The Best Ways to Safely Handle Ticks When Hiking with Your Pet
Summer means hikes in the woods and fun outdoor activities, but it’s also a time when ticks are particularly active. Ticks can carry diseases like Lyme disease, so it’s important to take precautions against tick bites. Here are some tips for keeping you and your pet safe on hikes this summer.
#1: Administer year-round tick prevention to your pet
Nothing is more effective at keeping hungry ticks at bay than tick prevention. Whether you administer a topical solution to your pet’s skin or give them a flavored chew, you’re creating a shield against ticks and the diseases they carry.
#2: Keep your pet out of prime tick habitat when hiking
Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not fall from trees or jump great distances to latch onto you or your pet. Instead, they “quest” for their prey, meaning they climb up the stalks of tall grasses, weeds, and shrubs and stick their front legs out, waiting for a warm body to wander by and become a host. So, although your pooch would love to sniff around in the tall brush, keep them to closely trimmed trails or paved paths.
#3: Know how to remove ticks properly from your pet
If a tick latches onto your pet, know how to properly remove it to minimize infection transmission. Squeezing the tick’s body can cause it to “inject” disease pathogens into your pet, so use a pair of tweezers to gently grasp the tick’s head as close to your pet’s skin as possible, then pull straight back with steady pressure. Avoid twisting when pulling since this can cause the head to detach and remain in your pet’s skin. Monitor the area for inflammation and infection. If you feel you will be unable to completely remove the tick from your pet, you can also bring them in and have your veterinarian remove it.
#4: Protect your pet from Lyme disease with appropriate vaccination
In addition to protecting your pet from ticks with tick prevention, you also can safeguard them with a Lyme disease vaccine. By vaccinating your pet—dogs only—against Lyme disease, you can greatly decrease their chances of contracting this tick-borne illness and reduce the severity of signs if infection occurs.