Ticks are one of those unfortunate realities that we have to consider when taking our dogs on walks in forests or fields. They’re tiny, they’re gross and it’s best to avoid them, but don’t let fear of ticks ruin your fun in the sun.
With a keen eye and a few helpful tips you can enjoy nature without ticks getting you down.
Use a Leash
When taking your dog for a walk it’s really important to be a good guide. If you’re like most pet owners and you walk your dog on a leash it’s a good idea to steer them clear of tall grassy areas.
Grass and shrubs seem harmless enough and that’s exactly why they’re the perfect place for ticks to hide.
Ticks are so small and animals are so big that ticks often have a difficult time latching on to anything moving quickly. So how do ticks solve this problem? They climb.
Ticks do something called ‘questing’ which is a term used to describe the act of a tick seeking out a high vantage point.
They climb tall blades of grass and wait for an animal to brush by, giving them the perfect opportunity to latch on and secure a fresh source of blood.
So it’s a good idea to avoid getting too close to any knee high grass or shrubs on your hikes.
Avoid going off trail
When taking your dogs on trails it is very important to remain on the path.
When you and your dog venture off the marked path you open yourself up to a lot of risks including getting lost, contracting poison ivy and becoming the prey of a patient tick.
Most public trails are well worn meaning the path has been cleared of low lying branches, tall grass and overgrown brush. Allowing you to take a nice long walk out in nature without having to dodge suspicious vegetation that could harbour ticks.
If you know you’re going to be in an area that is at high risks for ticks make sure to bring a form of tick repellent with you, or apply it to your dog before you leave. There are many tick repellent options available so it’s important to know what your options are and the pros and cons of each.
Tick collars are a very quick and easy fix for ticks!
They are easy to use. Simply put the collar on your pet and change it every few weeks to make sure the repellent hasn’t worn off.
While they do work well, they have a very small range and protection is quite limited. Most tick collars can only protect your dog’s neck and head, leaving the rest of your dog’s body vulnerable to tick bites. So if you have a tick collar, or plan on purchasing one, it might be a good idea to combine it with another method of tick prevention.
Tick spray is a good topical solution for protecting your dogs from ticks.
The upside to tick spray is that it can be applied anywhere on your dog so, unlike tick collars, your whole dog is protected from ticks.
Tick spray is best used in combination with a tick collar but that doesn’t mean you have to use it that way. However make sure that if your dog is wearing a normal collar that you spray your dog with tick spray before putting their collar on.
Ticks like to hide under collars where it’s easy for them to go unnoticed, so if you just have a regular collar spraying your dog’s bare neck before putting the collar on is essential.
Tick spray wears down over short periods of time so it’s really important to re-apply it regularly.
Tick Shampoo is a really good way of double checking. While most tick shampoos won’t protect your dog from getting ticks in the future, they are very good at repelling ticks that are already on your dog. Tick shampoo is an excellent way of getting rid of ticks that have gone unnoticed.
Tick shampoo is an excellent last resort. While it doesn’t prevent your dog from being bitten by a tick it will stop ticks currently on your dog from doing any further burrowing.
Unlike the two previously mentioned methods tick shampoo is a passive preventative method, meaning it won’t keep future ticks from latching onto your dog and burrowing.
Check Your Pet Before Heading Home
If you are taking your dog into known tick habitats it’s really important to use one or more of the tick detouring methods above before allowing your dog into your home.
Before you finally heading home after your hike you should thoroughly check your dog to make sure they haven’t picked up any hitchhikers.