We all love our dogs, but no one likes dealing with ticks. These nasty little blood suckers are gross, especially when they’re all gorged on your dog’s blood. So let’s talk today about how you can best treat and prevent ticks on your dog.
What are the best ways to treat and prevent ticks on dogs? There are many excellent ways to manage your dog if you find ticks. You can use topical medication, shampoos, dips, sprays, and more. There are also many ways to prevent ticks from ever getting near your dog’s blood. Some of those include collars, grooming, and keeping your lawn trimmed back.
The methods we have found are all approved by veterinarians. Here they are.
The Best Ways to Treat Ticks on Dogs
If you find ticks on your dog, one of the things that you can do is use over-the-counter spot-on medication. You can buy these spot-on treatments from your local pet store, veterinarian, or online, and they are quite effective at controlling both fleas and ticks.
Spot-on treatments will keep the ticks away for up to a month.
Just one note of caution. Spot-on medications can work great; however, you still need to be cautious about which product you use. Be sure that you read all labels thoroughly. If you have any doubts or questions, check with your veterinarian before application. You should also be careful that children and cats don’t come into contact with the treatment once you put it on your dog.
Oral medications are another effective treatment for ticks on dogs. Most oral medicines are given to your dog once a month. One of the great things about these medications is that they can kill both ticks and fleas. Oral medications are easy to give. Plus, you won’t have to worry about small children or cats coming into contact with the dog immediately following application, like you would with spot-on treatments.
Medicated shampoos are another option. If you bathe your dog with a medicated shampoo, it will effectively kill ticks on contact. This method will take a little more work on your part, but it is generally inexpensive, and it can protect your dog during tick season.
With this method, you will have to repeat the treatment more often than you would with spot-on treatments or oral medications because the medication doesn’t last as long. You should use the shampoo every two weeks for the best results.
You could also try tick dips. Tick dips contain concentrated chemicals that are diluted in water and then applied to the animal’s fur. You won’t rinse the treatment off after application.
Make sure that you read all labels carefully before you use a tick dip because the chemicals can be powerful. It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t use dips on very young dogs or pregnant or nursing pets. Check with your veterinarian for advice on treating puppies or pregnant pets.
Another option that you should consider for both treatment and prevention is tick collars. Tick collars work by repelling ticks. For this method to be effective, the collar must make contact with the dog’s skin. Make sure that the collar fits properly. There should be just enough room to fit two fingers under the collar when your dog is wearing it. Cut off any excess of the collar to keep your dog from chewing on it.
With this form of treatment, you should pay close attention to any signs of discomfort. If your dog is excessively scratching, for example, that would be a good indication of an allergic reaction. Read all labels carefully before you purchase a tick collar.
If you are looking for topical medication, tick powders are another option. They will work to both kill and repel ticks and fleas from your pet.
It’s essential that you use care during application. You should make sure that the powder you’re using is labeled for use on dogs. It should also be labeled for your dog’s specific age.
It’s essential that you use small amounts of the product and slowly rub it into your dog’s skin. Be sure that you keep the powder away from your dog’s face and eyes when applying. And be aware that the fine powder can be a problem for the lungs and mouth if inhaled.
During peak tick season, you will need to reapply the powder about once a week. Some powders can be used in parts of your house where your dog frequents.
A final method that you can use to get rid of ticks on your dog is tick sprays. Tick sprays are another topical medication. They will kill ticks quickly, and they will also provide residual protection.
One thing that you can do is to use tick sprays in between dips and shampoos. You can also use them before your dog spends time in any wooded areas, where ticks are just waiting for them.
It’s crucial that you are careful when using this product, or any topical medication, around your pet’s face. And you shouldn’t use this product on or around any other animal in your home.
Some Natural Tick Remedies
If you are worried about using strong chemicals on your dog, there are some natural alternatives that you can try.
Cedar oil spray
This is a natural, non-toxic tick and flea repellent. You can spray it directly on skin and clothing. Cedar oil spray is safe to use on both humans and pets. And this spray doesn’t just repel ticks. It also kills them. You can purchase cedar oil spray online and at many pet stores.
Eucalyptus oil is another natural tick repellent and killer. You should combine four ounces of distilled or purified water in a spray bottle with about 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Shake the bottle before using it on your skin, pants, and shoes. Eucalyptus oil is safe to use on dogs. However, you must dilute the oil with water before you apply it to your dog.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can do many incredible things for you. This amazing natural remedy can also help to kill and remove ticks. Yes, really! Just combine the following in a spray bottle and apply it to your skin and clothing. You can also use it safely on your dog.
- 2 cups of water
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons organic neem oil
The Best Ways to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Ticks
In addition to learning how to treat your dog for ticks, it’s also essential that you know how to prevent getting ticks in the first place.
Treat your dog for ticks and fleas year-round
Because fleas and ticks thrive in warmer temperatures, they are much more common in summer months. However, they can survive inside during the winter, even in cold climates.
This is why many veterinarians recommend using year-round preventative methods to protect your dog. You can use several of the treatments for ticks for preventative measures too.
Be sure to check with your vet for the best year-round product to meet your dog’s individual needs.
Don’t use old or expired products
If you’ve had old tick medications in your cabinet for a long time, it’s probably time to throw them out. The problem with using old products, especially products beyond their expiration date, is that they lose their effectiveness.
It’s also always a good idea to check with your vet to see if any new products on the market may work better than what you’ve been using.
Do regular tick checks
If your dog has been in an area that may have ticks, it’s vital that you do a tick check once you’re inside. Make sure that you inspect your dog’s ears, skin, and armpits for ticks.
