My partner has a dog who loves coming on hikes with us and will often run off exploring in the bushes if we let him.
If you're an avid hiker like me then you'll know that a common threat to dogs when hiking is ticks.
Ticks are mean little parasites that will latch onto our furry pals in order to feed on blood, and they are known to transmit several diseases which can make your dog sick, including Lyme disease.
But how exactly do you keep ticks off your dog when hiking so you can keep your furry pal (and yourself and your car) safe from ticks?
The best ways to keep ticks off dogs while hiking include:
- Treat your dog with specialized tick medication (consult with your vet) and use topical repellents.
- Use a tick prevention collar or spray your dog’s collar/leash with tick repellent such as permethrin – but always follow instructions exactly as permethrin can be dangerous for dogs if not used properly.
- Avoid tick-infested areas like tall grass and brush and be sure to frequently check your dog for ticks and remove ticks quickly once spotted.
The average dog tick can lay up to 6500 eggs (gross), so it’s definitely important to take some precautions if you plan on bringing your dog on adventures.
It may not be possible to avoid tick bites 100% but there are definitely some things you can to do minimize the chances of ticks on your pet and to deal with them quickly so your dog is less likely to get sick.
Ticks start to come out more when it’s warm and they love shady and moist spots like tall blades of grass or brush, which means it’s possible they can be pretty much anywhere that you’re camping or hiking.
There are several misconceptions when it comes to tick prevention and I’ve seen a number of places suggest methods that honestly don’t work well at all for dogs (such as apple cider vinegar), so keep reading to learn how to effectively protect your precious pets from these nasty creatures.
Please note: None of these methods have a 100% guarantee of success. When I'm out hiking (with or without a dog) I'll always bring a tick kit or some narrow tipped tweezer with me.
While taking steps to avoid ticks is a good idea, being able to remove them instantly in the unfortunate event of a tick bite is better than having to wait until you get home or trying to do a makeshift removal.
I suggest this tick removal kit from Amazon which is affordable and effective and works for animals and humans or check out this tick remover specifically designed for dogs.
Specially designed to remove the entire tick- head and all. Designed to help you get your furry buddy tick-free impressively fast. Just latch, twist and pull. It’s that easy.
Not just a tick removal tool for dogs and cats, you can use it as a tick remover for kids and adults too.
1. Get a Tick Prevention Collar for Your Dog
The Seresto collar is by far one of the most popular go-tos for instant tick protection.
These collars can be found at most pet stores and at the vet, and you can even grab one through Amazon which is nice because no vet visit is required.
Long-lasting flea collar kills & repels fleas for 8 continuous months. Hassle-free, non-greasy, easy-to-use flea & tick protection
They take around 24 hours to start working which means ideally you want to put it on your dog the day before you plan on going on your hike.
It's extremely important that you get an authentic Seresto collar and not a fake. If you find one online and the price seems too good to be true it probably is.
I have however seen complaints about counterfeit collars going around (how messed up is that), and they can apparently make your pets sick, so be careful which supplier you get your pet products from.
Seresto recommends checking the packaging and ensuring that the collar does not have a greasy feel or odor, as this can indicate a counterfeit collar. You can also check out my article on how to know if your Seresto collar is real to check any collars you may have.
The Seresto collar works by releasing tick-repellent ingredients slowly onto your dog's coat over an 8-month period, providing 24-hour protection against ticks.
Your dog can safely wear the Seresto collar year-round and it stays effective for up to 9 months (it’s also waterproof), which is nice because you won’t have to constantly worry about treating your furry friend for ticks.
Out of all the topical treatments, medications, and sprays, I’ve seen people swear up and down that prevention collars work the best and most instantaneously, so they’re definitely worth giving a shot.
I have a Bernese Mountain dog who used to get inundated with ticks when we would visit family in California. We tried everything, and ultimately Seresto is the only thing that actually worked. The ticks just don't attach, and on the off chance that they do, they die long before they have a chance to get embedded. Definitely worth a try if you're thinking about it!Source: Reddit
Seresto collar, hands down. My dogs and cats wear them year-round and the collars last ~9 months. They start working almost immediately. Any pet supply store will carry them, your vet probably does too (and the vet may have a mail in rebate slip for you too).Reddit: bookwormdesigner
2. Use Specialized Tick Treatment and Medication for Dogs
One of the most effective and studied methods for protecting your dogs from ticks is chewable medication and other treatments.
Frontline Plus is one of the most popular and proven non-prescription tick treatments for dogs. Frontline is a topical treatment applied to your dog's skin that will protect for up to thirty days, and it’s one of the more guaranteed ways to protect your dog from tick bites.
A fast-acting, waterproof flea & tick topical that's proven to kill fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, chewing lice, and ticks that can transmit Lyme disease. Keep your dog protected from fleas & ticks all month long
While FrontLine Plus and similar brands are applied topically to your dog you can also get chewable treatments that can protect your dog from ticks for 1-3 months.
Bravecto and NexGuard are also popular brands for tick treatment, but you may want to consult your vet if it’s your first time searching for proper tick medication for your dog, as some are better fit for different sizes and breeds.
Sometimes these medications are also vet only medications and you'll need a prescription from your vet in order to get access to them. However, they seem to be incredibly effective and many people swear by them as one of, if not the best, option out there for tick prevention.
I live in prime tick country (and have ticks all over my property – fun times lol). In my experience, the best prevention is a chewable tablet as others have suggested, and check your dog over for ticks after your hike. I have my dog on Bravecto and check her over after our walks and just before she comes inside.Reddit: Holly185
Medicines like Bravecto contain active ingredients (in the case of Bravecto it's fluralaner) which act as an ectoparasiticide. It causes paralysis and death in ticks that attach themselves to your dog.
It can start to kill ticks within 2 hours and has 100% efficacy in 12 hours. It also works against fleas and some other parasites.
It’s important to remember that ticks can still attach even if your dog takes preventative medication, so you should still check your dogs for ticks after hikes and remove any on your dog or attached to your dog.
3. Avoid Tick-Infested Areas (Stay on Paths)
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you should try your best to not let your companion wander while hiking any trails or woods. Keep your dog on a leash and out of any tall brush and grass where ticks can hop onto their coat and latch on.
I know not everyone sticks to the well-traveled paths (myself included), so if you’re exploring a more rugged area where ticks are more likely to be, make sure to utilize all the preventative measures you can, and check your dog frequently.
Many people think ticks are only found in the woods during the warmer months, but they are still a danger to your pets in the wintertime and can even be found at the beach.
4. Use Tick Repellent Sprays
Ticks repellent sprays are one of the most effective ways we humans protect ourselves from ticks, so naturally they can work well to protect our dogs as well.
Permethrin is the most popular ingredient for tick sprays and applying a product such as the Sawyer Permethrin Spray can protect your dog from ticks for up to 35 days.
Add a layer of protection to your clothing and gear with Permethrin insect and tick repellent spray. Permethrin spray bonds to fabric fibers for up to 6 weeks or through 6 washings (whichever comes first) and won't stain or damage clothing, fabrics, plastics, finished surfaces, or outdoor gear; odorless after drying.
The company says the spray is safe to apply to a dog’s coat, however, Permethrin is toxic before drying and is especially dangerous to cats, so I would recommend consulting your veterinarian before using it as a topical treatment.
If you want to be on the safe side, apply it to your pet’s collar and leash and let it dry before using.
There are also natural products such as Cedarwood oil that work very well to prevent ticks while being completely safe for pets and kids. These products use natural deterrents and no dangerous chemicals.
Non toxic and family safe bug spray made from cedarwood oil. Can help to kill and repel unwanted pests.
5. Frequently Check Your Dog for Ticks and Remove Ticks Immediately
If you’re a big hiker like me and love to take your dog along on the adventure, be sure to always check your pal for any ticks under their fur.
If you do a quick check whenever you stop for water or brush your dog’s fur, it can go a long way in keeping your dog safe from bacteria and diseases that ticks can transmit.
No matter what methods you use, it’s always a possibility for a tick to find its way onto your dog's skin (they’re stubborn little things), and if you find one you should dispose of it in the same way you would for a human.
Grab a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and grab the tick as close to your dog's skin as possible. Gently pull upwards without twisting or jerking, as this could cause part of the tick’s mouth to break off in your dog’s skin.
You can dispose of any tick you remove by flushing it down the toilet or by dropping it in a solution such as rubbing alcohol or bleach.
If your dog never leaves your side, you might find it useful to pick up a Tick Removal Tool for Dogs. This tool makes it super quick and easy to remove any ticks on the spot, and it’s small enough to carry around with you on hikes and trips.
You can see below just how easy the tool is to use and how well it removes ticks from dogs.