Bugs are more than just pests. Fleas carry diseases such as bubonic plague and parasites such as tapeworm. Mosquitoes can carry heartworm and West Nile virus. Flies can gnaw at ears and make your dog miserable, and ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, canine ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Your veterinarian can recommend several excellent spot-on topical preparations that will kill and repel fleas and ticks. Some topicals will actually repel chiggers, mosquitoes, and flies, too. The Preventic collar will kill ticks. Make sure the collar or topical you plan to use is appropriate for your dog's age, and ask if it will react with your dog's medications or any flea sprays or powders. If you're camping in areas where Lyme disease is a problem, ask if a Lyme disease vaccination might be appropriate. Be sure your dog is up-to-date on his heartworm medication, too.
How do you keep the critters off your dog? Follow these handy tips for hiking and camping bug-free:
- Trim the hair on your dog's legs and underbelly to keep him from picking up stray critters. Keep him out of brush and don't let him run loose.
- Use a topical product such as K9 Advantix, Advantage, Frontline Plus, or Biospot on your dog. Check with your veterinarian to make sure they do not react to other medications or flea and tick preparations.
- Use a Preventic collar in heavily tick-infested areas. Check your dog frequently for ticks when you're hiking, and remove them promptly.
- Use a flea comb on your dog every day to remove any extra pests.
- Use a tarp for ground cover to keep pests off you and your dog. Fly strips (sticky strips that attract flies) are a non-poisonous way to combat flies and other flying insects at camp. OFF makes a mosquito lantern that will help keep your area mosquito-free while camping.
- Don't use DEET products directly on dogs, because they can ingest the poison while grooming. (It's OK to use them for your own personal bug spray.)