Warmer weather can mean pesky pests for your pup. As the sun begins to shine, your canine might spend more time outside, which increases his chances of playing host to unwanted guests.
During the late spring and summer, tick season is at its peak. And, according to TIME, 2023 is the worst year for fleas so far, with flea populations in double the amount of countries they’ve been reported in since 1996. So, now more than ever, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to keep your pet protected from ticks and the harmful diseases they can spread.
How Do Dogs Get Ticks?
Dogs can get ticks from other dogs, pets and animals, and from playing outdoors. You may think your backyard is a safe space for your pet to play, but other animals like deer, raccoons and squirrels can easily make their way through your yard. As they hunt for food, they leave ticks and tick eggs behind. To keep your pup safe during tick season, it’s best not to encourage these critters by leaving food or water bowls out.
Dogs can also get ticks from people. Ticks love wooded and grassy areas. So after you go on a camping trip or go for a hike, it’s a good idea to check your clothing for ticks before entering your home. You can easily bring ticks home with you on your pants or socks.
Are Ticks a Serious Problem?
It’s important to catch ticks on dogs early. Ticks on dogs not only cause your pet to itch, but they also spread diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, so it is important to keep your pet protected. If not addressed, an infestation can drain your canine of enough blood to leave him anemic.
“Keeping your pet safe is important, but you should also be aware of other critters they might bring into your home and how this could impact you and the rest of your family,” says Dr. Sarah Nold, DVM at Trupanion. While you can spread ticks to your pets, ticks on dogs can also spread to you and your family members. So proper precautionary steps are necessary, especially during tick season. “This is particularly important for families with young children, as they are often the ones who give our pets the most attention. You don’t need to ban pets from the family areas, but you should practice good personal hygiene and be extra vigilant in looking for the signs and symptoms of an infestation.”
Spotting Ticks on Dogs
“Familiarize yourself with the symptoms so you can spot an infestation as soon as possible,” says Dr. Nold. Common symptoms of ticks on dogs include irritated, red patches of skin and the presence of small, brown ticks in the fur. Also look for symptoms of more serious illnesses that are often carried by ticks, such as Lyme disease. “You can easily stay on top of parasites, such as ticks, by monitoring changes in your pet’s behavior and appetite and through regular trips to your veterinarian,” says Dr. Nold.
Dogs and ticks often go hand in hand. Finding ticks on your dog doesn’t mean you’re a bad pet parent. It’s very easy for ticks to make their way onto your canine companion. Luckily, there are multiple ways to protect your pet and prepare him for tick season.
Prevention Options for Tick Season
“The most reliable way to prevent parasites is through a year-round control program, tailored to the needs of each specific pet,” says Dr. Nold. “Tick bites can be prevented altogether by using a monthly parasite preventive provided by your veterinarian.” There are many different forms of dog flea and tick prevention that pet parents can choose from, including oral prevention, topical treatments, tick collars, tick sprays and tick shampoos.
Oral Prevention Options
Oral flea and tick treatments are some of the most common options and are typically administered monthly for year-round protection. Oral medications are great options for killing the pests quickly, so they are usually recommended for dogs who already have ticks. Talk with your veterinarian to figure out which brand is right for your dog.
Similar to oral prevention, topical flea and tick prevention is applied monthly to provide continuous protection throughout the year. It is usually applied between the shoulder blades onto the skin of the dog. It is absorbed into the skin and bloodstream and will kill fleas and ticks on contact.
Onguard is a great topical treatment that kills all life stages of fleas and ticks on dogs. This long-lasting treatment uses fipronil and (S)-methoprene, which are two time-tested ingredients that are commonly used to control flea and ticks. Onguard is effective for 30 days and is an easy-to-apply, waterproof formula that will keep your pup protected from pests.
Tick collars are another option for flea and tick prevention that can be used for long-term protection. These collars are worn all the time and will act as repellents for fleas and ticks on dogs.
Another way to address a tick infestation is with tick sprays. These sprays act as an added protective barrier against ticks and fleas and will keep your pup protected while they play in the yard or go for a walk. Vet’s Best Flea and Tick spray uses a plant-based blend of peppermint oil and clove oil extract to kill fleas, flea eggs and ticks on contact. It’s safe for use on dogs and puppies 12 weeks or older.
Remember not to drench your dog in spray. A light spray over your dog’s entire coat is all that’s required. Make sure their coat is damp, but not dripping. When spraying for ticks, cover the legs, tail and stomach—but avoid the face, eyes and genitals. Massage the product into the coat until it reaches the skin.
When it comes to being prepared for tick season, it is always a good idea to have a flea and tick shampoo on hand. That way, if you notice ticks on your dog or are worried that he has been exposed to ticks out on a hike or in your yard, you can bathe him and eliminate any unwanted pests. Adams Plus Flea & Tick kills fleas and ticks, and uses oatmeal, coconut extract, lanolin and aloe to calm your dog’s damaged skin and keep their coat shiny.
A tick problem can affect your entire household. Don’t let pesky ticks feed on your canine—arm yourself with the right tools to protect your furry friend throughout tick season.
Michelle McKinley is dedicated to creating informative pieces that help pet parents train, care for and love their cuddly companions. She operates a digital ad agency providing content to enterprise and small businesses. As a writer for Chewy, Michelle delights in sharing tips and techniques that strengthen the relationship between owner and pet. She works with experienced veterinarians, knowledgeable pet behaviorists and pet brands to bring the best in pet to readers.
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