Ticks are vile creatures – the very idea of them makes many people squeamish. However, as a dog or cat owner, it is important to be made aware of how ticks can harm your pet. Learning about the risks and how to avoid these little pests will help you better protect your dog from injury and your home from potential infestation. Follow the guide below to find out how to avoid ticks, locate, and get rid of them.

Preventative Measures

One of the best ways to avoid trouble and attracting ticks, is to plan your daily walks and excursions in nature carefully. Try to choose open spaces with plenty of sunlight and shorter grass, as opposed to dark and shady areas.  Avoid walking under tree bough and long grasses or through thick brush, where ticks are more likely to hover.  While walking your dog, where thick socks and high boots to ward ticks away, and give your dog a quick rub down before you go. This way you will be able to spot any abnormal lumps and bumps on his coat when you return from your outing.

Another helpful way to avoid tick infestations, is to treat your dog with monthly tick preventative treatments.  This is particularly useful for families who live on extensive grounds or in rural areas where a dog is more likely to come into contact with ticks on a regular basis. If you do not wish to immunize your dog as often, targeting times like the end of summer/early autumn will prove the best time to guard against deer ticks.  If you live on a large enclosed property, there are also eco-friendly perimeter sprays and granules you can employ in your yard (in the dark or shaded areas particularly) to help eliminate the growth of tick eggs and adults.

When in doubt, you can always go the extra mile by rubbing tick/bug repellent, and spraying lightly over your dog’s fur, giving special attention to his feet and paws, where ticks are more likely to jump. There are numerous products on the market which are designed specifically to protect pets from tick bites.

How to Check for Ticks

Once you have finished your adventure outside, run a full topical check over your dog’s coat. This will require running your hands carefully over the dog’s body, feeling for little bumps where a tick could be buried.  Give special attention to looking at his paws, between his toes, around the eyes, nose, in the ears, and around the legs, armpits and tail.  If you have children or other family members with you, check them as well since ticks are known to hop from host to host.

If your dog spends several hours a day outside, or long periods of time unsupervised in nature, a tick-check should become part of your daily routine.  Most of the diseases passed on through ticks can be stopped if the ticks are caught early on.   Be sure to give your pup a thorough check, since some ticks will lay eggs in human homes if they are given the chance. Its better to deal with one tick than her potential 3,000 eggs!

How to Eliminate Ticks

If you have located what seems to be a tick, and want to remove it here are some steps to follow:

  • Put on a pair of gloves (ticks carry diseases!)
  • Get some tweezers and some antiseptic product (alcohol, etc)
  • Clasp the tick with the tweezers as close to the base as you can without getting the dog’s skin
  • Once the clasp is firm, pull out with one full motion, making sure to completely remove the imbedded tick
  • Drop the tick into a plastic bag partially filled with alcohol (which will kill the tick, and preserve its body for identification purposes, should your vet request it).
  • Clean the wound with antiseptic, and keep an eye on your dog to see if he displays any signs of illness or unusual behavior.

Check with the Vet!

As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. If your dog seems sluggish, unwell, moves slower or seems uncomfortable, make an appointment to see the veterinarian.  If the tick left behind any unwanted infection or disease, you will want to know as soon as possible. For more information on what ticks attack dogs, check our Types of Ticks blog to gain awareness and protect your dog!