Taking your dog on hikes, especially in the woody and grassy areas will inevitably increase the possibility of ticks and other parasites attacking him. These tiny bloodsuckers, or more academically, hematophagous animals belong to the wider family of spiders, and they are as dangerous to our fury friends as they are to us.
In this article you will get to know about several different ways of preventing ticks attacking your dog while hiking, and how to use different types of repellents. Moreover, you will learn how to remove a tick if your dog gets attacked by one.
A few types of ticks - in North America namely the black-legged, or deer tick and the western black-legged tick - can carry the bacteria (only if the ticks themselves are also infected!) which is responsible for Lyme disease, and unfortunately, dogs are no exceptions when it comes to possible victims of the disease.
The first symptoms of the illness only appear after weeks, or in some cases after months. Symptoms might include constant tiredness and even limping. If you recognize something is off, do not hesitate to contact the local veterinarian.
However, preventing unwanted attacks from ticks and other parasites is a lot easier than dealing with them. Nowadays there are a wide variety of products and techniques for this purpose, let’s take a look at some!
As funny as it sounds, smelling nice is one of the most effective natural ways to avoid parasites. Ticks, fleas and generally speaking all parasites can’t stand certain smells, for example, citronella, peppermint, citrus, lavender, and lemongrass, therefore it is self-explanatory that having one of the above-mentioned smells is a powerful repellent.
Do you also apply a strong-smelling tick repellent on your skin before heading into the forest, right? One solution, if you have a short-haired dog, is to simply use a similar repellent on your dog that you are going to use on yourself.
Moving on, possibly the most widely used method to prevent parasites from harming our beloved dogs is the ultrasonic flea and tick repellent. The raindrop-shaped little fobs are incredibly easy to apply because it is not only possible but also recommended to put them on the dog collars. You should not be afraid of this device, because the emitted ultrasonic pulses are imperceptible and harmless for humans and pets, however, they are significant enough to disturb ticks and other parasites, thus creating a safe environment for your dog while hiking.
Another advantage of ultrasonic repellents is - assuming all nature-lovers actively care about the well-being of the backcountry – that they do not contain any chemical elements, making them environmentally friendly.
An important note is that the period while these devices are effective might differ from product to product, the typical time range being anytime between 6 and 12 months.
My personal favorites are, however, the special tick repellent shampoos. Since they must be applied directly to the fur and gently massaged down the skin, this preventing solution works most efficiently for short-haired dogs, because the larger the fur the more difficult it is to cover the skin with shampoo, which decreases the efficiency.
A great advantage of such products is that the shampoos are waterless, meaning that you do not need to waste your precious water while hiking to keep your dog safe from parasites.
It goes without saying that regardless of the efficiency of the above-mentioned methods, no product or technique can 100% guarantee that no ticks, fleas, or other parasites will attack your pet. Therefore, you not only need to take preventive actions but be able to comfort your dog and possibly remove the tick.
Ticks are extremely tiny when they first get on the skin, however, the more blood they suck the larger and more visible they become. Although it is difficult to notice one when it is small, you don’t want to wait until they grow larger, because with an early removal you can minimize the chances of your dog getting infected by Lyme disease or other illnesses.
Petting the dog is perhaps the easiest and quickest way to observe a tick, however, if your dog is a medium or long-haired breed you need to massage them deep under their fur so that you reach the skin and notice the parasites. Do not forget to also check the paws, between the fingers because oftentimes ticks get attached to that part of the body and many people don’t even think about checking it.
If you have found a little bump on the skin, take a closer look to decide whether it is a tick to remove or something else altogether. Ticks, due to belonging to the family of spiders, have 8 legs that can be brown or black.
When you have made sure that you have found a tick to remove, you can either use a simple clean tweezer or a special tick remover, both work with the same method. Open the tweezer part of your device and try to grab the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, without grabbing into the skin. Once you have grabbed the tick, start pulling it out slowly and smoothly in order not to leave any parts behind, because surprisingly and unfortunately even a head without the body can cause an infection.
After you have successfully removed the parasite from your pet, check regularly on the area where the tick was located, if the skin remains irritated or infected or he starts showing symptoms of tiredness, fever, lameness, or swollen joints, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.
With the right products and prevention techniques your dog will be safe on hiking and camping, try out different methods and see what is best for yourself. An important note is that when you are hiking for a longer period, checking your dog daily for possible ticks and parasites must be a major responsibility of yours because some ticks can infect dogs with Lyme disease even within the first 24 hours.
However, if the preventing methods fail, do not panic because removing a tick is really not that difficult and it can be done safely wherever you are.