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Franklin looks so cute, enjoying his hike romping through the tall grass- but it’s what you DON’T see that can really hurt him- TICKS!
During the past few years, ticks have been just AWFUL & getting worse! While our little cockapoo Benjamin only had a few ticks during his whole life, our cocker spaniel Franklin used to get a few every single hike!
I even had to pluck one out of own my arm last year. No fun!
Every remedy we tried wouldn’t repel ticks for long, but eventually we worked out a solid plan for all of us to avoid a tick infestation on our road trips – including our newest edition, Hazel.
The What, When, How of Ticks
Ticks are arachnids with eight legs and a voracious, bloody appetite. They are most active & plentiful in spring and fall, but we have seen them year-round here in Pennsylvania.
Ticks aren’t jumpers. Instead, they perch on leaves or grasses with their first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on for a ride…and a meal.
They attach to the skin and live by feeding on the blood of people, pets, birds, and other animals (especially deer in Pennsylvania). They can stay attached for up to 10 days, but typically fill up & fall off after 3 days. Ew.
Their bites can be harmless…but they can also carry a bunch of awful diseases outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. All of these start with different types of rashes, including the most common in our area- an expanding bulls-eye rash at the bite site.
The University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center has a complete guide to identifying tick types- plus a ton of other helpful & interesting information & photos if you in search of more details.
Protecting Pets from Ticks
After Benjamin got a chemical burn from one of the preventive monthly ticks meds we applied along his back and the monthly preventive pill version didn’t work, we were on a quest to find the safest tick protection for our dogs.
We knew we hit the perfect mix when our English cocker spaniel Franklin made it through tick-infested Sky Meadows State Park in northern Virginia in late-May virtually tick-less.
By “virtually”, I mean we still picked almost 40 ticks out of his fur, but, thankfully, NONE of them had attached to his skin! WIN!
This was our winning combination of tick protection:
The collar is conveniently adjustable & has no scent- PLUS, it repels fleas & ticks for EIGHT MONTHS! Both of our dogs keep theirs on all the time and haven't had any reaction or irritation to them.
We spray this on their bedding & sometimes directly on them, just to be double safe. The smell isn't overpowering- I can best describe it as a strong peppermint/clove combo.
Once Benjamin was gone and Hazel came along, she was so small and the collar agitated her. It always seemed to be very high up around her neck, and I became concerned it was too close to her face all the time.
We decided to try a chewable called Bravecto for both Franklin and Hazel.
It is more expensive method than the others and only lasts 3 months, but it’s just one small chew and no hassle when they get groomed or go swimming (like removing the collar). We still use the spray, too, and these two methods have also proved successful.
Protecting People from Ticks
I have always been a huge attraction for spiders, mosquitoes, bees- you name it, they are probably crawling on me if I’m outside- and ticks are no different!
Because of this, we use both a clothing/gear spray AND a skin spray to protect ourselves.
While I’d love to be organic and natural, unfortunately I’ve tried those sprays for years with zero luck. They don’t work for more than a few minutes, and the bites are too dang painful to play around with.
If you happen to have an organic/natural solution that works and lasts, please let us know! We’d love to give it a try!
For now, we use:
25% DEET with an easy spray pump- we have one in the RV & every car & in my bike basket, so I've linked to a multi-pack here. Strong scent, but smell subsides quickly. We usually reapply on longer hikes.
Recording and Reporting Your Ticks
Through a program called TickSpotter from the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center, YOU can become an important part of monitoring tick populations & illnesses!
Take a photo of any tick you see, note the date/time/location, answer a few simple questions, submit the form, and you are on your way to helping out!
Even though we’ve shared some great preventive measures, what if you find a tick already attached?
In addition to assembling an amazing amount of information about ticks, the University of Rhode Island also produced this video a few years ago to help you understand how to remove a tick:
Advice or Remedies to Share?
Please share below in our Comments!
We’d love to hear how you & your crew are dodging ticks!