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Animals | Outdoors

Pet Care for the Camper

June 22, 2016

Help your campsite companion avoid ticks and fleas on your adventures

The Northwest is known for amazing sunsets, glorious hiking trails, pristine lakes, and wonderful camping adventures. We’re also known for fleas and ticks, which can lead to some seriously miserable pets and camping experiences.

By taking a few precautions, you can keep your pets happy and bloodsucker free during and after your next outdoor adventure.


Most veterinarians urge dog owners to have their dogs fully vaccinated before camping. This can include a Lyme disease vaccination. If you’re not sure if your pooch is up on his shots, or if your dog can handle specific vaccinations, ask your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to one of your favorite family members.

Ticks and Their Territories

If you’ve dealt with ticks before, you know how tricky they can be to spot at first. When they’re small, they feel like a small bump on your pet. But as they feed on your dog’s blood, they get bigger.

Problem is, ticks don’t just attach dogs, they can also attack you. When you get bitten, these invaders suck your blood for nourishment, and can transmit bacterial and viral diseases. Not very pleasant, right?

When you’re camping, you’ll generally find ticks in high grasses, under leaves, and shaded areas. Ticks do not attack from trees, but rather from the ground or grasses, crawling upwards. Because you’re more likely to be wearing hiking boots, they won’t find anyplace to attach on you. But your dog can be susceptible.

To help alleviate the risks of ticks, walk down the center of trails and set up tent in designated areas. If you’re hiking in and setting up camp outside a campground, be sure to avoid areas where there are a lot of leaves on the ground. Sure, leaves are soft to sleep on, but ticks are likely to be lurking in the darkness. When you stay in the sun, you’re more likely to avoid ticks and keep your pet happy. That’s because younger ticks called nymphs cannot live in direct sunlight.

Fleas are Fearless

Fleas are a natural part of our Northwest landscape. These pests attack mammals of all shapes and sizes, including your canine. While there isn’t a lot you can do to completely avoid fleas, when you steer clear of ticks, you’re also avoiding fleas. Also, applying flea and tick treatments before you hit the trails can really be a benefit.

Repellants and Preventions

If you simply want to add a repellent to your pets and yourself, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges pet owners to use repellents that contain at least 20% DEET. While it might not be the most natural alternative, it is one of the most effective.

As for prevention, there are a lot to choices, from collars and drops, to daily pills. You and your veterinarian can decide on the right option for your pet. Just keep in mind that some products kill fleas and ticks, while others will only repel and kill fleas. Be sure to read the label carefully and check for active ingredients. When it comes to dogs, you want products that contain permithrin, pyrethrin, or fipronil. These are proven to kill and deter pests.