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  • Post last modified:May 23, 2024
  • Post category:Hiking
  • Reading time:24 mins read

How to Keep Ticks Off Dogs While Hiking: A Hiker’s Guide

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In our guide on “How to Keep Ticks Off Dogs While Hiking,” we explore the enriching experience of hiking with your dog and the need for tick prevention. Ticks, prevalent in many hiking environments, pose a significant health risk to dogs, causing diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Being proactive about tick prevention is crucial for your dog’s safety. This involves pre-hike preparations and post-hike checks to keep your dog tick-free. We’ll discuss understanding tick risks, hike preparation, on-trail prevention strategies, and actions if a tick latches onto your dog. So, let’s prepare for a safe and enjoyable hike.

Table of Contents

How to keep ticks off dogs
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Understanding the Threat: Ticks and Your Dog

When it comes to hiking with your dog, ticks are more than just a minor inconvenience; they are a serious threat to your pet’s health. These small, blood-sucking parasites are adept at latching onto passing animals and can be found lurking in the very environments where hikers and their canine companions love to explore. Understanding the risks associated with ticks is the first step in safeguarding your dog’s health on your hiking adventures.

Ticks: The Hidden Dangers in Plain Sight:

Ticks are not just pests; they are carriers of various diseases that can have lasting impacts on your dog’s health. When a tick bites, it can transmit pathogens that cause illnesses such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, and even induce tick paralysis. These diseases can lead to symptoms ranging from fever and lethargy to more severe neurological issues, and in some cases, if left untreated, can be fatal.

The Lifecycle and Behavior of Ticks:

Ticks go through several life stages, from egg to larva, nymph, and finally, adult. At each stage after hatching, they require a blood meal to progress to the next, which is why they are so persistent in seeking out hosts. They are known to inhabit areas with dense vegetation, tall grasses, and woods—common settings for hiking trails. Ticks can’t fly or jump, but they excel at climbing onto tall grasses and shrubs, where they wait to grab onto a host.

Prevalence and Peak Activity:

While ticks are often thought to be a warm-weather problem, the truth is they can be active year-round. Their activity peaks during warmer months, but in some regions, they can pose a threat even during the colder parts of the year. This means that no matter when you hike, it’s important to be vigilant about tick prevention.

The Risk to Your Dog:

Dogs are especially at risk because of their curious nature and tendency to run through the underbrush where ticks are commonly found. Once attached, ticks can be hard to spot due to their small size, especially in the immature stages, and the thick fur of dogs provides an ideal hiding place.

In the next sections, we’ll discuss how to prepare for a hike with your dog to minimize the risk of tick bites, as well as what to do if you find a tick on your pet. By staying informed and taking the right precautions, you can help ensure that your time spent hiking with your dog is both enjoyable and safe.

Dog and hiker on top of a mountain
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Pre-Hike Preparation: Steps to Take Before You Hit the Trail

Ensuring your dog’s safety on a hike begins long before you set foot on the trail. Proper preparation is key to preventing tick infestations and the potential diseases they carry. Here are some essential steps to take before you and your four-legged friend embark on your next outdoor adventure.

Selecting the Right Tick Prevention Products: 

Before heading out, it’s important to choose the right tick prevention products for your dog. There are various options available, including topical treatments(Amazon), tick collars (Amazon), and oral medications(Amazon). Consult with your veterinarian to select a product that is safe and effective for your dog, considering factors such as your dog’s size, health, and the tick prevalence in the area you’ll be hiking.

Grooming: A Layer of Defense:

 A well-groomed dog is a dog better protected against ticks. Keep your dog’s coat trimmed, especially during tick season. This not only makes it easier to spot ticks but also reduces the places where ticks can hide. Brushing your dog before and after a hike can help dislodge any ticks that have not yet attached.

Gear Up for Protection: 

Invest in protective gear designed to keep ticks off your dog. Dog booties can protect your dog’s paws from ticks and other hazards, while a body suit or a vest can provide an additional barrier against ticks. Make sure any gear you choose is comfortable for your dog and does not restrict movement.