Deer ticks are one thing to look for. These ticks bite your dog. It takes 24 hours for the pathogen that causes Lyme disease to be transmitted. To prevent that transmission, it’s essential that you find and get rid of any ticks as soon as possible.
Not every tick bite will transmit a disease to your dog. However, it’s still a good idea to alert your vet that your dog has been bitten. It’s also essential that you monitor your dog’s behavior after a tick has bitten them. Look for any changes like loss of appetite, lethargy, or limping. If you notice any of these, you should take your dog to the vet.
Regularly groom your pet
One of the best ways that you can keep your dog free from ticks is to groom them regularly. Grooming will help you to check under your dog’s haircoat for any external parasites that may be hiding. And on top of keeping the ticks away, grooming is also an excellent way to spend quality time and bond with your pet.
And don’t use canine products on cats!
It is imperative that you not use tick products formulated for dogs on cats. Some tick and flea preventatives contain ingredients that are toxic to cats.
If you use canine products on cats, it can cause very severe reactions which would require immediate emergency care.
The best thing you can do is to read all labels carefully. The label will tell you which species the product is appropriate for. You must use these products only as intended.
Treat your house and lawn
If you want to reduce the population of ticks and fleas in your backyard, you have to keep the grass, trees, and bushes trimmed back. Doing so reduces the areas for ticks to live and breed.
If you find that you’re still having a problem with ticks in your yard, you should consider getting one of the household and yard sprays. You can get these and other granular treatments at your local pet store, veterinarian, or local garden center.
Make sure that you use caution with these products because they can be harmful to humans, fish, and other animals. If you have any concerns about using these chemicals, then you may want to hire an exterminator to apply the yard spray to control fleas and ticks.
Keep your dog inside
You will have to take your dog outside several times a day. However, it’s probably not the best idea to allow your dog to stay outside for long periods during peak tick season.
Try to prevent your dog from roaming around wooded areas where ticks are likely waiting. This is an effective way to keep the ticks from your dog, but you will still need to check their fur and skin after walks through brush and grass. Checking your dog thoroughly will ensure that your dog has minimal risk of becoming the next summer snack for a pesky tick.
Are Ticks Dangerous?
Ticks can attach to your dog by biting into their skin. You may find that some ticks also produce a glue-like, sticky substance that helps them remain attached to the animal. Once the tick has attached to your pet, it will begin feeding on the dog’s blood. You will find that the areas on your dog where the ticks attach can become irritated and red.
In most cases, ticks are just a minor irritation. However, in rare cases, they can consume enough blood from your dog to make him anemic. But that’s not the only danger that ticks pose.
Some female ticks can also give your dog a rare paralysis. This is caused by toxins they produce while feeding on your dog’s blood. And on top of that, ticks can bring with them many diseases which could be a problem for your dog. One of those diseases is Lyme disease. Another illness that ticks carry is Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
If your dog gets Lyme disease from ticks, it can cause swelling and arthritis in the dog’s joints, which could result in painful lameness. If your dog gets Rocky Mountain spotted fever, they will experience fever, lameness, and other signs.
These aren’t the only diseases that ticks can transmit to your dog either. You should ask your veterinarian about other diseases that are prevalent where you live.
What Are the Different Types of Ticks?
There are two different groups of ticks. They are what are called hard ticks and soft ticks.
Hard ticks like the American dog tick, for example, are called such because they have a hard shield located just behind the mouthparts. You can identify unfed hard ticks by their flat seed-like shape.
Soft ticks, on the other hand, are shaped more like a raisin, and they don’t have the hard shield. Soft ticks are rarely found on dogs or cats. Instead, they mostly prefer to feed on bats and birds.
The Lifecycle of a Tick
There are four distinct stages to the life of a tick:
- The egg
- Six-legged larva
- Eight-legged nymph
Female ticks can deposit somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 eggs on the ground. Adult ticks will then seek a host animal to feed on. Once a tick has bitten your dog, it engorges on blood. It will then quickly mate.
Hard tick males will usually die after mating with a female, although some can live for several months. Female ticks will die shortly after laying their eggs on the ground. Depending on the species, ticks can live anywhere from two months to two years.
Once the egg hatches, the tiny larva will then feed on an animal host. The larva will then molt or develop into a larger nymph. That nymph will feed on a host and then molt into an even bigger adult.
The adult females and males will feed and mate on the host. The female will then fall to the ground to lay her eggs. And the life cycle continues.
Why Are Ticks Attracted to Dogs?
Ticks are attracted to warm temperatures, movement, and the carbon dioxide that your dog exhales. Ticks can’t jump or fly. Instead, they sort of lay in wait on fences or tall grass. Once the tick senses a large object and detects carbon dioxide, it will then latch on and find a dark, warm spot on the dog to dig in and feed.
Some Other Facts About Ticks
- While Lyme disease is the most common disease that is transmitted to dogs by ticks, it’s certainly not the only disease that your dog can get from the parasite.
- Because ticks can transmit pathogens if a tick bites a dog with a specific disease, that disease can be transferred to another animal that the tick bites.
- Tick-related diseases can vary from region to region. So be sure to check with your veterinarian about your particular geographic location.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that there are many products available to kill ticks. There are even some natural products that you can make yourself. Keeping your dog safe from ticks is an essential part of having a healthy pet.
It’s true that ticks themselves only cause minor irritation. However, it’s crucial that you know that ticks can carry diseases that could pose serious health threats to both humans and animals. You can prevent ticks by regularly using the products that we have listed.