Dr. Lexi Becker, DVM, has been the head veterinarian at the 2021 Bestie–winning Animal Hospital in Slingerlands since 2014, when she took over the practice from her father, who first opened it in 1974. Capital Region Living asked Dr. Becker for some advice on how to keep our dogs safe from ticks.
Seasons of the Tick
Typically, fall and spring are when you see the most ticks. They mostly thrive in damp and cool weather, and like taller grasses or shrubs. Ticks can’t jump, so they have to get themselves into a position where they can grab on if an animal or person were to walk by.
Ticks survive on blood, and they’re very efficient at getting it. The nymph—second in a tick’s three-stage life cycle—and the adult are the types that most commonly feed on dogs. They basically grab on, inject a numbing agent, attach and start sucking a dog’s blood.
All Breeds—But Especially These Ones—Beware
Though ticks can be an issue for all dogs, there is a certain condition called Lyme nephritis that more heavily affects labs and goldens—labs particularly, for some reason. It’s very hard to treat and typically fatal.
How to Spot Ticks on Spot
If your dog has been outside for only a short period of time, the most common place to find ticks on him or her is crawling up your dog’s legs or on his or her head. If dogs have been out longer, typically, you should do a nose-to-tail check, starting around your dog’s face and eyes, then behind his or her ears and beyond. Dogs’ armpits and groin areas are also places where ticks will commonly attach, but they can obviously attach anywhere. For long-haired dogs, get a not-too-sticky lint roller and lint-roll them to catch ticks.
Tick Removal 101
The easiest way to remove ticks from your dog is to get a tick puller. They look like little inverted fork-like objects that you hook around the base of the tick and then it lifts the tick out. Similarly, you can use tweezers. You’ll want to grip down as far as you can, closest to the connection of the tick’s head to the dog, then elevate it straight out.
Unfortunately, ticks are so bad in the Capital Region that it’s difficult to prevent dogs from getting them. There are a lot of preventive measures out there but it depends on what’s best for each dog and his or her household. One of the most common types is the oral class of preventative, which includes Nexgard or Bravecto. Those don’t repel ticks but rather kill them quickly after they attach to a dog. There are also repellent agents, like Advantix, which are more of the topical line of treatment.