Building Up Stamina: 

If your dog isn’t used to long walks or hikes, gradually increase their exercise regimen weeks before your planned hike. Start with shorter walks and slowly build up to the distance and terrain you expect to encounter on your hike. This will help your dog build the stamina and muscle strength needed for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

Packing Essentials: 

Don’t forget to pack essentials for your dog, including water, a collapsible bowl, dog food, and treats. Staying hydrated and nourished is just as important for your dog as it is for you. Also, bring a dog-specific first aid kit that includes tweezers for tick removal, antiseptic wipes, and bandages.

Trail Familiarization: 

Familiarize yourself with the trail beforehand. Know the terrain, the length of the trail, and any potential hazards. This will help you plan breaks and manage your dog’s energy levels throughout the hike.

By taking these steps, you can minimize the risk of tick bites and ensure that your hike with your dog is a safe and enjoyable experience. With preparation complete, you’ll be ready to tackle the trails and enjoy the great outdoors together.

Hiker and two dogs top of a cliff
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On the Trail: Tick Prevention Tactics While Hiking

Once you’re on the trail with your dog, staying vigilant and employing effective tick prevention tactics is crucial. Here are some strategies to keep your dog tick-free while enjoying the great outdoors:

Stay on Designated Trails: 

Ticks often reside in tall grasses and brush, waiting for a host to pass by. By sticking to the center of well-trodden paths, you reduce the chances of your dog brushing against tick-infested vegetation.

Dress Your Dog Appropriately: 

Consider outfitting your dog with protective clothing such as tick-repellent bandanas or vests. These can act as an extra barrier against ticks and make it easier to spot any that may latch on.

Regular Checks and Grooming: 

Throughout your hike, take the time to check your dog for ticks, especially in areas where they are likely to hide, such as under the collar, tail, legs, and between the toes. Use a flea comb to help detect and remove any ticks from your dog’s fur.

Use Natural Repellents: 

Applying pet-safe, natural repellents like citronella(Amazon) can help deter ticks. Ensure any product you use is safe for dogs and reapply as directed by the product instructions.

Avoid Tick Hotspots: 

If possible, avoid areas known to be heavily infested with ticks, such as dense woods, marshy areas, or places with high grass and leaf litter.

Post-Hike Tick Check: 

After your hike, conduct a thorough tick check on your dog. This is best done immediately to prevent ticks from having time to transmit diseases. Pay close attention to the common hiding spots mentioned earlier.

By following these tactics, you can significantly reduce the risk of your dog picking up ticks during your hike. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the hike with your furry friend while keeping them safe and healthy.

Also Read: How to keep your dog cool while camping.

Hiking with the dog ticks attack
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Post-Hike Care: Ensuring Your Dog is Tick-Free

After a day of trekking through nature with your dog, post-hike care is essential to ensure they remain tick-free. This crucial step can prevent the transmission of tick-borne diseases and keep your dog healthy and happy. Here’s how to conduct a thorough post-hike check and care routine:

Immediate Tick Check: 

As soon as you finish your hike, perform a detailed tick check on your dog. Focus on common hiding spots such as under the collar, tail, between the toes, under the legs, and around the elbows. Use a fine-toothed comb or your fingers to feel for any bumps that may indicate a tick.

Safe Tick Removal: 

If you find a tick, remove it promptly using fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. After removal, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

Post-Hike Grooming: 

Give your dog a thorough grooming session after the hike. This includes brushing their fur to remove any ticks you may have missed and bathing them with a tick-prevention shampoo. Pay special attention to cleaning their paws and underbelly, which are likely to come into contact with ticks.

Hydration and Rest: 

Ensure your dog is well-hydrated after the hike. Provide them with fresh water and let them rest, especially if they’re not used to long treks. This will help them recover from the physical exertion and reduce stress, which can weaken their immune system.

Monitor Your Dog’s Health: 

In the days following the hike, keep an eye on your dog for any signs of tick-borne diseases, such as fever, lethargy, joint pain, or loss of appetite. If you notice any unusual symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Regular Vet Visits: 

Schedule a follow-up visit with your vet after hiking in tick-prone areas. They can perform a more thorough check and provide professional advice on tick prevention and care.

