How to Prevent Ticks on Dogs: 13 Prevention Tips
Ticks are dangerous parasites that can carry Lyme disease. Tick bites and the tick-borne diseases they carry can be life-threatening to your dog's health.
The best way to prevent ticks on dogs is by applying a monthly flea and tick preventative. Scanning your dog's fur and skin for ticks and safeguarding your home with an effective household spray are other great tools.
Here are 13 prevention tips for keeping ticks off dogs, people, and your home.
Protect your pets.
It might be difficult to know how to keep ticks off dogs, but it's not impossible. Prevent ticks at every life cycle stage with these tips.
1. Keep your pets groomed.
Bathing your dog regularly is a great way to remove ticks and other parasites. The frequency of bathing will depend on your dog's breed and lifestyle.
For example, if you have an outdoor dog, they're going to need more frequent baths than one that spends most of their time indoors. Plus, when your dog's fur is clean and combed you'll be able to check for ticks more easily.
The type of shampoo or soap you use also matters when it comes to tick prevention. Opt for products designed for dogs such as flea shampoos or oatmeal-based shampoos that are safe for your pet's skin. These are also great for hygienic cleansings and soothing stressed skin during the hot summer months.
2. Search for ticks regularly.
Ticks climb and wait on grass or in bushes, no higher than 2 feet off the ground. They also seek out body heat which makes a great combo for dogs walking by. This is why it's so important to give your dog a thorough tick check after they spend time outdoors.
Pay particular attention to key areas ticks like to hide. Start at the top of their head and work your way along their back to their tail. Once you’ve checked along their backside, turn your attention to the front half of their body: legs, belly, arm pits, and paws.
Carefully comb through thick mats of fur to ensure that no ticks are hiding inside them or under them. The best way to do this is by using a fine-toothed comb or a flea comb. This can be somewhat tricky depending on whether your dog has short hair or long fur.
3. Know how to remove ticks properly.
If you find a tick on your dog, remove it immediately. Tick removal can be tricky because the tick attaches deep into your dog's skin. If you don't remove them right away, they could continue to feed and increase the risk of disease.
The best way to remove a tick from a dog is to:
- Gently pull the tick as close to your dog's skin as possible
- Dispose of the tick in a container with rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol
- Save it in the freezer and share it with your veterinarian if your dog develops symptoms
Knowing how to safely remove a tick from a dog is only half the battle. The best way to prevent a tick infestation is to be proactive about your dog's exposure.
4. Use vet-quality flea and tick prevention products.
To prevent ticks, it’s important to treat your dog with vet-quality flea and tick preventatives. Plus, flea and tick season lasts all year long in some states — not just the warmer months. This means you need a solution that protects your dog, no matter where you live.
These products help prevent disease transmission through their ability to:
- Repel ticks and fleas
- Kill fleas and ticks
- Prevent a future flea infestation
Your dog needs year-round preventative treatment to ward off pests and stay healthy. Search for products that are EPA-approved and formulated by a vet.
Topical flea and tick prevention
Topical flea and tick prevention products are the best way to avoid tick exposure and Lyme disease. Pet parents apply topicals to their dog's skin and help kill adult fleas, flea larvae, and tick eggs.
Topicals are great in preventing tick-borne illness. This is because they repel ticks from making their way to your dog in the first place.
If you choose to use a topical treatment like Wags® Advance for Dogs, remember that these products are for dogs only. Some ingredients, like permethrin, are fatal to cats. So, make sure you never use dog medication on cats or kittens.
You may also consider using an oral medication like Nexgard, Sentinel, or Bravecto. Oral treatments are convenient options if your dog spends a lot of time in the water where ticks can thrive.
Flea and tick collars are worn around your dog's neck. The collar can be placed right above or below your dog's collar. This type of tick preventative lasts anywhere from six to eight months and repels fleas and ticks.
Natural tick repellents
There are some household solutions that can act as a tick repellent. Some examples include apple cider vinegar, essential oils, and garlic. But, exercise caution when using natural tick repellents. They are not formulated for your dog's weight, age, and breed like products you can find at the pet store.
5. Choose a product with ingredients that work.
If you want to keep ticks off your pup, you’ll need to use products that contain the right active ingredients. Look for flea and tick products that attack fleas at every life cycle stage and repel ticks all year long.
- Adulticides: These chemicals help kill adult ticks. Examples include Imidacloprid and Fipronil (found in Wags Advance® for Dogs).
- Insect Growth Regulators: These chemicals prevent flea eggs from hatching. Some examples include Pyriproxyfen and Methoprene.
- Pyrethroid: Dogs can be infected by a tick bite, even if the tick later dies from an insecticide. Pyrethroids act as repellents decreasing the chance of an infection.
