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 enhances their ability to successfully leap onto an animal passing by. Best to avoid exposing your dog/cats to such shrubby and grassy areas, particularly during peak tick season.
There are a variety 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 (chemicals within the collar might be ingested by your dog’s playmate).
Other tick-prevention options include monthly medication administered orally or applied topically (to the skin). There are a variety of products to choose from and most are combined with flea prevention medication. Speak with your veterinarian about which tick prevention products make the most sense for your dog.
carry out a “tick check” on your dog daily, particularly following outdoor excursions. Getting rid of the little buggers 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.
Sounds gross, I know, but saving the ticks you remove just might prove to be useful. Different species of ticks transmit different diseases. Given that symptoms of the various tick-borne diseases overlap, having knowledge of the type of tick your dog was exposed to may help your veterinarian hone in on a diagnosis more expediently.
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Remove embedded ticks promptly and properly
Do your best to remove any embedded ticks as soon as possible. Less time spent attached to your dog lessens the odds of disease transmission.
You’ll find dozens of recommendations online describing how to remove an embedded tick. Be wary of what you read. Burning a tick with a hot match is not effective, and you risk singeing your dog’s hair coat. Coating the tick with Vaseline® or some other type of lubricant does nothing but render the tick slippery and more difficult to remove. And acetone, such as the chemical found in nail polish removers, causes the tick to become brittle and more likely to shatter during the removal process.
Talk with your veterinarian about preferred methods for removing embedded ticks. Whichever method you choose, be sure to wear gloves so as to eliminate any risk of disease transmission for yourself.
Know the symptoms and seek early veterinary intervention
Remember that the majority of dogs exposed to ticks never develop a tick-borne disease. But for those who do, early recognition of symptoms, quickly arriving at a diagnosis, and prompt treatment by your veterinarian enhance the likelihood of a positive outcome. If your dog has tick exposure, talk with your veterinarian about what symptoms you should be on the lookout for.