With the warm temperatures we’re now experiencing in South Carolina, there’s a higher likelihood of getting tick bites. But some pet parents may think they’re dogs aren’t in danger – because they live inside or rarely leave the city. But even the most “city dog” goes in the grass sometimes – meaning the dog is at risk to bring in pests on his coat – and into your house. Dogs are like sentinels: they’re the first to pick up ticks. They then bring the ticks into your house, potentially putting your family at danger of being bitten. So it’s important to take the time to learn about the tick risk for your dog and for your family.
Where do ticks live?
Ticks live in grassy areas and woodlands – which includes overgrown yards, hiking trails, piles of leaves, and anywhere the grass grows tall. But they also like the “edge,” where taller grasses and woody areas meet yards or trails. Ticks also bite and live on mice, rats, and deer, so anything that attracts rodents – like overturned trash, pet food, or a warm, safe place to live (like stone walls or wood piles) – can attract rodents and their tick passengers.
How can my dog get ticks?
Ticks hold onto grasses, stems or branches and then jump onto hosts – like dogs or people – who walk through or by them. Dogs who go on hikes, explore open fields, or walk through woods are all at risk for gaining these unwanted passengers. But dogs who stay in a yard that has nearby tall grasses, or dogs who have a stone wall or pile of wood on their property, can also be a risk. And if your home has visiting rats or mice, they could carry ticks that will jump to your dog.
While dogs who live in rural areas are most at risk, we suspect that even the most low-key, inside-based city dog goes on a few outdoor walks near tick-prone areas, so it’s important that all dogs take preventative measures against ticks.
What can ticks do?
Tick bites can range from uncomfortable to deadly. Some ticks carry Lyme disease (read more about Lyme on our blog), others carry fevers (e.g., Rocky Mountain spotted fever), others lead to bacterial infections (e.g., ehrlichiosis). Though some tick bites may just leave a painful bump, since others can lead to life-threatening diseases, it’s important to prevent all bites.
How can I keep my dog safe from ticks?
Prevention is key for all dogs to avoid ticks. While lots of advice about prevention is out there, the most reliable way to prevent ticks is through medication. Animal Clinic of Woodruff offers Bravecto and Nexgard for tick prevention and control. We also recommend and offer vaccinations against Lyme disease.
Whether your dog is using prevention or not, it’s a good idea to check for ticks anytime your dog has been outside in tick-prone areas. Ticks love to hide in a few key areas, so be sure to search: inside the ears, between toes, around genitals and under tail, around eyes, all over the belly and around the neck and collar area. Use your fingers to shift through hair, or use a comb for dogs with longer hair. Remove ticks with fine-point tweezers, pulling straight up to remove all parts of the tick from the skin. Wash your hands and the dog’s skin after removal.
If you’d like to start veterinarian-recommended tick prevention, or have questions about your dog’s risk, please contact the vets at Animal Clinic of Woodruff today.