How to Keep Your Dog Safe From Ticks This Summer
Summer is the season for adventuring, and no one likes to get outdoors more than your furry friend. Whether you’re soaking up some sun at a dog-friendly beach, having a puppy picnic in the park or heading on a hike with your canine companion, summer is the paw-fect time to grab your leash, pack up your pup’s Barkpack and hit the road!
But before your next outdoor adventure, it’s important to make sure you’re protecting your pooch from one of summer’s most pervasive parasites: ticks! What are ticks, why are they dangerous for your dog, and how do you and your pup avoid them? Keep reading to find out!
What are ticks, and where are they found?
Ticks are eight-legged parasites that bite humans and animals to feed on their blood. Although they start out small and are hard to spot at first, they become larger, rounder and more noticeable as they consume more blood. Ticks can vary in size and color (from brown and reddish-brown to black), and the most common types of ticks in the United States are deer ticks, dog ticks and Lone Star ticks.
Ticks primarily hide out in wooded or grassy areas (including your own backyard!), and are common all across the U.S., as well as in other countries. While they can be found all over your dog’s body, they often latch on to their feet, under armpits, or on their head, neck and ears.
Why are ticks dangerous to dogs?
Although some tick bites can be harmless, they can put both animals and humans at risk of bacterial and viral infections. These include tick-borne illnesses like lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, tick paralysis and more.
Symptoms of a tick-borne illness in dogs include (but aren’t limited to):
- Swollen joints, stiffness and limping
- Increased thirst and/or urination
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes
For many tick-borne illnesses, symptoms don’t show up for weeks or even months. So even if you haven’t come into contact with ticks in the last several days, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian if your dog begins to display any of the above symptoms.
How do I protect my pup from ticks?
As with many things, prevention is key! Make sure your pup is receiving a monthly tick prevention treatment (whether in topical or oral form). You can also ask your vet about receiving a lyme disease vaccine for your pup.
If possible, avoid grassy or wooded areas where ticks are most likely to be lurking. But if you plan to venture out into these terrains, toss on a pair of dog boot leggings to protect your pup. Walkee Paws Deluxe Easy-On Boot Leggings are specially designed to cover Fido’s feet and legs, preventing ticks from lodging in between their toes or crawling onto their leg fur. (P.S. Our hot pink leggings are paw-fect in summer, as it’s easy to spot ticks and remove them before they bite your dog!).
After each walk or outdoor adventure, be sure to brush your dog thoroughly and do a full-body tick check. If you happen to spot a tick crawling in your pup’s fur, remove it immediately and flush it down the toilet. If you come across a tick that’s already attached to your dog, you can safely remove it using the following steps:
- Pour rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, then apply it to the area where the tick is attached.
- Getting as close to your dog’s skin as possible, use a pair of tweezers to slowly pull upwards on the tick (being careful not to twist or yank, which could leave pieces of the tick behind).
- Place the tick in alcohol or flush it down the toilet.
- Dab the bite wound with a bit of antiseptic, then wash your hands thoroughly.
- Monitor your dog for any symptoms of a tick-borne illness, and contact your vet immediately if symptoms appear.