Other products need the tick to bite your dog to be effective. Permethrin is a pyrethroid proven by the EPA as safe for both animals and humans.
Permethrin is toxic to cats. If you have a dog do not use their flea and tick treatment on your cat.
Ticks are just as harmful to you as they are to your pet. Stay in the center of trails and away from vegetation when hiking in wooded areas. And keep yourself safe with protective clothing and repellent.
6. Wear the right gear.
Keep ticks at bay by wearing the right gear. Start with long pants and shirts, closed-toe shoes, and light-colored clothing to easily spot ticks. The more skin you can cover the better to avoid a tick bite. Hats are a great way to protect your scalp and ears where ticks like to live.
7. Use an effective tick-repellent.
Humans can also use an effective tick repellent that repels and kills ticks. The most effective tick repellent contains DEET or PICARIDIN and is available in spray bottles and lotions. Sprays should have at least 20% of the active ingredient.
When applying the product, be sure not to spray it into your ears, eyes, mouth, or nose. Rather, spray it onto your hands first before applying it to your skin. Apply before heading outside and reapply as needed.
Protect your home.
If you find a tick in or around your house, contact a licensed pest control professional for help. Most companies offer dog-friendly solutions, but be sure to ask ahead of time. In the meantime, follow these tips for preventing pests.
8. Keep your yard clean.
Improve tick control by keeping your yard clean and tidy. Grassy, wooded areas are the ultimate tick habitat. You can do this by:
- Picking up leaves, twigs, branches, and woody foliage in your yard
- Trimming back bushes, grass, and other plants that can provide a hiding place for ticks
- Keeping the area around your home clear of clutter
- Removing leaves from the area where you walk your dog
9. Mow the lawn regularly.
Mowing the lawn regularly is a great way to prevent ticks. Ticks love grassy areas they can crawl through to find their hosts. So, they are more likely to be on your dog if there's a lot of it.
For best results, keep your lawn short by mowing it at least once a week. In spring and summer months, consider making it shorter by adjusting your mower's height to cut the grass to two inches or less.
10. Keep wildlife from entering your yard.
Unfortunately, the cute rabbits and squirrels in your neighborhood can carry ticks. To keep critters out, start by keeping the area around your yard tidy.
Trim bushes, shrubs, and hedges that are close to your porch or deck. Clear brush and weeds from around the perimeter of your property. This includes mulch, which ticks love to hide in.
Do not leave large piles of leaves lying around anywhere near where people may come in contact with them during the summer months. This is another favorite tick habitat where they can hide and seek their next host. And be sure to secure any holes in fencing to prevent larger animals from trespassing at night.
11. Secure your trash bins.
There are a few simple things you can do to keep ticks from infesting your home. One of the biggest attractions for pests is trash.
- Buy and use a trash bin with a lid. That way when you're throwing away your garbage there's no opportunity for parasites to escape or critters to enter.
- Dispose of lawn clippings right away. Immediately after mowing or cleaning up, put clippings in your trash bin and secure the lid.
- Use a trash bag with a drawstring. This will ensure that the trash bag doesn't accidentally open as it's being carried out of the house.
12. Safeguard your home.
Keeping fleas and ticks away starts with a clean and tidy home. But, there are several other ways that you can repel ticks altogether.
Don't leave any food out overnight. This gives smaller animals, that might be carrying fleas or ticks, an incentive to stick around and try to get inside.
Make sure all doors leading outdoors have screens over them so nothing gets through. And, use a household spray with an IGR. This helps kill ticks, adult fleas, lice, and other parasites.
13. Wash pet bedding and kennels.
Unfortunately, some types of ticks thrive inside. Make a habit to clean your pet’s beds, blankets, and safe spaces often.
- Vacuum carpets, furniture, and pet beds. This will help you avoid flea infestation and ticks. Empty vacuum bags in your trash bin right after cleaning.
- Wash pet bedding regularly. The best way to prevent ticks on dogs is to wash your pet's bedding every week. Using hot water and a detergent that is effective against ticks.
- Dry pet bedding in a dryer on high heat. Once your pet's bedding has been washed, put it in the dryer on high heat to help kill off parasites.
At the end of the day, ticks carry dangerous diseases that can put your dog's health at risk. To kill ticks your pet needs a veterinarian-formulated flea and tick treatment. Preventative treatment is the best disease-control strategy against fleas and ticks.
If you find yourself needing to get rid of ticks, start by taking these simple steps:
- Keep your dog protected from tick-borne disease with flea and tick treatment
- Consult your veterinarian for advice as needed
- Get rid of fleas for good in your home with a dog-friendly household spray
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