The first fall seasons we lived in our little clearing in the woods, hunting dogs would wander through, nose to the ground. I’d dutifully shoo them away, although they never seemed interested in the livestock or even my own dogs. I had no desire to touch them, as ticks in every stage of engorgement dripped off their ears and other tender parts of their lean, weary bodies.
Many of us remember the days when we had to “dip” our dogs. It was messy, toxic, it stunk, and we could only imagine what we were doing to our pets while fleas and maybe ticks dropped off. Now we have topicals that are easy to apply.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is an independent council composed of veterinarians and health care professionals that establishes guidelines for control of parasites. Here are some of their recommendations for tick prevention:
remove habitat that ticks live in such as tall grass,
keep weeds down, remove brush piles,
select plants that do not attract deer.
If you are interested in the chemicals that they suggest to spray in the environment, you’ll have to go to their website. We’re organic here at Millknock and I think it makes a difference. We’ve not had fleas in the 17 years we’ve lived here and I attribute it in part to the fact that we have not made bionic “super resistant fleas” due to not spraying or using pesticides to eliminate them. However, I realize that some parts of the country have severe flea problems they must deal with.
For treatment of ticks, CAPC recommends:
Remove them manually
Regular application of acaricides. The acaracides with the greatest efficacy are: amitraz (available in a spot-on formulation and an impregnated collar), fipronil (available in a spot-on formulation and an impregnated collar), and permethrin (available in a spot-on formulation and an impregnated collar). These three may help prevent tick attachment and can cause tick death within 24 to 48 hours.
Certain permethrin formulations seem to have a repellent like-activity that you can use on your clothing or material. Amitraz, fipronil, and permethrin spot on formulas can be safely used on dogs, but only fipronil is approved for cats.
Selamectin kills just two kinds of ticks on dogs and has a slower speed of kill, so may not be as effective in removing ticks in the 24-48 hour span.
The Preventic collar is considered the most effective treatment against ticks, but has no effect on fleas. It contains Amitraz, a powerful chemical, and you need to heed the warnings that accompany the collar; do not allow your pet to ingest any part of the collar. If you have multiple dogs, and there is risk of mouthing the collar in play, it may not be the preventative choice for your dogs. It lasts for 3 months and is the least expensive tick treatment.
Frontline is probably the most recommended tick and flea treatment by veterinarians. It contains fipronil. Frontline does not enter the bloodstream, but travels along the skin and settles in the sebaceous-oil-glands of the dog. As the tick crawls along fipronil attacks the nervous system of the tick and paralyzes before it can bite the dog and pass infection. Application every 30 days is best, as you risk making the ticks more resistant to the fipronil if you try to extend the time. One recommendation is to not follow the directions for applying Frontline in one spot, but spread it down the back in increments, against the skin, which will shorten the amount of time (up to 48 hours) that it takes to cover your dog. (and it won’t drip down the shoulders as I’ve seen it do on my dogs)
K9Advantix is another top spot whose ingredients are permethrin for ticks and imidocloprid for fleas. It works the same way as Frontline.
Oral and injectable treatments, in my opinion, are not recommended. They enter the bloodstream and do not work until after the tick bites the dog. I think the least invasive approach to our dogs' health is the best one. These other alternatives add tick prevention as a secondary benefit.
If you want to read more about tick diseases in dogs, I found a wonderful website devoted entirely to the subject. It is fairly well established that there are many tick-born diseases that don’t even have a name yet. Research indicates ticks could be responsible for diseases not previously attributed to them. Tick born disease is also not always diagnosed correctly. Your vet can do an in-house Snap test to test for Lymme, Erlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Heartworm. If indicated or there is a question of results, you can do a Quantitative C6 test.
Elizabeth Kolbert, in her fascinating article titled The Fifth Extinction? describes five big extinctions in our earth’s history. There was once a mass extinction of brachiopods (they look like clams) and most of the marine animals and today there is evidence of another mass extinction of creatures such as frogs and bats. Frogs and bats contribute to the environmental equilibrium, no one has found a “reason” for ticks. My question is why can’t we have a mass extinction of ticks!