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Sandra May 08, 2024

Tick Season! How To Keep Your Dog Safe and Healthy

As spring blooms and summer approaches, we eagerly embrace the great outdoors with our furry besties! But we need to be cautious and aware of ticks. These tiny, blood-sucking parasites pose a threat to both humans and our pets. With some knowledge and proactive measures, you can avoid ticks and tick-borne diseases while still enjoying the great outdoors!

Understanding Tick Season:

Tick season typically spans early spring to late fall, coinciding with warmer temperatures and increased outdoor activities. Ticks thrive in humid and wooded areas, making parks, trails, and even your backyard potential hotspots. With their knack for hitching rides on unsuspecting hosts, including our beloved dogs, it's crucial to stay vigilant throughout this period. Ticks are especially hungry in April and May after a long winter, and they are waiting to feed, so be extra cautious.

The Dangers of Ticks for Dogs:

Ticks aren't just creepy critters; they can also transmit various diseases. From the notorious Lyme disease to Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, and more, these illnesses can wreak havoc on your health and your dog's health if transmitted! Symptoms may range from mild discomfort to severe neurological issues, underscoring the importance of prevention and early detection.

Top Prevention Tips for Dog Owners:

  • Avoid Tick-Prone Areas: Be mindful of where you take your dog for walks or outdoor adventures. Avoid dense vegetation, tall grasses, bushy areas and wooded areas where ticks lurk. Opt for well-maintained, clear paths and open spaces instead. (I like to avoid forests and trails during the spring season). 
  • Utilize Tick Repellents: Your veterinarian can recommend one for you in your area with natural and safe ingredients. Whether spot-on treatments, collars, or sprays, these products can provide an extra layer of defence against these tiny intruders. Our favourite is a Canadian brand called Atlantick:
  • Consult Your Vet: Schedule a spring check-up to discuss tick preventatives tailored to your dog's needs, considering factors such as age, health status, and lifestyle. If you find a tick bite on your dog, let your vet know and schedule blood work to be done a few weeks after the bite. Our vet recommends bloodwork 4 weeks after the bite!
  • Perform Regular Tick Checks: After outdoor excursions, thoroughly inspect your dog for ticks. Pay close attention to areas where ticks commonly latch on, such as around the ears, neck, and between toes. A fine-toothed comb can be a handy tool for this task when looking through all their fur. Don't forget to check in warm, moist and hidden areas, too, like their anus and in and around their mouth!
Image found on Google, not sure who but credit to them! It is not Lambo.
  • Maintain Proper Grooming: Keep your dog's fur trimmed and tidy, especially during tick season. This not only makes tick detection easier but also reduces the risk of ticks finding a cozy hiding spot in your pet's coat and not seeing it! I like to keep Lambo's haircut shorter in the warmer months for this reason, but it's also more comfortable for him to have a lighter coat and not overheat on hotter days. 
  • Create a Tick-Free Environment: If you have a yard, take steps to minimize tick habitats by keeping grass trimmed, removing leaf litter, and creating barriers between wooded areas and your lawn. You could also consider eco-friendly tick control options that are safe for pets.

Removing Ticks:

  1. Prepare: Put on gloves to protect yourself from possible pathogens. Have a pair of fine-tipped tweezers ready. It's best to get these in advance so you already have them! I like to carry them with me on walks in my walking dog pouch, along with my poop bags, etc. 
  2. Grasp the tick: Using the tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible and grasp its head at the tip. Be gentle but firm to avoid crushing the tick's body.
  3. Pull steadily: Pull the tick's body away from the skin with steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting or jerking, as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain embedded in the skin. Do not pour anything onto the tip for it to release its grip. Even though it does release, it does so by vomiting, and we don't want the tick vomit getting under our or our dog's skin.
  4. Dispose of the tick: Place the tick in a container with rubbing alcohol to kill it. Do not crush the tick with your fingers! Flush it down the toilet. Better yet, put it in a bag and send it off for testing! You can talk to your vet or Google labs in your area that do this. 
  5. Clean the area: After removing the tick, clean the bite area with an alcohol wipe that you would find in a dog first aid kit and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  6. Monitor for symptoms: Monitor the bite site for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or irritation. If you notice any unusual symptoms, contact your healthcare provider or veterinarian.
Ticks grow in size as they feed, so be aware of how they may look in different stages so you know that it's a tick!
So, gear up, leash up, and embark on adventures safely, knowing you've taken the necessary safety precautions and are informed about ticks and their potential dangers!

Last but not least, there are many different types of ticks, but here are the three most common: