Tick Prevention for Dogs

Dog out hiking
Dog out hiking

Since Sequoia was a puppy, she’s been very prone to ticks. A month after I adopted her, I pulled 14 ticks off of her in one day. From there, I quickly learned how to prevent ticks and how to pull them out correctly.


Dogs can get tick-borne diseases just like humans can and unfortunately vaccines are not available for most of the diseases that dogs can get. Tickborne diseases may not appear for 7 to 21 days or longer after the tick bite, so watch your pup for changes in their behavior or appetite.


Below I go through the different products you can use for tick prevention on your pup and how they each work. Don’t be afraid to get outdoors because of ticks, just know how to protect yourself and your dog. I use tick and flea treatment on Sequoia year-round.


Make sure not to use anything that says “dogs only” on your cat and not to use something that says “cats only” on your dog. Although safe for dogs, it could be toxic to cats and vice versa. Ask your vet if you have any questions about which products to use on your pet.


1. It’s important that you pull them out as soon as possible to reduce the chances of getting a disease that they’re carrying. When removing a tick, don’t pop it while it’s still sucking or attached to your dog. They work like eye droppers, so everything that’s inside them will end up in your or your pet’s bloodstream.


2. Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.


3. Pull up with steady and even pressure. Don’t jerk or twist the tick. You want to make sure that the head and mouthparts come off too. If you’re unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let your skin heal.


4. Don’t crush the tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. My doctors have also recommended that after you kill the tick, to save it. Lyme disease symptoms can show up days if not weeks after the tick bite and it’s easier to test the dead tick for the disease than you.


5. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean your hands and the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

tick infographic


These are also known as spot on treatments and what I’ve previously used on Sequoia.


It’s a treatment you apply once per month to your pup’s skin and is absorbed into their bloodstream and protects them from ticks and fleas by repelling any new ones and killing any that are already on your pup.


Don’t wash your pup for a couple of days before and after applying this medication. The natural oils on the fur and skin help the medication absorb, washing your pup after applying will only wash the medication off. When picking medication, make sure to pick the right one depending on your dog’s weight.


To apply, put a few drops between the shoulder blades and above the tail where they can’t lick the medication.


Sequoia spends a lot of time outdoors and runs through brush and tall grasses often so she is constantly exposed to an environment that is very prone to ticks. In my experience with various medications and her lifestyle, topical treatments work the best.


I use Frontline Plus.


Typical ingredients in topical medication are:


Fipronil: This attacks the nervous system of the parasite to paralyze fleas and ticks to ultimately kill them. Fipronil spreads over the cat or dog through body oils in about a day. It releases over time — usually about a month.


Imidacloprid: This kills both adult and larval stage fleas that come in contact with your dog.


Pyrethroids: This is an organic compound derived from a flower, which makes it popular among pet owners who prefer all-natural products, though there are also synthetic pyrethroids that some manufacturers prefer because they are more stable and last longer. Pyrethroids are toxic to cats and should be used with caution on small dogs Don’t use this in households with cats as it is extremely toxic to them. Products with pyrethroids kill fleas, ticks, and mites.


This medication usually comes in the form of pills or a chewable and is ingested by your dog rather than applied to their skin. Typically these are given to your dog once per month and can work to prevent both ticks and fleas.


I recommend NexGard Chewables.


The most common active chemicals in oral treatment are:


Lufenuron: This does not kill adult fleas but instead harms the larvae so they don’t survive. This will not kill ticks.


Spinosad: This will kill adult fleas, but not ticks. Medication with this chemical is not recommended for dogs with epilepsy and cats cannot use medication with spinosad.


Nitenpyram: This is a fast-acting insecticide that kills adult fleas within 30 minutes. It has long-term effects so it shouldn’t be used as a long term solution. This chemical also kills ticks.


Collars are good as an additional preventive. Although not as effective as topical and oral medication, they mainly are useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks.


When putting on the collar, make sure it comes in contact with your pup’s skin to transfer the medication to their fur and skin. When putting on their collar, make sure there is just enough room to fit two fingers under the collar when it’s around your dog’s neck. Cut any excess length off.


Watch for signs of discomfort (e.g., excessive scratching) in case an allergic reaction to the collar occurs. Make sure you read the labels carefully when choosing a collar.


I recommend the Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar.


Washing your dog with a shampoo that contains active medication that will generally kill ticks and fleas on contact. It’s inexpensive compared to some of the other options, but it’s labor intensive since you’ll need to wash your dog more frequently to really protect them.


This treatment won’t be as effective and won’t last as long as the spot-on or oral medication.


I recommend Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo.


If you have a tick or flea infestation, sprays are a good option. You can spray them directly on your dog, bedding, pillows, carpets, rugs, coaches, etc.


If you have cats and dogs in your home, make sure that you use a spray that’s been approved for both.


For indoor use I recommend Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray.


For spraying down your hiking gear and clothing, I recommend Sawyer’s Premium Permethrin Repellent.


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check your pet for ticks graphic

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