It’s no fun having to remove ticks from your dog during the spring and summer months. Not only are these blood-suckers nasty to look at, all filled up with your pet’s hard won blood as they are, they are also notoriously difficult to dislodge, making it so you have to get up close and personal in order to assure success. Because left too long or not removed entirely, these buggers can cause some serious diseases. So, what can you do to keep your dog tick-free this season? Here are a few ideas to consider…
Topical Flea and Tick Preventatives: Using an over the counter spot-on medication that you purchase from your veterinarian, pet store, or online can be a very effective method for controlling both ticks and fleas. These medications are effective at keeping parasites at bay for up to a month. While these medications are great, you still need to be very careful about which one you use. Make sure you read all labels carefully, and if you have any doubts, be sure to get advice from your veterinarian before application.
Oral Medications: Pills that are given once a month are readily available for dogs. These medications can work to kill both ticks and immature fleas and will disrupt the life cycle of fleas. They are easy to give and you won’t have to be concerned about small children and cats coming into contact with dogs immediately after application, as you might with spot-on treatments.
Shampoos: Bathing your dog with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will generally kill ticks on contact. This can be an inexpensive (though labor-intensive) method of protecting your dog during the peak tick season. You will need to repeat the process more often, about every two weeks, as the effective ingredients won’t last as long as a spot-on or oral medication. Make sure you read all labels carefully, and if you have any doubts, be sure to get advice from your veterinarian before application.
Flea and Tick Collars: Collars that repel ticks are an additional preventive you can use, though they are mainly only useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks. The collar needs to make contact with your dog’s skin in order to transfer the chemicals onto the dog’s fur and skin. When putting this type of collar on your dog, you will need to make sure there is just enough room to fit two fingers under the collar when it’s around the dog’s neck. Watch for signs of discomfort (e.g., excessive scratching) in case an allergic reaction to the collar occurs. Make sure you read the labels carefully when choosing a collar.
Treat house and lawn: Keeping your lawn, bushes, and trees trimmed back will help reduce the population of fleas and ticks in your backyard. If there are fewer areas for these parasites to live and breed, there will be fewer of them to be concerned with. If you still have a problem, consider using one of the various household and yard sprays orgranular treatments that are available from your veterinarian, pet store, or local garden center. Just be careful when using these products, as they can be harmful to animals, fish, and humans. If you have a severe problem or you are concerned about the proper handling of these chemicals, you might want to consider hiring an exterminator to apply yard and area sprays to control the ticks and fleas.
Check your dogs: After a romp outside in areas where ticks could be lurking, be sure to carefully check your dog for ticks. Look between the toes, inside the ears, between the legs (in the "armpits"), and around the neck, deep in the fur. If you find any ticks before they have had a chance to attach and become engorged, you may have prevented serious illness for your pet. If you do find a tick attached to your dog, removal should be done immediately and carefully, making sure to get all parts of the tick’s body removed from the skin.
Keep dogs indoors: While you do have to take your dog outside a few times a day, it is probably not a good idea to allow him to stay outside for extended periods during the height of tick season. Preventing your dog from roaming through wooded areas where ticks are likely to be lying in wait is a very effective way of keeping your pet safe from exposure, but you will still have to check your dog over thoroughly, even after short walks through grass and brush. You may still have a few ticks wandering around your yard, but if you keep things tidy and use preventives for when your dog does go out and check your dog over for any rogue ticks that might have attached themselves, your dog should have minimal risk of becoming a meal for ticks this spring.
(Information provided by: www.petmd.com)
(Picture by: Bizzaro.com)
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