If you’re smart enough to be looking into how to keep ticks off dogs, you’re well ahead of the game. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and it couldn’t be more true, especially when it comes to ticks.
Most tick species don’t survive well indoors but a few do, mainly the Brown Dog Tick. And despite their name, these pesky blood suckers affect more than just brown dogs.
They’ll suck on dogs of any color, bite human hosts if there are no canine hosts to be had and unlike most tick species, the Brown Dog Tick can complete its entire life cycle indoors.
That means that once a few have settled into your home – and started laying babies, they can be darned hard to get rid of.
Which is why prevention is key. And since the most common way ticks get into your home is on your dog, the wisest thing to do is to prevent ticks from getting on your dog in the first place!
How to Keep Ticks Off Dogs
Here’s how to keep ticks off dogs – using both pesticide products and all natural solutions – so they never make it into your home to begin with!
The easiest, most hands-off way to keep ticks off your dog is to simply strap on a tick collar. Tick collars work by gradually releasing a pesticide that gets gradually absorbed into your dog’s skin (not his bloodstream, don’t worry), making him essentially tick-proof.
They’re also affordable and all-terrain, so you can take your dog swimming and bathe him without compromising the effects of the tick collar.
The most effective dog collar for tick is Virbac’s Preventic Tick Collar, which is the only tick collar that detaches and kills ticks. It doesn’t work right away – the collar takes around 24 hours to start working – but it has the advantage of lasting longer. It doesn’t just kill the ticks that are on your dog now – each collar provides 3 months of protection.
The downside is that tick collars work for ticks only – not fleas, so if you’re dealing with both, you’ll want to use the Preventic collar alongside a flea treatment for dogs.
Spot-On Tick Treatments
If you want long-lasting protection from both ticks and fleas, spot on treatments are the way to go. These “drops” are topical treatments that you apply on your dog just once a month to not only kill and repel ticks, but also fleas in all life stages, biting flies, mosquitoes and lice.
These spot-on treatments work by depositing into the sweat glands of the dog’s skin, where the active ingredient can be released over several weeks’ time. The treatments are waterproof so they’re suitable for outdoorsy dogs and they apply directly on your dog’s fur, between his shoulders, so there’s little risk of dogs licking off and ingesting the treatment.
The downside is that they’re pricier than tick collars and it adds up quick, since you need a new application every month. That being said, they do offer convenience, ease of use and they’re effective!
Your dog has to be bathed anyway, right? Why not multitask and lather him up with a tick shampoo that will not only kill ticks and fleas currently living on his body, but also keep them off?
The best shampoo for the job is hands down Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo, which kills both ticks and fleas (and flea babies!), and leaves your dog’s fur soft and clean.
Want a more natural option? Wondercide’s Flea & Tick Natural Shampoo Bar uses a combination of natural insect repellents like neem oil, citronella, and geranium oil to ward off ticks (and fleas). The shampoo bar isn’t strong enough to kill ticks already on your dog, but it works well enough to deter new ones from hopping aboard!
If you rarely take your dog out to tick-infested areas like the woods or places with dense vegetation, you might want a more short-term, use-it-when-you-need-it option. Enter tick sprays.
These provide a super affordable, on-the-go option to keep ticks off your dog. Simply spray before you venture out into the great outdoors to repel ticks. You can also spritz when your dog gets back from potential tick-infested places like the kennel to quickly kill any ticks that may have snuck onto your dog’s skin.
Adams Plus Flea & Tick Spray works as well as their shampoo – which is the best tick shampoo, in our honest opinion – to quickly kill ticks and provide residual protection.
If you’d prefer a natural tick spray, Ark Naturals Neem Protect Spray is a potent tick repellent but be warned: it’s main repelling power is neem, which is pungent smelling, to say the least.
Essential oils aren’t just good for promoting relaxation – several of them have been shown to repel insects. Plus, they have the advantage of being all natural. So which ones are the best to keep ticks off your dog?
Rose geranium tops the list. The main perks? It smells lovely and is a potent repellent against ticks. Just one drop between the shoulder blades and one at the base of your dog’s tail should do the trick. Oh, and of course, you and the other humans can use it, too
Lemon eucalyptus oil is also a winner for repelling ticks – as well as other pesky blood suckers like mosquitoes. Just make sure that you get lemon eucalyptus oil that comes from the actual lemon eucalyptus tree and not a blend of lemon oil and eucalyptus oil. Actually, you shouldn’t use lemon oil on your dog at all since it can be toxic.
Oh, another note: cats really don’t like lemon eucalyptus oil so don’t use this on your cat! In fact, many flea and tick products are not cross-species intended. Always make sure that a product is safe for both dogs and cats before using a dog product on a cat and vice versa.
Other essential oils that are helpful for repelling ticks include lemongrass, citronella, eucalyptus, and cedar wood, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, geraniol, and garlic oil. Skip tea tree oil – it can be toxic to both dogs and cats.
The above ways to keep ticks off dogs are all about what you put on your dog – but a solid prevention plan goes beyond your dog. It’s about reducing every opportunity for ticks to climb aboard…
Ticks are tricky little buggers and sometimes, despite your best efforts, they can find a way onto your dog anyway. The best way to catch them before they can do any damage? Check your dog regularly!
That means performing a thorough inspection after every walk as well as on a regular – preferably daily – basis. Ticks can attach themselves anywhere but they especially like dark, moist areas on the body so pay particular attention to those spots!
Better yet, it’s a good idea to cut your dog’s fur close to his skin, especially if you live in a tick-infested area. This makes it so much easier to check him for ticks – with the short hair, you could even go the super lazy route and use a lint roller to quickly pick up any ticks after each walk!
Avoid tick country
Ticks are pretty picky when it comes to housing – as they say, it’s all about location, location, location! So what are a tick’s favorite habitats? Ticks love tall grasses and dense vegetation. These types of areas make it easy for ticks to climb up to opportune places by the hiking trail and wait for you and your dog to pass by.
If you’re regularly hiking through weedy areas with plenty of shrubs, there’s likely to be an army of hungry ticks just waiting for a warm-blooded host to climb on. Avoid those areas!
If you absolutely can not stay away, a good idea is to keep your dog on a leash. As all dog owners know, dogs love to investigate along the edges of trails, which is where ticks are most likely to be hiding out on blades of grass or brush. Simply keeping your dog on a leash so you could both walk in the middle of the trail can be enough to thwart the best laid plans of waiting ticks.
Treat your yard
Even if you don’t roam around in dense vegetation, if you have ticks in the yard, it’s only a matter of time before your dog goes out for a bathroom break and comes in with uninvited guests.
And keep in mind that all it takes is a few ticks to blow up into a full-scale infestation.
You can prevent all of that from happening simply by treating your yard. Here’s a full guide on how to kill and repel ticks in your yard!