Spring is here which means you and your pup are probably spending more time outside. Whether you are lounging in the yard, visiting Fido's favorite park, or going on a hike in one of the local parks we previously recommended, it is important to take the proper precautions to keep your dog safe.
The Importance of Tick Preventatives
Ticks are so small that even physically checking your dog, you might miss one (or three). Tick preventives come in all kinds of forms. There's monthly tablets, topical applications, and long lasting collars. Talk to your veterinarian about the right tick preventative for you. Whichever preventative you choose, it is only as effective if you follow the directions to a T.
Manually Checking Your Dog for Ticks
Even if your dog is on a preventative regime, ticks can still hitch a ride on your pet or stubborn ticks may not be phased by your preventative choice. It is important to thoroughly check your dog's entire body, especially close to the skin. Pay careful attention to the following places:
Ticks that are Native to the State of Virginia
The five most common species of ticks in Virginia are the American Dog Tick, Deer Tick or Blacklegged Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Gulf Coast Tick, and Lone Star Tick. Each type of tick can carry a different disease depending on its species. The following graphics show what each species looks like as well as the diseases that it can transmit.
Some parks, such as Ida Lee Park, indicate the presence of ticks with signs stationed throughout the park. The signs can usually be found in unkempt areas. Other parks, like Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, may not indicate the presence of ticks but you should assume that you will come in contact with them. I've actually had clients request we not go to Banshee Reeks because of how many ticks their dog comes home with.
I encourage you to do your own research and ask your vet for their recommendations on the best tick preventives. It is important to check your dog annually for tick borne diseases.