Unfortunately ticks are a part of life for dogs around the world.
But what can we do to protect our furry friends from these nasty little creatures?
That’s exactly what we’re going to cover, how to get rid of ticks on dogs. Today you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to keep your dog safe from these pesky parasites.
We’ll be covering:
- What is a tick/their life cycle
- How to remove ticks
- Tons of tick prevention methods
- Excellent natural tick prevention
- Tick-borne illnesses and what to look for
By the time you’re done with this article you’ll be armed with all of the information you’ll need to keep your dog and your home safe.
What is a Tick? The Tick Life Cycle
More than 850 species of these small, parasitic arachnids are known. Ticks survive on the blood of host animals, and as such, are common on animals with fur in which they can hide. There are 2 classifications of a tick: hard- and soft-bodied species.
Depending on their geographic location, ticks may be carriers of diseases, most commonly Lyme Disease, which often occurs in densely wooded areas with large deer populations. In the Fresno area, anaplasmosis and ehrlichia—both tick-borne diseases—are also common.
The tick life cycle is made up of four stages:
Most species of ticks are more prevalent in the warmer months, as that is when many species hatch. That said, ticks can be found in most regions of the United States throughout the year.
How to Remove Ticks from Dogs
The tick removal process consists of 3 simple steps:
- Use tweezers to grasp the head of the tick as closely to the dog’s skin as possible.
- Pull with a firm, steady, upward motion.
- Apply a disinfectant such as rubbing alcohol or iodine to the wound to prevent infection.
It’s as simple as that. The key here is detection and quick eradication. Check your dog regularly, and If you find ticks on your dog, be sure to remove them as soon as possible.
Tick Prevention for Dogs
Now that we know what ticks are and how to remove them, let’s look into the best ways to prevent ticks.
The #1 way to get rid of ticks on dogs is to know that they’re there. Check your dog for ticks regularly and you’ll be able to stay ahead of a tick problem. If ticks are breeding on your property, it’s best to catch it early and work toward maintaining a tick-free area for your dog.
Around the House/Yard
In order to keep your home free from ticks, there are several actions you can take.
Preventative measures are always the best long-term solution, and with tick prevention this starts with a dog’s environment.
Clear thick brush or other areas of dense vegetation that your dog is exposed to. Ticks climb tall grasses and bushes in order to attach themselves to a passing host.
Avoid areas in the height of tick season that pose a potential threat. If you’ve found ticks on your dog after visiting a specific area, do your best to avoid it and find another place to exercise your dog.
Tiny microscopic creatures called nematodes can be sprayed into your yard in order to kill the ticks. They are parasites themselves, but they only harm the small insects and arachnids that they choose as a host. They release a toxin once inside the ticks that kill them and can live in your soil for between 6 months and a year, so application can be very infrequent.
Note: There are different nematodes for different pests, so make sure you get the nematodes that are meant to be used for ticks.
Diatomaceous earth is made from the powdered skeletons of fossilized diatoms. It’s natural, safe for pets and children, and can be applied throughout your yard to kill any small pests with an exoskeleton.
The powder is actually made up of billions of tiny shards of these fossils and, because they are harder than the exoskeletons on these pests, they make tiny incisions in them and dry them out, killing them quickly.
There are a number of chemical sprays that can be applied to your yard. Exercise caution when using these sprays, particularly when applying these chemicals to areas where your pet and children regularly visit. Some of the less powerful sprays can be purchased in a pet store or online, but consult a professional and your vet before applying these types of sprays.
The CCSPCA recommends that area residents use a professional pest control service. This ensures the safe handling of chemicals, a more thorough dousing of affected areas, and a stronger chance of eradication.
One of the most popular methods to get rid of ticks on dogs are oral medications. There are several to choose from and they typically last for about one month, so dosing doesn’t become a burden. A newer pet insecticide, Bravecto, can last up to 120 days, making it even easier on pet owners.
The medication stay in the dog’s bloodstream, so it quickly dispatches any existing parasites and prevents others from taking up any long-term residency. These medications are typically very effective, but some have side effects for a few different breeds, so be sure to consult your vet before giving any medication to your dog.
Spot-on treatments are another very popular way of how to get rid of ticks on dogs. The treatment liquid or gel is typically applied between your dog’s shoulder blades, where they can’t reach it. The medication then enters the dog’s bloodstream, killing any ticks on the dog quickly and preventing future parasites in a similar fashion to oral medications.
Be aware of any skin reactions your dog may have, as there are some products that can irritate or inflame the skin on certain animals. Also, keep your hands (and those of your family) away from the application zone for the recommended time period (at least a few days) to avoid any toxic contamination.
The CCSPCA wants to warn you about cheap over-the-counter topical treatments. We have seen a number of dogs have adverse reactions. Make sure that you ask your vet about the best topical spot treatments to use before purchase.
These are not currently recommended.
Tick collars are a simple way to get rid of ticks on dogs. They are secured around the dog’s neck in the same way as a traditional collar and use a medication to kill any ticks that come into contact with the area around the head and neck. The longevity of tick collars vary, but Seresto Flea and Tick Collars can last up to 8 months and it is the only one recommended by the CCSPCA.
Some of the medication also enters the dog’s bloodstream, making it less likely for further infestation. Be sure to keep from touching the collar and be sure to wash your hands if you do come into contact.
These are not currently recommended.
Tick sprays are another common product you’ll find in most pet stores. Not only do they recommend them for topical application on dogs, many are formulated to be sprayed within the house to help control other pests such as fleas.
Read the directions very carefully prior to use. Be sure to use caution when applying and avoid contact with your skin if possible, as well as you or your dog breathing the spray. Consider whether or not this is the right product for you, especially if you have small children.
As ticks represent a threat to your dog’s health through the infectious nature of their feeding habits, it’s only natural that we cover the signs of tick-borne illness.
Ticks are responsible for the transmission of many diseases, including:
Be sure to monitor your dog closely after being bitten by even a single tick, as that’s all it takes to infect them.
The symptoms from each of these diseases can be different, but pay attention for:
- General lameness
- Inflammation and redness around the bite area
- Pain or stiffness
- Loss of appetite
- Reluctance to move, eat, etc.
These are all signs of the various diseases listed above, and should be treated as soon as possible.
What to Do
The diseases ticks carry can be very serious and should be treated as early as possible. If your dog is expressing any of the symptoms listed above, visit your vet immediately. Talk to them about the potential risk of infection and whether or not you’ve seen ticks on your dog.
Now that you know how to get rid of ticks on your dog, be sure to keep an eye out for signs. Remember, carefully monitor your dog if they are exposed to areas where ticks may be prevalent and check them regularly.
Keep the areas around your home free of excessive brush and treat problem areas if the need arises. Then, based on your preferences, use one of the about treatments to keep your dog free from ticks, happy, and healthy.