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Ticks are harmful, annoying, and creepy, and they can spread disease to both people and animals. Pets who spend their days romping through backyard brush can easily introduce these parasitic arachnids into your home. As much as we humans don’t care for these parasitic nuisances, we at least understand what they are. If your dog is unfortunate to get bitten by one of them, they won’t understand. They’ll simply scratch at the bitten area which could cause the tick head to become embedded in their skin. This is why it’s up to you to look out for your canine companion and keep him safe.
How To Prevent Ticks on Dogs
The key to preventing your dogs from getting bit is understanding the risk of exposure when you go outside. This risk differs with changing environmental conditions, and a good pet owner is constantly aware of the weather. To keep your pup safe, always follow a few basic guidelines.
Know the Risks in Each Walking Area
You may have exposure to ticks regularly or very rarely depending on where you live. Most ticks prefer the warm, dry weather so depending on what state you live in, you might see more around at certain times a year.
Woodland parasites usually latch onto deer, mice, and other wild mammals. Where such creatures are rare, so too are their pests.
If you walk near farm land or lots of tall grass, you’ll be more likely to pick up a tick. Because they prefer the warmth, they’ll often sit at the tips of long grass (or crops) leaving them in the perfect position to latch onto any passing fur or human skin.
Small city parks are usually free from bloodsuckers. Large ones, on the other hand, are often full of them. If you keep your dog mostly on sidewalks and small urban parks, you don't need to worry as much about ticks.
If you live in a suburban or rural area, your pet risks exposure whenever he or she wanders into a patch of vegetation. Sidewalks and streets are usually safe, but keeping your dog on these surfaces is no guarantee they won't pick up a tick.
Understand Developmental Stages
Ticks go through several development stages, each of which makes them slightly larger and more visible. As tiny nymphs, they can be virtually impossible to see, and this can be very frustrating for wary pet owners. You must remember, then, that even a speck the size of a ballpoint pen's tip may be a malignant parasite.
Do a Daily Check
To learn how to prevent ticks on dogs reliably, you need to know how to search for them. Any time you go for a walk, check your pup for small black marks. If your pet happens to be black or brown, you may still be able to see crawling creatures in bright sunlight. When this doesn't work, you can sometimes feel them. Using an inexpensive flea and tick comb can make your daily check easier and give you an additional sense of security.
Most dogs won’t turn down a good bit of fuss so if you’ve got a longer coated dog, have a good feel through their coat each evening. Run your fingers through their bibs, bellies and bottoms - where their fur is often thickest or comes into more contact with the world.
Once you’ve had a good all over feel, focus on your dog's crevices as this is where ticks tend to favor. Around the head, you want to pay particular attention to your dog's eyes and ears. Ticks can often get overlooked in an ear but this can lead to ear infections so it’s important to check. Be very careful around the eyes and ears and if you find anything and you’re not sure you can remove it, it’s best to call your vet for advice.
Toes are another firm favorite of the tick, as your dog walks along, ticks on the ground don’t have to make too much of an effort to hitch a ride. Check in between each toe somewhere you’ve got lots of good light and remember to be gentle, most dogs don’t like having their toes separated.
Now you need to check the armpits, groin and tail - all nice dark areas that ticks love. Again, be gentle as not all dogs appreciate having their owners rooting about in their groins or around their tails.
Last but not least, don’t forget under the collar especially if your dog always wears one. It presents another nice dark patch of fur for ticks to settle into.
Stay in Touch With the Seasons
Ticks can be active all year long, but early summer is usually the worst time. From May until July, you should be extra vigilant in checking your pet and yourself. If you live where it's cold in the winter, cold seasons are safer times to go outside. Arachnids can't move when it's freezing outside, so when there is snow on the ground, you can let up your guard.
Use a Shampoo
Whether or not you're worried about ticks, you should regularly bathe your pet. Consider using bath times to administer specialized anti-tick shampoos. These are less effective than oral or stay-on medications, but they last for approximately two weeks.
Give Your Pet a Preventative Medication
There are currently many options for preventative medications, each with its own upsides and downsides. The most popular are oral medications given once per month. These essentially turn your dog into poison baits that kill biting arachnids instantly. Unfortunately, vets can't seem to agree whether these medications are entirely safe. In rare cases, pet owners have reported seizures and other disturbing side effects.
Chemical preventatives are another popular option, and these remain on the outside of your pet, killing tiny invaders who try to hitch a ride. These chemical solutions are generally considered safe for adult animals. However, they can spread throughout your house, and you should avoid touching the application area. As they can be easily washed off, they aren't compatible with anti-pest shampoos.
How To Prevent Ticks on Dogs from Moving to Humans
Making your dog an unappealing host is easy. Keeping parasites out of your life is another thing entirely. Even the best cared-for pets occasionally track unwanted critters into your home. To deal with this reality, you should take a few precautions.
Though it can be tempting to have your adorable pet stay the night in your bed, this is probably the best way to convince a shrewd pest to climb onto you. Since humans can't use medications to kill ticks, you're at a much greater risk of contracting an unwanted illness should you get bit without your knowledge.
Always keep your bed separate from your dog's. Though you don't need to keep him or her all the way across the room, you should leave enough space so crawling arachnids can't easily make it to you. Nature hasn't trained ticks to hunt for blood like bed bugs do, and they tend to give up and await unwitting hosts after a short period of travel.
Use Regular Bug Spray
Just as you follow tips on how to prevent ticks on dogs, you should follow standard tips on protecting yourself. Standard DEET repellent interferes with bugs' mouthparts, making it physically impossible for them to bite. Spray your shoes and bottom pant area for the best results.
Spray Your Yard
If you or your pet spends a significant amount of time in your yard, you may want a more comprehensive solution to your pest problem. Spraying your yard is among the best ways to reduce the number of ticks on your property. This can put you at ease and allow you to spend more time outside and less time worrying about pesky bloodsuckers.
No yard spray is 100% effective, however, so you should still check yourself as you normally would. To avoid inadvertently poisoning non-target species, use a natural treatment without harmful, lasting chemicals.
Learning how to prevent ticks on dogs is just one important part of being a great pet parent. Another is giving your best friend the right diet to keep them healthy and happy. At Front of the Pack, we take canine nutrition seriously. For the best supplements on the market, visit Front of the Pack online today.