How to Have a Tick-Free Spring and Summer With Your Dog

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on April 20th, 2022

With temperatures warming up, it’s time to start planning outdoor adventures with your furry pal! And whether you’re excited to get back to your favorite hiking trails or cuddle up by a campfire, there’s plenty of tail-wagging fun to be had during the next few months. Unfortunately, you and your dog aren’t the only ones looking forward to sunny days ahead: ticks are waiting for their chance to tag along on all your outdoor activities.

In this article, we’ll talk about what you should know about ticks in your area, how to prevent them, and how to treat tick bites. With everything you need to know about ticks on dogs, you can be sure this pesky hitchhiker won’t ruin your outdoor fun!  

Get to know your ticks
Ticks are common in many parts of the US and typically all species are most active between the months of April and September. But, depending on where you live, ticks in your area could look different and carry different diseases.

In the Pacific Northwest, for instance, the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, can transmit bacteria leading to Lyme disease in both humans and dogs. Dog owners in this area should also be on the lookout for the American Dog Tick, which makes its home in the Rocky Mountains and can lead to Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The Lone Star Tick, aptly named for both its star-like marking and prevalence in southern states, is more likely to carry diseases such as Ehrlichiosis.

Because different tick species carry diseases with their own unique set of symptoms, take the time to familiarize yourself with the tick-borne illnesses most common in your area. Of course, as we’ll cover here, there are some prevention tips that are universal. Let’s take a closer look!

Best dog tick prevention tips
No matter where you and your doggo plan to frolic this spring, make sure to lower the risk of ticks with these tips:

Tip #1: Stay up to date on your dog’s tick prevention medication
By far, the best proactive measure you can take for your pup is to give them tick prevention medication. Keep in mind that different methods wear off at different times, so read the label carefully and set a reminder for your next dosage.

Tip #2: Do some spring cleaning
Once ticks have made their way into your car or home, they can start laying eggs that will hatch after several months. So, regardless of whether you’ve seen ticks on your dog, make sure to keep their kennel, bedding, and plush toys clean. 

Tip #3: Make your outdoor space a tick-free zone
There are a few things that the CDC recommends to make your backyard or outdoor space uninviting to ticks:

  • Cut back long grasses
  • Remove piles of leaves and other debris
  • Try to keep wild animals away from the areas where your dog likes to sniff around
  • Create gravel barriers between your lawn and wooded areas

Tip #4: Install BreezeGuard Screens on your car
Your pupper may love to stick their head out the window, but if you drive through wooded areas, you know that leaves and bushes can sometimes brush up against your car. With the windows down, it’s also more likely for fallen leaves and grasses to be blown into the backseat.

Installing BreezeGuards can limit your dog’s exposure to tick-carrying foliage while also keeping them safe from other driving hazards and airborne spring allergens.

Tip #5: Teach your doggo good recall or keep Fido on leash
When you do venture out into the wilderness where ticks are common, try to keep your pup away from long grasses and thick underbrush. Not only will this allow for natural habitats to thrive without being trampled by your playful pup, but it will also lower their risk of picking up ticks. 

How to recognize and treat a dog tick bike
Checking your dog for ticks after every outing is an important grooming task for spring and summer. Here’s how to do it:

  • Know where to look for ticks on dogs. Ticks generally seek out the areas of your dog that are less exposed, such as around the ears, eyes, mouth, and collar. You should also look closely around the tail, between their back and front legs, and between their toes. Once you’ve taken a close look at these areas, give their whole body a good once over to make sure you didn’t miss any.
  • Know what a tick looks like on your dog. Ticks can sometimes be mistaken for moles or skin tags on dogs, so wherever you notice a raised bump, make sure to take a closer look. With enough light and the help of a magnifying glass, you’ll be able to see the legs and body of the tick.
  • Be careful about removal. Ticks should be removed carefully with sanitized tweezers or a tick removal tool to prevent leaving parts of the tick embedded in your dog’s skin. It’s highly recommended that you use gloves for this process to prevent infection. If you’re not sure how to do it, have your vet teach you or find a groomer in your area that offers tick removal.

With dog tick removal over with, what are your next steps?
Once your dog is happily tick-free, there are two final steps to do:

  • Clean the area to prevent infection. Wash your dog’s skin with soap and water and consider applying an antibiotic topical cream or spray. Keep an eye on the area over the next few days.
  • Properly document and dispose of ticks. Off-putting as it may be, it’s a good idea to take a picture of the tick in case your vet wants to identify it. They may even want the specimen to test for disease. You can store the tick in a lidded or sealed container to give to your vet or dispose of in the trash.

Keep your pet tick-free this spring and summer!
Ticks may be unavoidable, but they don’t have to ruin your spring and summer! With the right prevention plan, regular inspection, and a good tick removal tool, you and your furry friend can hit the trails with confidence!

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