Ticks are such aggravating little creatures, but far more significant than the nuisance factor is their ability to spread disease. Ticks that embed in a dog’s skin can spread a variety of serious and even life threatening infectious diseases including:
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Lyme disease (Borrelia)
Another problem ticks can cause is a rare neurological condition called “tick paralysis.” Lastly, ticks can produce inflammation and bacterial infection right at the site of the bite. Avoidance is the golden rule when it comes to keeping your dog free from tick-borne diseases. Here are some tips to achieve this.
Know which season is “tick season”
While ticks are prevalent throughout North America, and year-round tick prevention is recommended, the time of year they are most problematic differs from region to region. Ask your veterinarian when tick season occurs in your neck of the woods. This will be the time of year to be most vigilant with tick control measures.
Know the lay of the land
Ticks prefer areas with dense vegetation. Much of their time is spent on the ground, but they are skilled at crawling up to the tips of shrubs and grasses. This vantage point improves their ability to successfully leap onto an animal passing by. Best to avoid exposing your dog to such shrubby and grassy areas, particularly during peak tick season.
Use tick prevention products
There is an assortment of products on the market that prevent and/or kill ticks. Some tick collars work well, but are not a good choice for dogs who do a lot of swimming or those who have “mouthy play” with other dogs. Other tick-prevention options include monthly medication administered orally or applied topically.
Check your dog daily
Perform a “tick check” on your dog daily, particularly following outdoor jaunts. Getting rid of ticks before they’ve had a chance to embed eliminates the possibility of disease transmission. The ticks’ favorite places to attach are your dog’s neck, head and ears, so pay particularly close attention to these areas.