How To Prevent Ticks On Dogs While Hiking
In this post we will cover how to prevent ticks on dogs while hiking, however we will also cover some other issues that may be of interest when protecting your pooch from ticks. Ticks are a real nuisance and if you have owned a dog for a while or have owned one in the past you will be well aware of what they are. For those of you who don’t know what a tick is, there are many different types and the concerns regarding ticks may be different for each country they are native to.
What Is A Tick
Ticks usually live in moist undergrowth such as woodland floors and have various stages of life. Initially they start out small as larvae and eventually grow into something that vaguely resembles a spider. They are related to spiders and mites and will latch onto passing animals or humans to eventually feed on their blood…gruesome i know. Click here to learn more about what ticks are and the dangers associated with them.
Tips For Preventing Ticks Latching On
When trying to prevent ticks on dogs while hiking, it can be a good idea to seek advice from your local vet as they will know what species of tick is local to your area and where they are commonly found. Prevention is difficult if you live and hike in a area where there are ticks, for example areas where sheep farming is common can often produce lots of ticks.
We happen to live in an area that is known for ticks, unfortunately this is due to the warm moist landscape that covers much of Devon in England. Despite its beauty it also has its small critters that like to call it home, i don’t mind sharing but ticks are particularly annoying. As mentioned before prevention is difficult but here are some tips to help reduce the chance of a tick latching onto you or your dog.
- Try to avoid hiking in areas with dense growth such as woodland or near rivers.
- Try sticking to the path and stop your dog heading into the bushes as ticks will climb plants and wait for a passer by to latch onto.
- Give your dog a coat or doggy shirt, this may make it more difficult for ticks to latch on and will also make them easier to spot.
- As you enjoy your hike, keep checking yourself and your dog for any ticks. They usually latch onto human legs and will often spend a while trying to find a good place to bite.
- Ticks always try to find the easiest place to bite a dog so from personal experience you will often find them making their way towards a dogs face where the fur is shorter.
- There are many tick repellents on the market that you can use on your dog. However you can also use natural repellents which are homemade such as ones made with vinegar or citrus.
- Remember to fully check yourself and your dog once you arrive back home as some ticks can breed inside your home creating more ticks.
How To Remove A Tick From A Dog
With all your efforts put into preventing your dog from getting a tick you will most likely fail. There will be multiple occasions with even the most vigilant dog owners that a tick will latch onto your dog. This is where knowing how to remove a tick safely is important.
Ticks are made of mainly a body and mouth, it is the mouth that pierces the skin to begin feeding. Once a tick has bitten it sticks to your dogs skin quite rigidly and becomes difficult to remove without the correct tooling. Lots of people tend to use tweezers, however this could potential cause you to tear the ticks body from its mouth which is inserted into your dogs skin. If the mouth is left in your dogs skin it may become likely that the area will be infected, this is why it is best to use the appropriate tooling.
From my experience tick twisters seem to always remove a tick fully from my dogs skin. You may have seen them at your vets or local pet store as they tend to be small bright green sticks. You use this tool by hooking the end underneath the ticks body and twisting upwards to remove the entire tick from your dogs body. If you want to have a look at a more detailed instruction for using the tick remover tool then take a look at this post Tick Removal – Using Tweezers or a Tick Removal Tool
This is something that i thought i would detail separately as many owners like to reduce the amount of medicinal solutions to dog related problems. Much like worms or fleas ticks can be treated using medicine, you can purchase popular tick preventing medicine from pet stores or from your vet. Using medicines is very common and we use ones prescribed by our vet which protects our dog from ticks. Below are some of the medicinal solutions for you to consider.
- Tick Collars – These are not the popular choice but if you live in a tick infested area you may consider the use of one. They are not 100% effective as they usually only protect the area around your dogs neck. The idea is that they secrete a chemical onto your dogs skin and fur which kills the ticks on contact, much like controlling fleas.
- Tick Shampoo – If you plan on washing your dog during the Tick season then you could substitute your normal shampoo for one with ingredients for killing ticks. The shampoo will usually kill any ticks that are on your dog at the time. This method tends to give a bit more piece of mind but also tends to be more labour intensive.
- Oral Medication – There are medications which your vet can prescribe as a more routine solution. Most oral medications will kill Ticks once they bite, causing them to fall off your dog. This is a popular prevention method as it is usually the one prescribed by vets. Another positive about oral medication is the fact that no chemicals will be touchable on your dog, meaning you can still have a cuddle.
Can My Dog Get Ticks In The Winter
Again this is a question that tends to be different all over the world. It is mainly dependent on the kind of winters a country has or what animals are common in that country over winter. When speaking about the UK Ticks tend to be most active from March until October, but does this mean they all die off in the winter. Its true that ticks love damp conditions and so moorland or woodland areas where the temperatures are increasing slightly but still remain wet are the best. This does not mean that ticks will only survive in these conditions and despite being a rarer occurrence can still be found during the winter months. It may be that they have found a good place to survive such as within the woodland undergrowth or in the fur of deer and sheep.
Its something that dog owners should be aware of but it is not something that is a common occurrence. Springtime is the best time of year to become highly vigilant over ticks or if there is an increase in livestock suddenly around the area. The warmer weather brings many more issues despite those wonderful long days, walking your dog safely can be difficult. If you want to learn more about walking your dog in the summer then check out our guide on dog walking in the summer.
Preventing Ticks On Dogs Naturally
We mentioned briefly about natural tick prevention remedies, and these are something that are increasing in popularity. Although many veterinarians wont put their professional opinion on them being something that works, many people swear by them.
There are lots of remedies online that you can have a go at but it appears from research that there are some essentials oils that could be harmful to your dog. Its good to do some in depth research on the recipe you choose and make sure that anything you are putting on your dog is not going to make them ill. Remember that dogs can wash themselves and inadvertently ingest what you are putting on their skin. Its also possible that while natural remedies are an answer on how to prevent ticks on dogs while hiking, during hikes they could be swimming which would wash any natural remedy away.
If you plan on using a natural home remedy for controlling ticks then its a good idea to test various different remedies to see which one works the best. Keeping a tick diary is something many people do just to find out what is working. Start taking your diary on walks and filling it in afterwards, most importantly its best to take observations from the start of spring throughout the tick season until the winter.
Ticks will always be something that interferes with the good times your spending with your dog. The main points to take out of this is decreasing the likelihood of ticks attaching themselves to your pooch while hiking. Don’t give ticks the opportunity to get what they want and if your dog does have a tick attached to them be careful with removal ensuring you keep on top during the tick season.