Ticks. The evil, evil little arachnid. I can feel them crawling on me as I write this. And yes, it is tick season yet again.
Is there any way to completely protect against getting these little passengers on your pet, or preventing from going from passenger to diner? I wish the answer was yes, but it is not. There are ways, however, of countering the onslaught.
Many heartworm medications are now coming in a compound blend that includes a product that kills ticks. They work by ingesting the pill, having isoxazolines disperse into your pets’ blood and skin, and when a flea or tick bites, these isoxazolines work as nerve agents and paralyze the tick, making it fall off. They do not stop the bite from happening, and it does mean having a chemical in your pets’ system, which can cause reactions in some pets.
There are inexpensive collars that are designed to repel ticks, sometimes even available at discount stores. Better than nothing, they not as effective as other products. There are collars with blends of active ingredients, which may be higher priced, and are usually better suited to the task.
There are commercial flea sprays, that will work for fleas, ticks and mosquitos. Because you are applying it at the time of use, they tend to be more effective, but less convenient. While the can be more effective, that doesn’t mean 100% effective, though.
There are liquid products that you apply to the back of the dog’s neck, which again vary in strength and ingredients. Some work better than others, but most have a 3 week effectiveness window, and will wash off if the dog swims often or is groomed. There are many products that come in this form, some more effective than others, and some have caused adverse reactions, ranging from skin irritations through to seizures or worse. One precaution you can take is prior to applying the entire tube, try just a little bit to see if there is a reaction.
Lastly, there are products for people looking for a more natural approach. There are many home remedies, involving apple cider vinegar, essential oils, and other repellants. These can be used for most insects, including mosquitos. There are also silicone collars that are infused with essential oils. These last up to 8 months and work by slowly releasing the oils which then repel insects. We have seen some very good results with these so far.
The best option, by far, is to avoid tick infested areas. I know, the dog loves going to the dog park, and we know when to visit when the mosquitos aren’t as bad, but unfortunately, ticks don’t seem to take time off. So avoiding them means just staying away. Or knowing the risk.
Removing the tick properly is a very important part of Lyme prevention. Crushing the tick can cause it to regurgitate and if it is carrying Lyme, chance of infection is greatly increased. Same with burning them off, or coating them in Vaseline. These kill the tick, but in a traumatic way that causes them to regurgitate.
There are a number of products designed to slide under the tick, and lift it off the pet. The best ones have a v-groove to better remove the proboscis (the bitey part). For ticks that have not latched, duct tape. Lint rollers work, but duct tape really works, and holds them tight. Jackie just started using Gorilla tape, just to be safe.