How to Keep your Dog Tick Free While Camping
These days, many of us are taking more trips into the outdoors. With a worldwide pandemic in effect, the healing power of nature is more valuable than ever. Similarly, our furry friends are taking on an even more important role in our lives. Dogs and new foster pets are helping millions of people as we get through a difficult time together.
For the adventurous, it's the perfect time to head out for a camping trip. In the quiet and solitude of nature, our beloved dogs and we can have a fantastic and healing time. However, it pays to take extra precautions to guard your dog's health out there in the great outdoors.
Entering the Tick's Natural Habitat
As you head into nature, you're entering the natural habitat of everything that walks, crawls, and flies. Unfortunately, the ticks are out there waiting for everything that moves. The SPCA notes there are over 850 species of ticks, a parasitic arachnid related to spiders and scorpions. Unfortunately, around 90 of them live in the United States.
Every year, it seems ticks become more problematic, transmitting:
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Alpha-gal, and more
The deer tick that spreads Lyme disease are tiny and spread throughout the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States. Worse, many species, including a new one called the Asian longhorn tick, are spreading across the country. Immature nymphs are less than 2mm in size, so it's hard to spot them, much less on a shaggy dog.
According to the CDC, there isn't evidence that pets can spread Lyme disease to humans, However, when you remove ticks, it's best to avoid touching them or squashing them to prevent possible contamination. Also, be sure to kill any tick that is removed, or it could come back to bite you.
Keeping Your Dog Tick Free While Camping
So, how to keep your dog tick-free while camping? Although you can't prevent all ticks, you can do a great job of preventing them. Then, if you do find one or more on your dog, it's key to know what to do.
A Warning About Pyrethroids
First, always remember that any tick treatments for dogs may never be used on cats and vice versa. These treatments can be deadly if used in the wrong way. Plus, it's essential to avoid certain medications for dogs if you have cats at home. Similarly, it's not a good idea to use tick repellents for humans on dogs or vice versa. As always, it's best to ask your veterinarian for their advice on the best products to use.
For example, the topical medication made from Pyrethroids found in chrysanthemum flowers is toxic to cats, but effective as a preventative for larger dogs while camping. Fish are even more sensitive to this natural insecticide. Keep in mind, pyrethrins and pyrethroids are found in some tick shampoos. So never use it on dogs that will later be near felines or near a goldfish pond.
Also, never use the insect-repellent DEET on dogs.
Pack a First Aid Kit for Your Dog
Before going camping, you can help prevent ticks by giving your pet their usual oral medication a spot-on treatment, or a tick collar. The SPCA does not recommend dip treatments or tick powders.
As you head into the outdoors, you can pack a First Aid Kit to help keep your dog tick-free while camping. Or, you can buy one made for dogs.
Here are some items to consider for a dog's First Aid kit, some of which you can use too:
- Saline solution
- Duct tape
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antibiotic ointment
- Multi-tool with tweezers
- Tick removal tool
- Blood clotting powder
- Cotton swabs
You may be wondering about the duct tape, but the tape is a great way to trap a removed tick. Then, you can wrap it up and safely throw it in the garbage.
Tick Collar and Topical Spray for Dogs
Two preventative measures that may help are buying a tick collar for your dog and bringing along the topical spray for dogs that your vet recommends. These are easy to manage on a camping trip and could help.
Another way to prevent ticks is to keep your dog out of the thick grasses and brush where ticks live. (Not to mention yourself) Unfortunately, you might need to leash Fido because we all know these dense vegetated areas seem to be a magnet for many dogs.
What if You Spot a Tick?
Ticks love to hang out where it's warmest, so look for them regularly around your dog's eyes, the hindquarters, the ears, the groin, and even between toes. If you find one, use tweezers to get as close to the head as possible, then lift straight up and out firmly.
Try not to leave the tick's head attached, but don't twist the tweezers to try to get it loose. If the head remains, don't try to dig it out as it will come out on its own in a few days.
With the tick removed, it's necessary to kill it. Otherwise, it could come right back and bite you or your dog again. Easy methods are dropping it in some rubbing alcohol or wrapping it in tape. Dispose of the tick in the trash. Or, save it to take to your veterinarian for testing later. Then, if your dog shows any unusual symptoms, take it to the vet as soon as possible.
Finally, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol, soap, water, or iodine. Then, keep an eye out for any infection and do check yourself for ticks. If there is one tick, chances are there are more crawling nearby.
For more, visit the SPCA's website for tips on tick prevention for
We hope this answers your questions on how to keep your dog tick-free while camping. Above all, don't worry too much about those pesky ticks and enjoy your wonderful camping experience! May you and your dog create beautiful memories and experiences together wherever you roam.