As the temperatures continue to rise, one of the biggest concerns you may face as a pet owner is how to prevent tick bites for your furry friend. Ticks are a real problem in the United States, especially in the North Eastern corridor, where the incidence of Lyme disease has reached an endemic rate.
The following image was taken from lymeinfo.ca, a Canadian website all about Lyme disease in canines. For those of you interested in checking it out, the site has more information on ticks, tick prevention, and Lyme disease.
As tick bites and Lyme disease are a real problem in our fur-friends, you may be wondering what steps you can take to help prevent tick bites this season. You may also be wondering what part of the year is actually considered tick season.
The following graph was created by the American Kennel Club. Although ticks are active all year round, they are more active during some months depending on your geographical area. This chart will help pet owners be aware of when they need to be more diligent against the threat of tick bites.
Lyme disease is a very real threat for canines that affects nearly 1 million dogs annually. Lyme disease can cause loss of appetite, reduce energy, lameness, stiffness, pain, swelling of the joints, and general discomfort. Worst of all symptoms can progress to kidney failure.
If caught on time, Lyme disease is treated with a heavy series of antibiotics for several weeks and hopefully symptoms will disappear.
So what steps can a responsible pet owner take to avoid this scary disease? I have compiled a list of helpful tips and tricks to help you and dog make the most of the warmer months and to keep the ticks at bay.
1. Always have your dog on tick prevention.
The number one thing you can do as a responsible pet owner to safe guard your pet is to put them on tick preventatives. My favorite form of tick prevention is the Seresto flea and tick collar. Not only do you get flea and tick prevention jam packed into one convenient package, but the collar also lasts for up to eight months! For only $54.99 on Amazon, the Seresto collar is the most economical of the flea and tick prevention methods considering that most brands come in a three month pack at roughly the same price.
Another great thing about the Seresto collar is that it is safe for multipet house holds. While the spot on dog treatments can be toxic to felines, the Canine seresto collar is a safe alternative for pet owners who worry about their dogs coming in contact with their cats. Seresto makes flea and tick collars for small and large dogs and also cats. I definitely recommend using the Seresto collar as your method of tick prevention if you don’t already.
2. Make your yard a tick safe zone.
In addition to having your dog on flea and tick prevention, it is wise to be proactive and create an environment in you and your dog’s space where ticks cannot thrive. Making your yard a tick safe zone involves a hefty amount of yard work so be prepared.
First, it is important to mow your yard frequently. You want to remove any tall grasses or leaf litter where ticks can hide. You are also going to want to remove any unnecessary brush from around your yard and if you have wood for a fire, keep it stacked neatly and dry.
In addition to cleaning up the grasses and plants from your yard, you are going to want to remove any debris, old furniture, or trash. These are also ideal places for ticks to hide.
To protect your dog and your family, keep common areas such as patios, decks, and playgrounds away from the edge of the yard and away from trees where ticks can easily fall or jump and latch on to you or dog.
(These tips for a tick safe yard were taken from the CDC).
3. Spray the yard.
Making your yard “tick safe” is an awesome place to start, but if you want to make your yard even safer, consider spraying your yard with a pet safe tick repellent. I like to use the Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Yard and Kennel Spray. It’s easy to use, all you do it hook the bottle up to your hose and spray the desired area.
It is safe for your pets and plants as it is made with essential oils and planted based ingredient. But most importantly it helps to give me an additional peace of mind that my yard has an additional barrier against unwanted visitors.
4. Consider additional prevention for your dogs.
Along with traditional tick prevention there are additional preventative methods that you can take to protect your dogs and cats. There are an abundance and variety of flea and tick products on the market and there are also an assortment of DIY all natural sprays you can try if that is more your taste.
Essential oils can be a great detersnt for fleas and ticks. Oils like lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, or cedar oils are great options but always remember to dilute them with water before application.
Another natural option worth trying is apple cider vinegar. You can dilute one part water to one part vinegar and spray this on your pet’s coat to help repel insects, including fleas and ticks.
5. Always check your dogs.
Even if your dogs are on prevention, it is important to always check them for ticks after they have been outside. Ticks like warm areas so the most important parts for you to check on your dog are the ear, the shoulders, and under the legs. However, I recommend checking all over, especially if you have been in a high tick traffic area like the forests.
If you do happen to find a tick on your dog, don’t panic. If the tick is just crawling around and is not attached yet, remove the tick from your pets fur. If the tick is attached, remove it with a pair of tweezers by gripping it at the head as close to your dog’s skin as possible and pulling until it releases. Do not twist the twist and do not try to burn the tick with a match.
If the tick has been attached for a significant period of time and your pet begins to show signs of Lyme disease, take them to see your vet as soon as possible.
6. Avoid high tick areas and keep your dogs inside when you can.
The simplest and easiest way to protect your dog is to simply avoid those areas where ticks are frequent.
If you can afford taking your dog where you know ticks are then do yourself a favor and avoid the worry and hassle that comes with dealing with ticks.
While you can’t keep your dog in an indoor bubble forever you can avoid putting him at unnecessary risk. For instance, while your dog needs to go outside to use the bathroom your dog doesn’t need to go to on that camping trip in the woods.
Are you catching my drift?
However, it is up to you as a pet owner to weigh the risks and rewards. Only you know what’s best for your pet.
I hope that after reading these tips that you have found some valuable information on tick prevention this season. I know all too well the dangers that ticks pose as I have seen several of my friend’s beloved pets suffer through the pain of Lyme disease.
Do your pets a service, be a responsible pet owner, and do all you can to safe guard them again those nasty little buggers!
Do you have any tips and tricks for tick prevention? Drop a comment below!