What are ticks?
Ticks are parasites - they attach to the skin of mammals including humans and dogs, by biting them, and then feeding on their blood. In doing so they can transmit diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and more. They are often found lurking in grassy and wooded environments. Once they’ve found a host, ticks bury their teeth inside the skin and the feeding lasts for days. It typically takes 24 – 48 hours for a tick to transmit a disease to its host. You should always remove ticks as soon as you find one.
Tick prevention for dogs
1. Keep your yard tidy
Ticks thrive in tall grass, shrubs, and other vegetation, so it's important to keep your yard well-maintained. Trim overgrown foliage, remove leaf litter, and keep your grass cut short to reduce the likelihood of a tick infestation.
2. Avoid tick-infested areas
If possible, try to avoid areas where ticks are known to be prevalent, such as wooded areas or tall grassy fields. If you do visit these areas, be sure to take precautions like wearing long sleeves and pants and using insect repellent.
3. Avoid areas with high grass
When you’re taking your dog for a walk during tick season, try avoiding areas with high grass, particularly if deer graze there.
4. Tick sprays
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. Tick sprays often contain Permethrin (use on dogs only, not on cats) or Pyrethrin. When using a spray be sure to cover all areas of the body. Follow your veterinarian’s and the manufacturer’s directions on how often to spray.
5. Tick shampoos
Bathing your dog with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will generally kill ticks on contact. 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 for at least 10 minutes before you rinse it off. Again, remember to protect the face, especially the eyes and ears, of your dog.
6. Tick Powders
These are easier than sprays but can be very messy. They’re not recommended for dogs who suffer from asthma. Again, read the directions carefully for how to apply and how long the tick powder remains effective. These can contain pyrethrin.
7. Tick collars
Tick collars can be effective, but they may not be useful for a dog who likes to swim, as they become less effective after getting wet. Check the package for information on duration of effectiveness. Watch carefully for any irritation under the collar. And don’t forget to ask your vet, before putting a tick collar on your dog.
8. Check your pet
If you’ve been out for a walk, it’s generally a good idea to examine your pet carefully once home for any ticks that might have attached on the way. If you feel a small bump, this could be a tick, so be sure to investigate carefully without touching it with your bare skin.
9. Choose the right treatment
Some treatments kill ticks, others can be used for prevention or repelling. Products act in different ways so you can discuss this with your vet to see what suits you and your dog. Before treating your pet, always check the expiration date on products you may have had in your cupboard for a while. If they’ve passed their expiry date, they may lose effectiveness. Whichever tick preventative treatment you choose, it’s important to use it regularly to help keep your dog protected long-term.
10. Be aware of symptoms
If your dog has been bitten by a tick, they may exhibit symptoms like fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. If you notice these or any other concerning symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.
What to do if you end up finding a tick on your dog?
It’s important to remove the tick as soon as possible, to restrict exposure to any infections carried by the parasite. So as soon as you find a tick, use tweezers to remove it as close to the body of the dog as possible. Then continue checking for additional tick bites on your dog – remove them all.