By following these post-hike care steps, you can ensure that your dog remains tick-free and healthy after your outdoor adventures. It’s a small investment of time and effort that can make a big difference in your dog’s well-being.

tick bites on a dog
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When Prevention Fails: Recognizing and Responding to Tick Bites

Despite all the preventive measures, there may be times when a tick manages to latch onto your dog. Recognizing and responding promptly to tick bites is crucial in preventing the transmission of any potential diseases. Here’s what you need to know:

Identifying Tick Bites: 

A tick bite can be identified by a small red bump on your dog’s skin, often accompanied by redness and swelling at the bite site. Dogs may show signs of discomfort, such as excessive itching, scratching, or licking the area. Other symptoms to watch for include lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, and lameness, which could indicate a tick-borne disease.

Immediate Response to Tick Bites: 

If you find a tick on your dog, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting or jerking the tick, as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.


Once the tick is removed, clean the bite area with antiseptic soap or wipes. Monitor the site for signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, or discharge. Keep an eye on your dog’s overall health in the following weeks for any signs of tick-borne diseases, and consult your veterinarian if you notice any concerning symptoms.

Professional Veterinary Care: 

If you’re uncomfortable removing the tick yourself or if you notice any signs of illness after a tick bite, seek professional veterinary care immediately. Your vet can safely remove the tick and provide appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics if a tick-borne disease is suspected.

Prevention After Exposure: 

After a tick bite, it’s important to reassess your tick prevention strategy. Discuss with your vet about potentially changing or enhancing your current tick prevention methods to reduce the risk of future bites.

By knowing how to recognize and respond to tick bites, you can take swift action to protect your dog’s health. Remember, quick and proper response to tick bites is key to preventing complications from tick-borne diseases.


As we wrap up our guide on “How to Keep Ticks Off Dogs While Hiking,” it’s clear that the key to a safe and enjoyable hike with your canine companion lies in diligent preparation and awareness. By understanding the risks ticks pose, preparing before the hike, employing prevention tactics on the trail, and conducting thorough post-hike checks, you can significantly reduce the chances of tick bites and the associated diseases.

Remember, ticks are a year-round threat in many regions, and the responsibility of protecting your dog falls on you as a pet owner and hiking enthusiast. The effort you put into tick prevention will pay off in the form of countless memorable and worry-free adventures with your loyal friend.

So, grab your hiking boots, prep your pup, and hit the trails with confidence, knowing you’re equipped with the knowledge to keep your dog tick-free. Happy hiking!


Here are some resources that provide additional information on how to keep ticks off dogs while hiking, which can be useful for further reading:

  1. Zoetis Petcare: Offers insights into avoiding ticks while hiking with your dog, emphasizing the importance of using safe and effective tick-preventative medication.
  2. Hiking Made Easy: Provides a list of 10 tips to prevent ticks while hiking with your dog, including the use of tick repellent and ensuring a short coat for easier tick detection.
  3. Hunting Waterfalls: Discusses five easy ways to keep ticks off dogs while hiking, such as getting a tick prevention collar and using specialized tick treatment and medication.
  4. Hiking Daily: Highlights the importance of staying on cleared trails and showering soon after hiking to wash off any unattached ticks.
  5. Joey Journeys: Suggests various methods to keep ticks off dogs while hiking, including using tick repellents designed for dogs and taking extra precautions like staying on marked trails.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What keeps ticks away from dogs?

Using tick repellent products that are safe for dogs, such as topical treatments, tick collars, and oral medications, can keep ticks away. Consulting with a veterinarian to choose the right product is essential.

In addition to the measures for hiking, ensure your camping area is clear of tall grass and brush. Use natural repellents around your campsite and keep your dog’s resting area clean and tick-free.

Natural repellents like citronella, eucalyptus oil, and apple cider vinegar can help repel ticks. However, always ensure that any natural product used is safe for dogs.

The safest tick prevention is one that is recommended by your veterinarian, as they can advise on the most effective and safe products based on your dog’s specific needs and health status.

Ticks dislike certain smells and substances, such as DEET, permethrin, citronella, and eucalyptus. Products containing these can be effective at keeping ticks at bay.

Ticks can be active at any time of day, but they are typically more active during the morning and evening in warmer temperatures.

Yes, tick collars can be effective, especially those that release chemicals slowly over time to repel or kill ticks. It’s important to choose a collar that is specifically designed for dogs and to follow the usage instructions carefully.