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Tick-Borne Infections

by Sam Mazzotta

Dear Paw’s Corner: I’m afraid to take my 1-year-old Lab, Shiner, on hikes in the woods because he might be bitten by a tick and get ill. What’s your take on the tick situation?
—Brian in Concord, New Hampshire

Dear Brian: Even though ticks carrying diseases like Lyme are a concern, do not let the risk put you off of bringing your dog along on hiking adventures. Yes, ticks are numerous, and you live in a hotspot for tick-borne diseases. There are precautions that you can take to keep both Shiner and yourself healthy.

A Lyme vaccine is available for dogs, so talk to your vet about getting Shiner this shot. Ticks carry other diseases too. So be sure that Shiner wears a flea-and-tick-repellent collar or takes a flea-and-tick (and heartworm) preventative medication.

eep ticks off of your own skin by treating clothing and gear with permethrin and letting it dry completely before wearing the gear (permethrin should never be applied to your skin). Just before setting out on your hike, spray insect repellent that works on numerous bugs, including ticks and fleas, onto your skin.

After your hike, before getting into the car, check Shiner’s coat for ticks and other bugs. Run your hand along his fur from head to tail to dislodge any critters or debris from the top of his coat. Check under his tail and between the pads of his paws. Shake your gear out and do a tick check on yourself as much as possible.

At home, do a more thorough check of Shiner by running your hands into his coat and visually checking his fur and skin. Remove any embedded ticks using a tick removal tool.

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