The Truth About Tick Prevention for Dogs

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Removing ticks is essential for maintaining a healthy dog, but preventing tick bites in the first place is key.  Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know about tick prevention for dogs.

The first thing to remember about preventing ticks on dogs is that no solution is perfect. There are issues with all tick prevention products (as explained below), however; they all help in one way or another.

Tick and flea collars work on the principle that chemicals manufactured into the collar and released into the dog’s skin will kill ticks and fleas.  There are two problems here.

The first has to do with effectiveness.  The collars will only kill pests near the neck, where the collar is worn.  The rest of the body is wide open for infestation.  When unknowing dog owners put a tick collar on the dog, they may fail to spot ticks on the rest of the body, thinking the collar takes care of all that.  In this regard, tick collars do more harm than good because they give the dog owner the false sense that everything’s OK, so he doesn’t perform any of the normal checks for ticks.

The second issue is with the chemicals used on tick collars.  Called pyrethroids, these chemicals may once have been a very effective method of tick prevention for dogs but this is a class of insecticides that has been over-used by pet owners.  Therefore, ticks are often resistant to them, due to the over-use.  This is common with over-the-counter products in general.

Best to go with a vet’s supervision if you want to use insecticides as tick prevention in dogs.

The Problem with Spot Control Products

According to WebMD, the EPA is investigating the products made for tick prevention for dogs, where a spot treatment is applied between the shoulder blades.  Some dogs (and their owners) have adverse reactions to the chemicals used in them, so if you’re sensitive then use another method.

The Problem With Tick Dips

Same idea here: tick dips are meant to stay on your dog’s skin, not rinsed off.  If anyone in your household, including your dog, is sensitive then tick dips may not be for you.  Think of this: anywhere your dog sits in the house will have a tiny bit of dip residue on it left behind after he leaves.

The Problem With Tick Powders & Sprays

Tick powders and sprays also contain Pyrethroids or other active ingredients made to kill ticks on dogs.  Called acaricides, these chemicals either kill the tick on contact or become absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream, so if a tick does bite it becomes sick and dies.

Using powders and sprays as tick prevention for dogs means you’re risking spreading those chemicals to the rest of your family.  Cats are especially sensitive to chemicals, and even people can be sensitive.

Tick Shampoos

You could use a tick shampoo on your dog every 2 weeks during tick season, but you get the same chemical problems as with collars, sprays, and powders since the active ingredients are the same.

In addition, that much dog shampooing is a lot of work!

Spot Checking as Tick Prevention for Dogs

Checking the skin for ticks is probably the safest and most effective method of tick prevention for dogs.  Check after every outdoor session (and check yourself too, for that matter).  Here’s what to do:

  • check between his toes
  • check inside his ears
  • check in his armpits
  • check his whole back and stomach, close to the skin where the hair emerges from the skin
  • check on his neck too

Avoid Tick Habitats

The ultimate tick prevention for dogs is to avoid areas where there are ticks.  While this might be impossible in reality, there ways to at least minimize your dog’s exposure to ticks:

  1. don’t walk him in brushy, forested areas
  2. trim your lawn, bushes and trees
  3. if that doesn’t work, treat your lawn with granular treatments from a lawn care store or vet
  4. there are also sprays you can buy, but be careful since they are harmful to small animals
  5. in worst cases, call an exterminator
  6. some people even keep their dogs inside during tick season, or only allow short jaunts outdoors.  this seems kind of extreme and definitely lowers the quality of life of your dog

Your dog is an important part of your life- otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.  Careful grooming and checking for ticks is the number one method of tick prevention for dogs but if you use anything else, please consult your vet for the proper, safe products and their use.

According to everything we’ve found the dog tick tags are one of the most effective treatments. You can learn more here.

For more of spot treating of ticks you can check out tick spray. It’s not perfect, but it’s effective for spot use. You can find out more here.

If you want something that stays on your dog on a more permanent basis, check out dog tick collars. Again, not perfect… but effective in preventing ticks around the head and neck area specifically. Luckily that’s one of the most common places ticks bite dogs. Learn more about preventing ticks on dogs with a collar here.

And lastly, an often forgotten about tick prevention strategy is preventing ticks at home. An effective solution for this is tick carpet powder. Most homeowners underestimate the possibility of ticks living in the carpet. If you have an “outdoors” family, you can be sure you’re carrying ticks into the house. As a bonus many tick carpet powders are effective against fleas as well. Learn more here.

The Problem With Tick Collars

We strongly suggest you check out our complete tick removal guide. Properly removing a tick from a dog is critical, make sure you know the watch-outs.



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