In the fall, one of the most important things you can do to help keep your dogs healthy and happy is protect them from the harmful effects of ticks. Some varieties of ticks are seasonal, meaning that their eggs laid in the spring have matured into active adult ticks by fall. That’s why during the months of September through November, newly active adult ticks are on the lookout for host animals to help them survive the winter. Take these preventive measures now to decrease the likelihood of ticks affecting your pets.
Preventing Tick Bites
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to prevent ticks from biting or attaching to your dogs. The most common way to keep ticks at bay is by using a monthly-dose oral medication (such as Frontline®). In addition, local pet stores may carry tick-repelling pet shampoos, sprays, collars and powders. Be sure to ask your veterinarian which products are most suitable for your dogs.
Discouraging Tick Habitat
Another way to discourage ticks is to tick-proof your yard by using safe, non-chemical or EPA-registered tick repellants and pesticides applied by a professional. Additionally, you can discourage tick breeding and development in your yard by reducing or eliminating leaf litter, cutting down tall grass along perimeters and sidewalks, trimming low-hanging branches on trees, mowing regularly and using mulch or gravel to create barriers between wooded areas and lawns. As well, fences can help keep out wild animals that carry ticks, such as deer and raccoons. Finally, remove from your yard unused items that ticks can hide in, such as old lawn furniture.
Checking for Ticks
After spending time outdoors – and before bringing your dogs indoors – check them regularly for ticks. Carefully inspect for ticks in these seven places on your pet: between their toes, under their front legs, between their back legs, in the tail area, beneath their collar, around their eyes and eyelids, and around and inside their ears.
If ticks are found on your pooch, remove them right away! They hide in hair and lie close to the skin. Use tweezers to remove a tick by pulling straight upward. Be sure the tick’s mouth parts don’t remain in or on the skin. You may need a magnifying glass to inspect. After removal, wash the bite area and your hands using soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Discard the tick by flushing it down a toilet or sealing it in a plastic bag for disposal.
During tick season, you can always keep your dogs indoors more than usual. Do this by managing their outdoor time. Plan walks and supervised play time in open, well-maintained areas, and keep them from roaming into wooded or unmaintained areas where ticks may live.
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