Although spring only recently sprung, ticks are already active. If you’re walking your dog in natural areas, ticks are waiting for you. They can’t jump, but position themselves at the end of grasses and shrubs to climb onto animals passing by, a tactic called “questing”. Don’t want to be part of their quest? Here are some tips on tick prevention for dogs.

Oral Medications

Monthly oral pet medications are available from your veterinarian that kill ticks once they come in contact with your dog’s blood, so the tick is killed shortly after it bites. There are even products available that can prevent both heartworm and ticks. Speak to your vet about which medication and dosage is appropriate for your dog.

Flea & Tick Repellants

There are many options for repelling ticks, such as flea & tick collars, sprays and spot-on medications (usually applied between the shoulder blades so that the dog can’t lick it off). Some of these products both kill and repel ticks.

Checking for Ticks

Whatever type of tick medication or repellant that you are using, it’s always a good idea to check for ticks, on your dog and yourself, after you’ve been outdoors. Ticks are very small before they feed, some the size of a sesame seed, and are easiest to see on dogs with light-colored fur and on people with light-colored clothing. So give yourself and your dog a good once-over when you come in from walks to remove ticks before they bite, and regularly check your dog’s body, using your hands, to feel for are any attached ticks.

Removing A Tick

Ticks that are attached to your dog should be removed carefully, using a tweezer, as close to the skin as you can grasp. Pull with steady even pressure. Don’t twist. Then clean the area with soap and water. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol or by flushing it down the toilet. If you dispose of it in the trash, put it in a sealed plastic bag wrapped with tape.

What Do I Use?

My dogs are on monthly oral flea and tick medication. I also use Wondericide, a plant-based liquid that comes in a spray and in wipes. Apply it before time outdoors and it both repels and kills ticks. You can even spray it in your outdoor spaces to repel ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and flies.

Additional Resources

Article by Tami Guy, MS, CPPS and owner of Creatures Pet Care of Kalamazoo.