Best ways to prevent your dogs against ticks and fleas
The last thing we want to deal with during mild temperatures (September to November) and early spring (April to July- minimized and stops in august) are ticks and fleas. I mean while the weather is great for getting outside with your pets, it also means its flea and tick season.
Ticks are parasites that dwell in wooded and dense vegetative areas. They bury their heads into a dog’s skin and gorge themselves on its blood, which can transmit dangerous diseases or cause the dog severe discomfort. Ticks can cling to skin, fur, or fabric when your dog brushes up against vegetation, and you may not notice them until they have already begun to feed. The best way to prevent a tick attack is to avoid taking your dog through tick-infested areas, but you may also consider using a bevy of tick-repellent products to keep the bugs away.
It’s practically impossible to keep fleas and ticks completely at bay. But there are some steps you can take to try and minimize the opportunities for contact with your pet.
1) Avoid Tick-Infested Areas
Ticks basically inhabit dense-wooded vegetative areas, patches of overgrown shrubs, thick brushes and places that the ground is covered with decaying leaves. Ticks engage in a behavior called “guesting” where they climb low shrubs and grass and they lurk in wait for animals(dogs in this case) to brush against their perch. Ticks also have heat sensors that can detect the body heat emitted by a dog. The tick uses its legs to grab onto your dog’s fur as the dog passes by and worms its way through the fur and then gorge itself on the dogs blood in order to fertilize its eggs. So ensure you stay on trails when hiking or taking a walk with your pet and make sure that your pet remains with you avoiding wooded areas and long grasses
2) Identify tick habitat in your yard
Rake up decaying leaves, trim overgrown brush and keep your dog from sticking its nose into wooded areas. Keep your lawn trimmed low too below ankle height,
Secure trash cans with strong lids, take out any rock piles and brush cover. All these will help keep away rodents that may carry ticks.
3) Check your dogs for ticks everyday especially if its been outside
Dogs tend to pick up many more ticks than humans do. So groom your dog after a walk in the woods. Work through its fur with a fine toothed comb to remove any ticks clingling to its fur. Part fur with your hands and inspect your dogs skin to make sure ticks have not taken root and also feel for irreglar lumps.
Remember to check between your dogs toes, head, in the ears, armpits, belly and all around tail. If you find a tick, use tweezers or a tick scoop to remove right away and be gentle. Do not crush or break off the tick , ensure you remove completely. Always ask your vet to do a tick check at each exam.
4) Check your home for ticks
Dogs carry ticks in that do not latch immediately but instead spread throughout a home, so keep your eyes peeled for small eight legged spides or mite like creatures. Consider spreading diatomeaceous earth, baking soda or dorax into your carpet to kill fleas and ticks.
5) Using topical insecticide
Try applying a topical insecticide directly to your dogs skin for long term protection. This maybe the easiest solution as a one time dose will protect your dog from fleas for anywhere from 30 to 90 days.
6) Keep Dog(s) Indoors
While you do have to take your dog outside a few times a day, it is probably not a good idea to allow him to stay outside for extended periods during the height of tick season. Preventing your dog from roaming through wooded areas where ticks are likely to be lying in wait is a very effective way of keeping your pet safe from exposure.
7) Oral Medications
Pills that are given once a month are readily available for dogs. These medications can work to kill both ticks and immature fleas and will disrupt the life cycle of fleas. They are easy to give and you won’t have to be concerned about small children and cats coming into contact with dogs immediately after application, as you might with spot-on treatments.
8) Try fitting your dog with tick collar
Tick collars need to be changed every 3 to 4 months but they are relatively non-intrusive and they will kill ticks. Many tick collars contain a dog safe pesticide –an acaricide- that kills ticks without poisioning your dog. Although they are mainly only useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks. The tick collar needs to make contact with your dog’s skin in order to transfer the chemicals onto the dog’s fur and skin. Watch for signs of discomfort (e.g., excessive scratching) in case an allergic reaction to the collar occurs after you put the collar on your dog. Make sure you read the labels carefully when choosing a collar
9) Try using tick repellent spays
These are typically a one-time use and they wear off quickly. Tick sprays are often made from natural ingredients. Be careful not to mix medications. Ask your veterinarian before starting you dog on a new anti-tick product. Particularly if it’s a pesticide.
10) Tick Dips
A dip is a concentrated chemical that needs to be diluted in water and applied to the animal’s fur with a sponge or poured over the back. This treatment is not meant to be rinsed off after application. The chemicals used in dips can be very strong, so be sure to read the labels carefully before use. You should not use a dip for very young animals (under four months) or for pregnant or nursing pets. Ask your veterinarian for advice before treating puppies, or pregnant or nursing pets.
Another method of topical medication, tick powders work to kill and repel ticks from your dog. These powders should be used with care during application. Be sure that the powder you are using is labeled for dogs before use, as well as for your dog’s specific age. Also, make sure you check the label to make sure that the product is designed to kill ticks as well as fleas. This very fine powder can be an irritant to the mouth or lungs if inhaled, so use small amounts and slowly rub it into the skin. Keep powders away from the face and eyes when applying. You will need to reapply the product more often, about once a week during peak season. Some powders can also be used in areas where your dog sleeps, and in other parts of the household your dog frequents
12) Bathe your dog in flea-and -tick-shampoo
These products are primarilly designed to rid your dog of the ticks that he already has on him although some shampoos have a lingering anti tick effect. To properly use, apply shampoo over the dogs entire body and leave for at least 10 minutes before you rinse off. Remember to potect your dogs eyes and ears.
This can be an inexpensive (though labor-intensive) method of protecting your dog during the peak tick season. You will need to repeat the process more often, about every two weeks, as the effective ingredients won’t last as long as a spot-on or oral medication.
13) Using natural repellents
Consider keeping your dog pesticide-free, the use of pesticides to treat pets particularly permethrin which is toxic is somewhat controversial. So feel free to purchase natural repellents or read through the ingredients of any pesticide or better still ask your veterinarian. Preventing ticks doesn’t need to be a chemical based treatment. There a many all natural methods of prevention so your dog can live a healthy, chemical free life.
Always remember, Consistency is key. Even one missed dose of your monthly flea and tick control can set the stage for a flea infestation that takes months to resolve, or put your pet at greater risk of exposure to a tick borne disease. So be sure you treat your pet now and continue monthly applications throughout the rest of the year.