The camper van lifestyle comes with numerous risks that we must prepare for to protect ourselves. But when it comes to our pets and their safety, there is one thing that will always pose a threat: ticks. Ticks live throughout North America, and it’s essential to have ways to defend your pet from these parasites.
Where Are Ticks Mostly Found?
Ticks are tiny parasites that, in most cases, aren’t bigger than a poppy seed, so there may be thousands living in a single area. In the outdoors, ticks usually sit on the tips of tall grass, prepared to latch onto the next creature that makes contact.
Since ticks are so small, they can easily remain unseen and are difficult to detect when they find a host. You may also find ticks in areas with many trees or dense brush, so it’s crucial to be mindful of where you’re walking when in forests, fields, and hiking trails.
The Effects of Ticks on Animals
As a parasite, ticks will have various effects on the animal it uses as its host. Ticks feed off the animal’s blood, which will cause various diseases in your pet. The most common disease is Lyme disease, which primarily comes from ticks. Lyme disease will cause your pet’s joints to swell, and the inflammation may result in constant pain and eventual arthritis, making it difficult for them to move or relax.
Ticks may also cause Rocky Mountian spotted fever in pets, which may be fatal when a tick has Rickettsia bacteria in its system. This spotted fever causes an irritating rash, crusted black spots, and other symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and soreness. Fortunately, this issue is treatable with antibiotics, but it’s important to understand these side effects in case you can’t keep your pet tick-free while van camping.
What Do Ticks Look Like on Pets?
As you check your pet for ticks, you must know what you’re looking for to remove the danger. Ticks will have oval-shaped, flat bodies and are usually different shades of brown or black. The tick size may vary, and they can be as small as a mustard seed, so you will need to check your pet’s skin under quality lighting. If there are any bulbous spots on your pet, this may be a tick that has had a long feeding and needs removal.
Keeping Your Pet Free of Ticks
As you and your companion travel from place to place and occasionally go on walks through nature, you must keep them safe from ticks. Fortunately, there are several ways to ensure your pet keeps ticks off its body and prevents ticks from latching on for too long.
Check Them After Every Walk and Before Bed
If you have a pet with a very thick pelt or a large body, you may not see everything that they get in their fur. Checking for ticks is a common practice amongst campers, especially when staying on a campground or parked near a tall grass field. Check your pet for ticks after every walk through an area with tall grass or closely packed trees. When you check them after walks, you can find and remove ticks before they can cause any damage to your pet.
It’s also important to check them for ticks before you pack up for the day and settle down in the camper. Ticks may latch onto nearby bodies, such as your own, creating another feeding ground for them to survive longer. A tick that stays on its host overnight will also increase the chances of the host contracting one of the abovementioned diseases.
Please Keep Track of Them When They Are Free To Roam
It’s always best to keep track of your pet wherever you go. Keeping track of them is also essential in keeping pets tick-free while van camping, as they may easily wander off into an area infested with ticks and come out with multiple parasites. Keep an eye on your pet to ensure they stay near you or within clearings.
Cover Parts of Their Body
Ticks will latch onto open areas of the body, whether it’s a human’s skin or a dog’s fur. People will often wear long socks and long sleeves and tuck in their boots when they expect to walk through tall grass or on a forest trail. This clothing ensures that if they accidentally brush against some vegetation or trees, a tick won’t attach to their skin.
It would help if you prepared your pet similarly by placing a vest, coat, or anything else covering most of their body. This extra layer will defend them against ticks and create a smaller area where ticks may attach, allowing you to check your pets with ease. Coverage may be harder on animals with fluffy pelts or who tend to squirm in clothing, but there still are other ways to defend them from ticks.
Always Keep Them on the Trail
Keeping to the trail is one of the essential rules of any walk through the outdoors, and for a good reason. The trail will remain a safe zone, keep you from danger, such as snakes and other wildlife, and keep your pet away from ticks. You are less likely to find ticks in a clear area away from tall grass and brush, making trails the ideal method of travel for you and your pet.
Keep your pet on a tight leash; they will most likely want to sniff around the area, so you should keep a watchful eye on them as they sniff about. You will still need to check for ticks when you return to the van, but by keeping your pet close, you will have a better chance of avoiding ticks.
Use a Shampoo With Tick Repellent
You will eventually need to wash your pet after exploring all that Mother Nature has to offer. When you bathe them, use shampoo to protect them against ticks. Anti-tick shampoo will create a coating on your pet’s body, fostering a harmful environment for ticks and other small pests. The shampoo requires some time to take effect, so you may want to wait a couple of days after bathing your pet before adventuring again.
Prevent Ticks From Entering the Van
Your camper van is a haven for you and your pet, so you’ll want to ensure it has the security necessary to keep you safe. Keeping the van closed at night and not allowing any dirt or leaves to enter will help you keep the area tidy and free of insects such as ticks.
If you have a large van such as a RAM Promaster, a Promaster rear door bug screen will prevent small insects from entering the van and stop ticks from entering. This screen allows you to both relax with the doors open on a nice summer day.
Ticks are some of the world’s most common parasites, and many pets remain vulnerable to becoming bitten. Use these methods to keep ticks away from your pet, so they will enjoy camping as much as you do while tick-free.