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Ticks: A Growing Problem

Tick crawling on a dog

Ticks can be found just about everywhere, and as the weather warms up, their natural range grows. While ticks can be a problem for dogs and doggy pawrents, there are many ways to reduce the risk they pose to you and your furry baby.

Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases

While tick-related diseases are not common, dogs and their humans can both contract various diseases from ticks. Usually, tick-borne illnesses are transmitted when a tick has been attached long enough to completely fill up and regurgitate a small amount of blood back into the host’s bloodstream.

Ticks Can Be Found Everywhere

Warming weather means ticks’ range is expanding and they are active more throughout the year. And remember that ticks can be active any time the weather is above freezing. 

Even if you and your doggo don’t wander off the beaten path or don’t spend much time out in nature, it doesn’t mean you won’t ever encounter ticks. They can be found in and around your home as well.

Diseases Spread by Ticks

Here are some diseases spread by ticks:

  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Bartonellosis
  • Canine ehrlichiosis
  • Hepatozoonosis
  • Lyme Disease
  • Queensland tick typhus
  • Rickettsial infections
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Luckily, not all of these can affect dogs. And if your dog gets infected, you don’t have to worry about contracting it from your dog since these diseases can only be spread by tick bites.

Preventing Ticks from Infecting Your Dog

A tick needs to be attached to your dog for around 24 hours to transmit most of these diseases to your dog. So, checking thoroughly for ticks after outdoor adventures is a good way to prevent infection. But, it can take weeks, even months, for symptoms to develop, so your dog might not test positive immediately. 

It is very important to medicate or treat your forever friend regularly to reduce the ticks that they come in contact with.

Anti-Tick Medications and Treatments

Prevention is better than treatment. There are a wide variety of products that you can use to prevent ticks from infecting your dog. There are also a number of ways that they can be administered. Some of them are:

Carefully read the label, look at the active ingredients and possible side effects. This will help you make an informed decision.

According to the American Kennel Club, You should consider the following when picking an anti-tick product: 

  • What parasites does this product protect against?
  • How often should I use/apply the product?
  • How long will it take for the product to work?
  • If I see a flea or tick, does that mean it’s not working?
  • What should I do if my pet has a reaction to the product?
  • Is there a need for more than one product?
  • How would I apply or use multiple products on my pet? [1]

As you prepare to make a decision, consult your vet and talk to them about your doggo and the places you like to go. They will have some good suggestions about products and applications.

Treat Your Yard

You can also make some changes to your yard to make it an unfriendly place for ticks. 

a dog and child sit in tall grass

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible.
  • Remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide. [2]

Not only will this keep ticks away from your dog, but it will also keep them away from you and your family.

Symptoms of Tick-Related Diseases

While it takes a while for tick-related diseases to start showing symptoms, you should keep an eye out for the following:

If you notice any of these, it is probably a good idea to see your vet and have your doggo tested.

Dos and Don’ts of Removing Ticks from Your Dog

First, remove ticks as soon as possible–the longer the tick is embedded, the more likely it will transmit disease. 

Make sure that you are using tweezers or tick removal tools to remove the embedded head of the tick. It is probably a good idea to have them available while you are camping or stored in an easy-to-remember place at home. 

Do not use your fingers–This can cause the tick to expel more saliva and blood which will increase your dog’s chances of getting infected.

Safely Removing Ticks from Your Dog

Gather your tweezers or tick removal tool and some antiseptic like rubbing alcohol. This will make the job easier and much more effective.

  • Spread your dog’s fur.
  • Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  • Very gently, pull straight upward without twisting, in a slow, steady motion. This will prevent the tick’s mouth from breaking off and remaining embedded in the skin. [3]

Talk to your vet about removing ticks properly–they can give you a lot of help and advice.

For a Tick-Free Life

As a dog pawrent, you want your doggo to live a long and healthy life, and preventing tick-borne diseases is part of that. It is important to start your doggo on a good flea and tick medication as soon as you bring them home. So make it a point to talk to your vet about that on your first appointment.

Meds and treatments don’t work if you don’t administer them, so remember to give them their meds or treatment at the recommended intervals.

And you might want to have your dog tested at their annual vet visit just to make sure that they haven’t been infected. The sooner treatment begins, the better it will go.

[1] What Is the Best Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs

[2] Preventing Ticks in the Yard

[3] How to Remove a Tick from Your Dog