How To Protect Your Dog Against Ticks

Most dogs just hear the word ‘walk’ and they immediately start jumping for joy and spinning in circles by the door. Just like us, the fresh air and sunshine is good for them. However, there are dangerous pests lurking in the tall grass and nearby woods that you need to be on the lookout for.

Ticks are waiting in the shadows to feast on you and your beloved dog. The disgusting parasites are opportunists and can latch themselves onto a host (you or your dog) without being detected. An infected tick can transmit diseases after they start to drink the host’s blood, which is generally 36 hours after they attach.

For this reason, it is vital that you check yourself and your dog every time you go for a walk.

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When Is Tick Season?

Ticks love warm weather and are generally most active in the summer and fall, but it depends on where you live. For people that live in areas where the average temperature is below 40 degrees your risk is low, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take preventative measures.

In areas where the average temperature is 40-65 degrees the risk is moderate, and any area that averages over 65 degrees is high risk.

No matter what area you live in, you should always use some form of tick repellent for you and your dog. Most vets recommend a preventative treatment for dogs all year long.

Where Do Ticks Live?

Ticks prefer dark and moist areas and are commonly found in long grasses, low-to-the-ground shrubs, and in wooded areas. They can be found in all states and may even be living in your backyard, so be sure to check your dog everyday.

Check out this map to see what tick-borne diseases are prevalent in your area.

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What Areas On The Body Are Ticks Found?

It doesn’t hurt when a tick attaches to our bodies or our pets, so it is important that you thoroughly check for them after every walk. Sometimes it is hard to spot ticks on dogs with thick fur, so running your hand or comb through your dog’s coat and feeling for raised bumps works as well.

Giving your dog a bath is also a great way to spot any intruders. The vile pests will stand out and you can promptly remove them.

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While ticks may latch on to any part of the body, they are commonly found in these areas on dogs:

In and around ears
Under front legs
Inside groin area
Between toes
Around eyes and eyelids
Under collar or harness

Even if your dog is on a preventative treatment you should still check Fido over for ticks after your walk. Ticks vary in size and some are as small as a seed, but any could potentially be a health risk.

Can Ticks Make My Dog Sick?

Yes, infected ticks can transmit diseases 36 hours after they attach to their host. However, not all ticks are infected.

Unlike other pests that bite and fly off, ticks remain attached until they have had their fill of blood and then will fall off. However, you want to find ticks way before the 10-14 days it takes for them to fall off. The longer they are attached and feeding, the higher the chance of transmitted diseases.

Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for American Kennel Club, describes some common tick-borne diseases found in dogs below.

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Lyme Disease:

Due to an increase in tick populations, there are more reports of lyme disease across the country in dogs and humans.

“Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by a spirochete bacteria (Borrelia) carried by the Black-Legged Tick (more commonly known as the Deer Tick),” states Dr. Klein. “The tick has to be attached to its host for about 36-48 hours for transmission of bacteria into the host, and signs of illness occur about 2-5 months after a tick bite.”

Signs of lyme disease in dogs are limping, fever, joint paint/swelling, lameness, loss of appetite, lethargy.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever:

“Rocky Mountain spotted fever is one of the more commonly known tick-borne diseases to affect dogs and humans. It is carried by the American Dog Tick and the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, as well as the Brown Deer Tick.” Common signs are fever, poor appetite, swollen lymph nodes, and joint pain.

Ehrlichiosis:

“Canine Ehrlichiosis is found worldwide. It is caused by several types of ticks: The Brown Dog Tick, Lone Star Tick, and American Dog Tick.” Symptoms include fever, poor appetite, nose bleeds, signs of bruising or anemia. Symptoms start to show 1-3 weeks after being bit by an infected tick.

How Do I Prevent Ticks?

Ticks wait on the tips of grass, bushes, or branches waiting for a human or animal to pass by. Then the blood-sucking parasites crawl onto the hosts and attach themselves. Ticks cannot jump or fly; they can only crawl. The process is known as questing.

There are multiple topical products available for dogs that deter and kill ticks. It is best to talk to your veterinarian about which product is best for your dog.

Photos: GreaterGood

Topical Prevention

K9 Advantix® II Flea Treatment for Dogs kills and repels fleas, ticks, and mosquitos.

Collar Prevention

Seresto Flea and Tick Collar offers 8 months of continuous protection and is easy-to-use.

Chemical-Free Prevention

SonicGuard™ Tick & Flea Guard Tag, also called Tickless, is a chemical-free way to protect your beloved dog. It works by “emitting a series of ultrasonic pulses that are imperceptible to humans, pets or wildlife, but interfere with the ability of ticks and fleas to orient themselves.” Simply clip the tag onto your dog’s collar or harness for up to a 12 months of protection.

What do I do if I find a tick on my dog?

If you spot a tick on your dog remove it immediately, but be sure to get the entire tick. Ticks can transmit disease in 36-48 hours, so it is important to check your dog and yourself daily. Once you have removed the parasite, take a picture of it in case you need to show your vet.

Ticks are hardy and need to be disposed of properly so they cannot bite another person or animal. The best way is by placing them in rubbing alcohol or flushing them down the toilet.

Keep an eye on your dog and the area where the tick was for any signs of irritation. While some reddening and itching may occur, contact your vet if you notice inflammation or oozing.

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How To Take A Tick Off Your Dog

There are special tools designed to remove the entire tick with a simple twist of the wrist, appropriately called Tick Twister. There are countless other methods that people have tried, but the handy tool seems to be safe and effective. Watch how easy it is to use in the video below.

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Ticks are vile parasites that have the potential to cause harm, but don’t panic if you find one on your dog. Most ticks do not cause dogs any serious harm when removed promptly. The best approach is to have your dog on some form of preventative treatment and be diligent about body checks after your walks. Don’t be afraid to enjoy the outdoors with your dog, just take steps to deter ticks.

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Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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