Ticks can cause harm to your pets and your family. As it gets warmer your pets are at risk for ticks. A topical tick preventative is always best, but that doesn’t mean you should be less vigilant about ticks. Here are some tips to help keep your pet tick free.
Avoiding Tick-Infested Areas
Ticks inhabit dense, wooded vegetative areas–patches of overgrown shrubs, meadows with thick brush, and places where the ground is covered with decaying leaves. Be especially cautious if you’re passing through an area with low, thick underbrush.
Ticks climb low shrubs and grass until they’re 18-24 inches off the ground, and they lurk in wait for animals–like your dog–to brush against their perch.
Ticks 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. It worms its way through the fur and begins to gorge itself on the dog’s blood in order to fertilize its eggs.
Stay on the trails when hiking with your pet, and make sure that your pet remains with you. Avoid wooded areas and long grasses where ticks are common. If your dog runs off the trail (as they often do), make sure to check him for ticks when you get home.
Identify tick habitat in your yard.
If your dog spends a lot of time running about your yard, it may be at risk of encountering ticks.
Ticks congregate on the fringes: where yards border wooded areas; where there are ornamental plantings and thick gardens; and anywhere shady, where leaves are decaying with high humidity.
Rake up decaying leaves, trim brush, and keep your dog from sticking its nose into wooded areas. Keep your lawn trimmed low (below ankle height) so that it doesn’t become a hospitable environment for ticks.
Certain pests like rats or racoons carry ticks, so secure your trash cans with strong lids.
Check your dog for ticks every day, especially if it’s been outside.
Groom your dog after a walk in the woods. Work through its fur with a fine-toothed comb to remove any ticks that are clinging to the hairs. Part the fur with your hands and inspect your dog’s skin to make sure that no ticks have already taken root. Feel for irregular lumps.
Remember to check between your dog’s toes, behind and in the ears, in the armpits and belly, and all around the tail and the head.
If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away. Use tweezers or a tick scoop, and be gentle. If you’re using tweezers: Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible by gripping its head. Steadily pull upward until the tick releases his grip. Do not twist or jerk the tick or you might break off the head or mouth parts; you do not want to leave the tick head embedded in your pet’s skin. Do not squeeze to the point of crushing the tick, or you may may spread any diseases that the tick is carrying.
Check your home for ticks. Dogs can carry ticks in that do not latch on immediately, but instead spread throughout a home. Keep your eyes peeled for small, eight-legged, spider- or mite-like creatures.
Be aware that ticks may take a while to work their way through the fur before they actually bite a dog. If your dog comes into the house before the tick has properly latched on, there’s a chance that the tick will instead find its way onto you or one of your family members.
Ticks love thick carpets or fabrics–anywhere that they can hide. Vacuum your home if you suspect a tick infestation, using baking soda, or borax on your carpet can kill fleas and ticks, but use sparingly.