Sometimes it seems like there are a million things your dog can get into that can hurt him. Your backyard carries all kinds of risks, and ticks are a big one. Keeping ticks off your dog and out of your home is something you will need to keep up with. It isn’t a war you win, but a battle you fight continuously.
There are several different methods to protect your dog, and while you may find one (or more) that work best for your pooch, you will find a list of your options for tick prevention below.
1. Natural Prevention
If you’re interested in the fully natural approach, there are plenty of natural tick prevention solutions. Garlic and apple cider vinegar can be added to your dog’s diet to make their blood less appealing. This way if a tick gets on your dog’s fur, the smell will repel some of the blood suckers. Lavender, citrus, and cinnamon are natural scents that are particularly unappealing to ticks, so you may want to try applying those to your pup’s fur.
You could also pop a few ultrasonic pest repellents in your yard. While they’re mostly meant for mosquitoes, they do advertise they will repel fleas and ticks, too; so it may be worth trying.
2. Topical Treatments
Topical treatments, like Advantix, are liquids or gels that you traditionally place along your dog’s spine and let it absorb into his skin. You will need to make sure your dog doesn’t bother with it once you’ve applied the treatment, and your dog’s skin may be noticeably oily for a few days after treatment. You may want to invest in a doggie t-shirt to protect him or your other pets from bothering or ingesting it.
There are also sprays that you can purchase that will get rid of any ticks that are on your dog and act as a repellent for any ticks heading your dog’s way. You’ll want to follow the directions of each specific spray, but the general idea is to cover your pup (but not soak him) with the spray; use a cotton ball to apply around his eyes and ears. And make sure you’re always spraying these chemicals outside or in a well-ventilated area.
3. Oral Medications
You may have seen the oral medications available at your veterinarian’s office as an alternative to the topical tick prevention solutions. This may be the most convenient option, since you don’t need to apply this treatment topically or ensure that your other pets don’t ingest the topical solution in the few days after application.
These pills may also once a month treatments, like the topical treatments, although some last for three or six months. The oral medications do tend to be a bit pricier, especially since they are only available through veterinarians.
4. Shampoos and Dips
Probably the least expensive method of prevention is regularly bathing your dog. You can use a regular soap you already have and just rely on the act of washing and rinsing to rid him of any ticks in his fur. Or you can take the opportunity to buy a tick-specific shampoo that will both wash away the ticks on him, and also prevent others from attaching to him.
A dip is a concentrated formula that you’ll need to dilute in water and either apply with a sponge or slowly pour over his back. Dips are a leave-in treatment, meaning you don’t rinse it off. However, you do need to be careful that your pup is not licking or playing with your children after a dip.
If dips might be an issue for your dog, there are also plenty of good tick spray options.
Along with dips and shampoos comes checking your dog regularly, particularly if you live in a region with a prolific tick population. By examining your dog carefully after time spent outdoors in grassy or wooded areas, you can remove ticks promptly and mitigate the risks associated with tick bites.
5. Treating Your House and Lawn
In case you needed another reason to keep up with your lawn maintenance, ticks will definitely give you one. Ticks flourish in overgrown or wooded areas. If you live in a wooded area, there may not be much you can do, but keeping your hedges trimmed back and your grass from overgrowing will still help you keep the ticks at bay.
There are also poisons you can buy for your yard. You can call an exterminator if they get too bad in your yard or, worse yet, your house. But if you’re interested in treating your home on your own, there are chemicals you can buy to do it yourself.
6. Tick Removal
If all the above prevention methods fail you, and a tick sneaks though to bite your dog, you’ll need to use appropriate tick removal techniques. Just pulling it off will very likely end with the head of the tick remaining and you pulling off just the tick’s body. If this happens, you’ll need to dig out the head or your dog can develop an infection. Not to mention the risk of the blood the tick has consumed spraying over you and your dog. Use a tick-removal tool to ensure that you’ve securely grasped the tick’s head and remove it safely and completely.
While prevention is always the ideal, you’ll still want to look into whether deer ticks and Lyme disease are prevalent in your area. If so, you should talk to your vet about getting your dog a Lyme vaccination. Even if it isn’t likely the tick makes it through all your lines of defense against it, the risk is just too great for your precious puppy.