not least…
Talk with your veterinarian about vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease and about the best way to prevent fleas and ticks from latching on to your pet.