**Warning: This post may cause a case of the heebie-jeebies. I feel like they’re all over me.
The other morning I took Xena the adventure dog and my 3 year old, Killian, for a hike on Love a Tree Day. Killian and I came out clean, but Xena was a tick-magnet! They are horrendous this spring. I pulled 8+ ticks off of her in our first hour of being on the trail.
Ticks aren’t just gross, they cause diseases that are harmful to your hiking companion, and you! Some major illnesses include;
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Canine Anaplasmosis
- Canine Ehrlichiosis
Types of Ticks
In the U.S. we have several types of ticks in the woods,
- American Dog Tick
- Blacklegged Deer Tick
- Brown Dog Tick
- Lonestar Tick
- Pacific Coast Tick
- Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
- Western Blacklegged Tick
It’s a dirty job, but it has to be done. Tools are available at your vet clinic, pet stores or on Amazon. They range from just a few dollars to an whole $20 Tick Removal Kit. I use by fingers or a tweezers for a truly sunken in sucker. The trick is to remove the tick before it becomes embedded. This is when the tick has buried it’s head into the skin.
Embedded Tick: Use sterile tools, like a tweezers. As close to the skin as possible, grasp the head. Don’t yank, but pull gently to ease the head out of the skin. What you don’t want, is for a piece to be left behind. Clean area and watch the site for signs of infection.
It’s important to contact your veterinarian if your dog begins showing signs of illness after tick removal. These could be signs of infections or diseases spread by ticks. Symptoms such as;
- Fatigue, lethargy or weakness
- Swollen lymph nodes or joints
- Loss of appetite or vomiting
- Unnecessary shivering or panting
There is a smorgasbord of tick preventions on the market these days and it seems there is a variety to suit every pet owners needs. I’ve tried several different varieties over the years, all have been effective to an extent. Don’t be deceived; ticks can still latch on even when your dog has a preventative, but they do help and many kill ticks that have attached.
***Consult your veterinarian prior to beginning a flea and tick treatment and seek veterinary advice in the occurrence of side effects and adverse reactions. Always read prescriptions, directions, and side effect warnings on labels prior to application.
Price: $-$$ (price varies with quality)
Duration: 1 month of prevention
Application: This type of product is a liquid that comes in a tube with an easy squeeze applicator. Simply cut open the end of the tube and squeeze the liquid onto the skin under the fur. Application is usually placed between the shoulder blades so your pup can’t lick it off. Detailed instructions are on the label.
Pros: Topical treatments don’t just kill ticks on contact, many of them also repel them to start with. Most of them work about 12-48 hours to work on current flea/tick infestation.
Cons: If you have a dog that likes to get dirty, bathing will be an issue. Bathing or swimming could cause the solution to become diluted. This DOES NOT mean you should reapply, doing so is risking overdosing your dog. There can be side effects ranging from skin irritation to seizures. Contact you vet if you see adverse reactions.
We started using a different flea and tick treatment when we had small children. Kids love dogs and dogs love kids, most of the time! This close connection could result in flea and tick treatments contaminating your little ones.
Duration: Up to 8 months
Pros: One time payment and treatment that will work for the duration of the tick season. If there are adverse effects or reactions, the collar is easily removed. The flea collar is not effected by water and doesn’t need to be removed for swimming or bathing (I usually remove all collars for bathing anyway).
Cons: There are some side effects to watch for including chemical burns and seizurs among other things. The collar can also come in contact with children who love on their pup.
Duration: 1 month of prevention
Pros: These are great for families with kids. Unlike the topical and the collar, when children pet their dog, there won’t be any cross contamination. Oral treatments can kill fleas in as little as 8 hours and ticks in 48 hours.
Cons: There have been known cases of severe side effects, including seizures. Unfortunately, this treatment can’t be removed like the collar or washed off like the topical in the instance of a poor reaction.
Note: These types of preventatives require a prescription from your veterinarian.
Be watchful of dogs licking their legs and body, ingestion of tick sprays could be harmful.
Pros: This is an as needed application product, used at the time of higher risk exposure to ticks, so it wouldn’t need to be on your dog constantly. Many bands are usable for people and dogs alike.
Cons: There are so many brands out there, be sure to read the label before purchasing or applying the product to your dogs to ensue it’s pet-safe. Be watchful of dogs licking their legs and body, ingestion of tick sprays could be harmful.
Note: The range on this product is vast. Some are just for dogs, some just for people, some are for dogs, cats, horses, home, yards, everywhere.
I’ve added this option here as more of a warning than anything else. There are a great number of essential oils that are toxic to dogs and a very dangerous. Check into these oils before using them as a tick preventative or any other use. Even when you’re just defusing in your home.
Anyone else feel like they’re all over you now?