You may think you need to worry about your dog getting ticks only if you live in a heavily wooded area. After all, ticks are usually found in the woods, right? While that is true, tick populations are growing and spreading around the world as the climate gets warmer, and they can be found pretty much anywhere, including your backyard. In addition, your indoor-only house cat, who may never venture so much as a whisker outdoors, is at risk. Ticks are opportunistic pests that can hitch a ride on your pant leg, travel inside, and attack your pets.
While not all tick species transmit serious illnesses to pets or people, a good many of them do, so protecting your pet—and yourself—from ticks in general is important. Here are five tips to prevent ticks from making a meal of your four-legged friend.
#1: Administer quality tick prevention to your pet year-round
Although the Canada winters can be downright frigid, ticks can come out of hiding if the temperature rises above freezing. So, while you are out and about enjoying those rare January balmy days, so are ticks, making a year-round quality tick preventive crucial for every household pet. Since ticks can come into your home, whether on your pants, shoes, or your dog, your indoor cat also needs protection. Fortunately, a multitude of excellent tick prevention options are available to keep your entire family safe.
Tick preventives come in various forms, including:
- Oral medications — For the pooch who eagerly wolfs down medications like treats, tablets or tasty chews are the best tick prevention option. These products typically last one or three months.
- Topical medications — Liquid topical applications are best for more discerning pets who can sniff out medication—despite being covered in peanut butter and wrapped in cheese—a mile away. Few cats accept oral medications, but will tolerate topical tick preventives. These topical preventives also come in one- or three-month options.
Preventive products often not only protect your pet against ticks, but also against fleas, heartworms, and intestinal parasites. The convenience of these all-in-one products make giving your pet quality year-round parasite prevention a cinch.
#2: Keep your pet out of tall grass and brush
While ticks like the shady, moist areas in wooded locations, they can also be found in areas with tall grass, brush, and piles of leaves. When walking with your four-legged companion, stick to hiking trails that are clear of brush, or paved sidewalks. Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not fall from trees, but rather climb up grass and shrubs to latch onto an unsuspecting victim, which makes keeping your pet out of tall plants essential for preventing tick-borne illnesses.
#3: Use landscaping to deter ticks
By keeping up with your yard work, you can ensure the yard is inhospitable to ticks, as well as the wildlife that are part of a tick’s life cycle. Pick up leaf litter, trim bushes, and keep grass cut short to keep out ticks, rodents, raccoons, and possums. In addition, you can cultivate plants and shrubs, such as lavender, rosemary, mint, and rue, that act as natural tick repellents.
#4: Regularly groom your pet
Groom your pet regularly, and thoroughly check them for external parasites like fleas and ticks. While you should always give your pet a once-over after coming indoors during the height of tick season, a thorough grooming ensures you reach those often-overlooked spots, like inside the ears, in the armpits, in the groin area, under the tail, and between the toes. Feed your pet treats and kibble from their next meal while you groom them, to keep the experience Fear Free™.
#5: Dress for success when outside with your pet
Since ticks can hitch a ride on you, and then clamber over to your pet for a warm meal, protect yourself from these pesky bloodsuckers. Wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, tall socks, and a hat whenever you are outside in tick habitats. Tuck your pant legs into your socks to prevent low-lying ticks hopping on board and climbing up for a meal. Additionally, wear light-colored clothing, so you can easily spot ticks that do get on your clothes. You can also use a tick repellent that contains DEET, permethrin, or picaridin on yourself, but never on your pet, as they can be toxic to pets.
Do you need advice about the best tick prevention product for your pet? Contact our Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital team for help.