Tick Safety For Dogs

Spring is glorious and all the icky creepy crawlies are out enjoying it. Most pet owners are already worried about fleas and mosquitoes, but ticks should probably be higher on your list. 

People who live in areas where tick-borne diseases are common already know how dangerous ticks can be, but ticks carry something you don’t want in all parts of the U.S. and most everywhere else.

The best defense is to keep them away from your pet. You can make your yard inhospitable by keeping things cleared, trimmed and tidy. Anywhere you or your pet could brush against bushes or tall grass is an ideal habitat for them. There are also outdoor pesticides to limit their population in your local environment.

After spending time in good tick habitats, everyone should be checked for ticks. Dogs tend to get them in their ears, armpits or in other protected areas where they can feed without being dislodged. If you do find a tick here’s how to remove it. Your vet may want you to save the dead tick in an old pill bottle or jar in case your dog does start showing signs of infection within the incubation period of the tick-borne diseases in your region.

There are topical treatments and collars to kill ticks and cause them to detach shortly after they bite. Tick-borne diseases usually require at least 24 hours to transmit, so the sooner the tick can be removed and killed, the better. What works best for you will depend on the species of ticks common in your area and your dog’s exposure level. A dog that spends a lot of time running through grass and brush is going to need better protection than a dog that walks primarily down the middle of the sidewalk. Talk to your vet about what’s best for your dog. My vet recommends Preventic collars because my dogs have a lot of potential tick exposure and they’re very effective on the ticks in the southeast.

Dogs in high risk areas can be tested for various tick-borne diseases during their annual heartworm test. They can also be vaccinated against Lyme disease, though it’s not 100% effective and your dog can still contract other diseases if they’re bitten.

Really, this article could just say, “talk to your vet!” If your vet doesn’t know that your dog travels, or goes camping and hiking with you, they can’t tell you if your current tick prevention regime is adequate. Many pet owners aren’t pleased with a vet that suggests changing their dog’s flea and tick preventative, especially if the change is a bit more expensive. It’s a conversation you should initiate if your vet doesn’t.

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Hopes to someday train her dogs not to be douchebags.

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