Ticks are blood-sucking parasites closely related to spiders and scorpions. There are several species of ticks including Rhipicephalus sanguineus the Brown Dog Tick, Dermacentor viriabilis the American Dog Tick, and Ixodes species, the Deer Tick. All can transmit diseases such as Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis and Lyme Disease, and can cause a paralytic disease in dogs called Tick Paralysis.
Ticks prefer to attach on the head and neck, in the ears, around the anus, near the shoulder blades, and between the toes. A male and a female tick will often attach together with the female becoming quite large as she engorges with blood. The female will detach and lay thousands of eggs in the environment. (Up to 2000 at a time!) These eggs hatch into larval ticks called "seed ticks" which sometimes are seen by the thousands on some dogs. Seed ticks must feed on blood from a dog or other mammal, then they fall to the ground and molt into a "nymph" stage. Again, the nymphs must find a mammalian host, feed on blood, and again fall to the ground and molt into adults.
When the adults find a host to feed on, the cycle is completed and begins again. This entire cycle can take from 2 months up to 2 years, and will tend to proceed faster in warm, moist weather. Because all life stages can feed on your dog, and because ticks lay large quantities of eggs, tick problems can escalate rapidly. Frequent and consistent treatment will be essential to ending and controlling the problem.
CONTROL OF TICK INFESTATION
There is no one-plan-fits-all strategy, but in short, killing and repelling ticks on the dog, and destroying and removing the eggs and nymphs from the house and yard are essential parts of any strategy.
It is best to work with your veterinarian to select safe and effective products. There are hundreds if not thousands of products sold today, many that are unproven and unsafe. Your veterinarian will generally have the latest improvements and safest agents available. Avoid untrained pet store personnel who have little training in chemistry and parasite control. Most are simply trying to sell you a product, not treat your pet in the best possible manner.
ORAL PREVENTATIVES are now the state of the art "go to" product. A simple once-a-month chewable tab will give 100% coverage of your pet, fantastic safety, and not only do these products kill ticks, THEY STOP TICKS FROM REPRODUCING! This gives great benefits on both fronts. We currently recommend Simparica.
TOPICAL REPELLANTS such as TriTak, Frontline and Advantage are applied to the skin of the dog or cat where they spread out and over the entire skin area. These provide a “total body tick collar” and are very effective in killing and repelling ticks. These agents have minimal toxicity for most pets: side effects are very rare. These are no longer considered the "state of the art" in flea and tick control today thanks to the new oral products. Avoid "knock off" products such as those sold in chain stores. We have seen poor performance and some severe toxic reactions from many off-brand chemicals sold in pet and retail stores. We also advise against products like Hartz, Sargents and Store-Name Brands.
DIPS provide quick and effective tick kill and can usually be mixed from a concentrate and poured or sponged onto your dog. They are not used much anymore except in extreme circumstances. Few safe and effective products are still marketed today. Do not rinse off the dip to provide residual anti-tick activity.
TOPICAL SPRAYS such as ADAMS spray, works well to quickly kill ticks and is very safe even for young animals. Sprays can be used in conjunction with topical and/or systemic medications. Alcohol-based sprays work best, but some people and dogs may be bothered by the fumes, so less effective water-based treatments are also available. We have ADAMS Spray always available. It is a well-proven product and has been around for years now.
SHAMPOOS also kill adult ticks, and assist in cleaning eggs and dirt from the coat, but have minimal strength or residual activity and no effectiveness against tick eggs. Using shampoo then dipping or using a spray is the best strategy if you choose this route.
TICK COLLARS can be toxic to your dog and can irritate the skin on the neck of your pet. Tick collars are generally a waste of money compared to high-quality oral and spot-on products now available.
FOGGERS and SPRAYS for the house and yard are useful and important in controlling the balance of your tick population. Newer foggers have time-release agents and providing kill for weeks after application. Many contain growth regulators to inhibit the hatching of eggs already in the environment. Foggers also apply their chemicals EVERYWHERE which happens to be where the ticks live, so these can be very useful in getting a bad tick problem quickly under control. Many sprays work in similar fashion but are better suited for direct application to baseboards and bedding areas where the heaviest infestations will occur. We have a direct application product available for this purpose.
Spaying the yard, grass, fences, patios and dirt areas with a yard spray made for ticks is also important to get tick problems under control. Spraying may be needed every 7-10 days in warmer weather, and you can do it yourself or hire professional exterminators to do the job for you. Be careful to keep your dogs away from freshly sprayed areas until they are dry. WE have a good quality do-it-yourself yard spray to meet your needs.