It’s that dreaded time of year again here in Maine when everyone’s least favorite bug emerges… the tick! These pesky parasites are a nuisance to everyone who goes outside, but our canine companions definitely get the worst of their wrath. Not only are ticks sneaky and hard to see, but once attached to your dog, a tick can cause a wide range of health problems from skin irritation to Lyme disease. Because of this, it’s important to know these six simple but effective tricks to keeping ticks off and away from your furry friend so that everyone can enjoy the outdoors this summer!
1. Use a Flea/Tick Preventative
The first rule to keeping ticks and other annoying parasites off of your pup is to use a veterinary-approved flea and tick preventative. It’s always best to talk to your vet about which treatment is appropriate for your dog and to ask any questions you may have before starting it. However, with so many products to choose from ranging from topical sprays, medicated collars and even shampoos, you’re bound to find the perfect product for your pup!
2. Keep Your Grass Short & Tidy
Ticks love to hideout in tall grass and will actually perch on individual blades just waiting for someone to walk by. Making sure the grass on your lawn and around your house is cut short will help reduce the tick population from roaming close to your premises. The CDC also recommends keeping your lawn clear of leaf litter, brush, and debris to give ticks as few hideouts as possible. That way, you don’t have to worry about your pup brushing up against anything in the back yard!
3. Keep Your Dog’s Coat Short & Tidy as Well
Depending on your dog’s breed, this could be an easy task or a more complicated one. Just like with grass, ticks love animals with longer fur because it’s easier for them to grab, convenient to hide in, and harder to be removed by the animal. Because of this, keeping your dog’s coat short for the summer could be an easy solution to keeping ticks at bay. Regularly bathing your dog will also help to wash away any unattached parasites and remove things from the fur that could house them, such as leaves, twigs, and dried grass. Plus, your dog will keep cool for summer!
4. Consider an Outdoor Dog Bed
For those lazy summer days when everyone just wants to hang around outside, consider getting an outdoor dog bed for your pup. It’s no secret that our furry friends like to join in on the fun of family time outside, but with ticks lurking in the long grass this can be problematic for them. Getting your dog a bed that sits off the ground can help prevent ticks from crawling on them when they’re lying down for long periods. Making sure the bed is light in color will also help you to spot any unwanted creepy-crawly’s. Your dog will thank you for the comfort and the safety!
5. Know the Lay of the Land
As stated above, ticks love tall grass, leaf-littered ground, and wooded areas to hide in. When out and about with your dog, try avoiding these popular tick destinations by keeping your dog on a leash and monitoring where they roam. Avoid unkept fields and deep woods where your pup will be mostly likely to brush against tall grass and debris while they explore. Instead, try sticking to well-worn paths and clear areas where you know ticks would be less likely to be lurking. It’s also a good idea to use bug repellent before any long walks!
6. Do a Daily Body Check
Even when taking all precautions, odds are that your furry friend is bound to pick up a tick or two eventually. To help them keep clean of the parasite, it’s a good idea to always do a body check on your dog at least once a day so you can remove any pests as soon as possible. The CDC recommends starting with your dog’s head and ending all the way at the tip of the tail, checking in and around ears, eyes, armpits and toes as you go. With longer-coated dogs, make sure to feel right up against the skin if you can’t see, and use a small flashlight if necessary. It might be gross, but it’s the best way to keep your pup free of any unwanted hitchhikers!
Ticks are annoying at best and can be deadly at worst, so it’s always a good idea to take the necessary steps to keep your dog (and you!) safe from this pesky parasite. While you shouldn’t be afraid to bring your dog outside, it’s always better to be prepared so you both can enjoy a fun, safe, and parasite-free summer!