How To Keep Ticks Off Dogs While Camping and Hiking

how to keep ticks off dogs
Image Credit: Patrick Hendry

Almost all of our canine friends love the great outdoors. Whether it’s playing in Autumn leaves, summer beach trips, or weekend hikes in the mountains, your dog will be right by your side to enjoy the adventure.

But you should always take steps to prepare them for whatever journey awaits. That might be buying them doggie boots, outfitting them with a cooling vest, or protecting them from ticks.

Just as you would take steps to protect yourself against ticks, mosquitos, and other pests while camping or hiking, you need to take measures to safeguard your dog, too. Thankfully there are quite a few easily-accessible tick repellents and tick preventatives out there for all kinds of canines.

Why Tick Prevention Is Important

Ticks are not only a nuisance, but can also transmit Lyme Disease and other serious illnesses to both dogs and people.

Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States. Symptoms can include fever, swollen joints, fatigue, and more. If left untreated, it can lead to long-term health problems.

Dogs might have Lyme disease and you would be none the wiser. Symptoms only present themselves in 5-10% of infected dogs, but even then you don’t want to run the risk of exposing your pet.

But Lyme Disease isn’t the only transmittable disease you should be concerned with. Other tick-borne diseases that your dog might contract include:

  • Canine Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasma
  • Hepatozoonosis
  • Bartonella

We don’t have to go into detail about all the symptoms, just know that none of these are fun for your dog, or for you. By taking precautionary measures, you can prevent these pesky diseases and keep your dog safe for years to come.

As it stands, there are three tiers of tick prevention in dogs:

Natural Tick Repellents For Dogs

First, there are natural tick repellents that you can put on your pet. These include the following:

  • Citronella essential oil
  • Apple cider vinegar (This is a great option for dogs with sensitive skin)
  • Lemon eucalyptus oil
  • Tumeric oil
  • Geranium oil

All of these natural tick repellents have been used for hundreds of years because they’re proven to work.

You can find a few products out there with these natural ingredients, and they usually come in spray bottles or little dropper bottles.

Bonus Content: Here’s a cool dog camping gear article I found online.

We advise mixing up a solution of essential oil and water in a spray bottle and applying it liberally to your dog’s pelt before you venture into the great outdoors. Just make sure to avoid their eyes and mouth!

Medical Tick Treatments for Dogs

The second level of tick prevention is medical. If your dog is sick, or if you simply don’t want to bother with natural repellents, there are topical medications that you can give your pup before a big hike.

These medications come in the form of a spot-on treatment and protect against all kinds of bugs for between one and three months.

Some of the common brands are:

  • Frontline
  • Advantage
  • K9 Advantix II

All of these products work in a similar way, by attacking the nervous system of the tick and killing it before it can bite your dog.

These treatments are often pricier than natural remedies, but they are more effective at preventing ticks, fleas, lice, and other pests.

You can purchase these treatments online, at pet/feed stores, or have them prescribed by your vet.

Physical Tick Prevention

This last method of prevention should be done in tandem with one of the above methods. It doesn’t use any chemicals and is pretty much a common practice.

After you take your dog on a hike, walk in the woods, or a day by the river, make sure to physically check them for ticks.

Sometimes, ticks will hitch a ride on the dog’s pelt and slowly make their way to their favorite spots to set up shop.

When checking your dog for ticks, you should always look in discreet areas where the dog is the warmest. Just like when you check yourself for ticks, check your dog’s:

  • Groin
  • Behind the ears
  • Around the neck (look under their collar)
  • The base of their tail
  • Between their toes
  • Under their front legs, in the armpit area

You should also give your dog a bath after each time they may have been exposed to ticks. Use a dog-safe shampoo or dish soap like dawn to lather them up and rinse them with warm water. This will help dislodge any ticks lingering in their fur.

Removing Ticks

If you find a tick that has already bitten into your dog, take a pair of tweezers and gently grasp the head of the tick. If you grab their abdomen and apply too much pressure, they’ll dislodge their head in the dog’s skin and cause problems down the line.

So always make sure you grab their head and pull the tick straight out. Don’t wiggle it or try to take it out with your fingers. Pull it out slowly, and make sure that once the tick is out, you check to see if it still has its mandibles. If it doesn’t, chances are that they’re still in your dog’s skin, and you should take your dog to the vet.

After you’ve removed the tick, take some 3% hydrogen peroxide and gently sterilize the area. Direct contact with a tick’s fluids can transmit diseases, so disinfecting the area is crucial.

Ticks are fairly common for dogs, so don’t stress out too much. Just remember that prevention is key, and your dog happens to get a tick, keep an eye on them. If they start acting lethargic or seem achy, you should visit your vet.

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