This post was originally published at My Animal, My Health and has been republished with permission.
Simple steps to control and prevent ticks on your dogs and in your environment..
Experienced dog-owners can testify that ticks are a terrible menace for them and their animals. They will also understand the full impact of the discomfort, unease and ill-health that ticks can cause. In fact, don’t you think that any creature that creeps up to attach to one’s skin and suck blood for as long as it lives is enough to be a cause for great concern? I think so!
Interestingly, inquiries have been coming in from some of our readers on combating issues with ticks and fleas on their dogs. Therefore we will discuss this topic in detail over 4 weeks (4 modules). For now, we will give a brief introduction on ticks, how they get to your dogs and the simple most effective ways to control them.
Ticks are eight-legged blood-sucking, ecto-parasitic insects that attach themselves to the skin of animals (in this case, dogs) and can be a terrible source of affliction and discomfort. They are usually tiny insects but are somewhat larger when engorged with blood and generally, the egg-carrying females are larger than the males. Apart from the fact that they suck blood, they are also vectors transmitting various blood-borne diseases such as Erhlichiosis, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis etc. Various dog owners usually have varying experiences with ticks as some find it easy to treat while for some others, it may persist consistently or seasonally over the life of the dog.
How can your dogs get ticks?
Ticks can easily crawl up to a dog’s body, find a ‘comfortable’ hidden spot, attach itself firmly to the skin, begin its blood-sucking actions and continue its general life cycle. So, basically, dogs can easily get infested with tick through the following ways;
Through contact with an infested environment
Ticks are usually stationary animals (unlike fleas) and are known to stay around the same area in bushes and hidden places for a long time, even without food. As most healthy dogs love to run and play around in bushes, while taking a walk, or just snooping around, they come in contact with the ticks and get infested. Also, if your immediate neighborhood is heavily burden with ticks, it becomes a source of infestation. For example, if your neighbor has a dog(s) with heavy infestation, it is natural for some ticks to migrate to the next house and surroundings, creep over walls, and move to new cages where they might find a new home in your own dog(s).
Through extended contact with other dogs
Dogs can also get ticks through an extended ‘contact’ with a tick-infested dogs. This is common when infested and un-infested dogs play or board together. It can also happen when dogs stay in veterinary clinics that have acquired ticks from previously infested dogs and the clinic does not keep to routine hygiene, sanitation and fumigation. Also, if you buy a dog or puppy from a litter that is infested with ticks, there is high likelihood that the dog or puppy will have ticks and might have spread it to other un-infested dogs.
Home tips on how to clear your dogs of ticks
To control ticks, there are 2 major channels of controlling ticks
- Control tick population in your environment
- Control tick population on your dog’s body
1. Control tick population in your environment
To clear ticks from your environment, you must undertake environmental fumigation.
Normally, fumigation should be done once in 3 months but in severe cases of high tick burden, you can fumigate every month until the tick population reduces. Fumigants should be sprayed in cages, on walls, crevices, junk equipment and in places with visible and non-visible tick population because of the possible presence of eggs laid by the ticks.
In fact, as much as possible, bushes, junk equipment and wooden furniture should be cleared. Commonly used and effective fumigants include Diazintol and Amitraz.
However, it is best to allow your veterinary clinician handle the fumigation process because these chemicals are highly toxic and can kill dogs and humans in a very short time. Dogs are especially more sensitive to these chemicals. Also, before fumigation, it is best to temporarily keep your dogs totally away from the fumigation area including all of their plates, toys and feeding trough. After fumigation, your dog(s) should not return to the area until after about 3 days. Make sure the dogs don’t lick any past of the fumigated area so they do not ingest the chemicals and react to the toxicity.
2. Control tick population on your dog’s body
There are two major ways of clearing tick population on your dog’s body and for best results; these should be utilized concurrently. The approaches include the intrinsic use of systemic injections and external topical applications. The injections work by interfering with the ticks’ nervous systems thereby inactivating their movement and eventually killing them. You must consult your veterinary doctor for this treatment as they are the only authorized personnel to inject animals.
For external use, there are a wide range of medications and products that can be used to treat and prevent further tick infestation. These include giving your dog a tick bath and application of tick powders, pour-on, tick liners and tick collars for dogs. For heavy infestation, the tick bath should be given once a week until lower tick burdens is observed.
Warning and important things to note!
- In case of heavy tick infestations, it is best and most effective to combine environmental fumigation and dog treatment as described above.
- For best practices and safety, talk to a qualified veterinarian to help you with the tick bath and environmental fumigation. A tick bath and environmental fumigation that goes wrong can kill a dog or a human being in minutes! Also ensure you wear protective clothing such as gloves and boots when the bath or fumigation is going on.
- Do not use your hands or fingers to burst a tick, especially a visibly blood-engorged tick. By bursting the tick, you are spilling the tick’s eggs all over the place. These eggs will eventually mature and re-infest your dogs and your immediate environment.
- To remove a tick from your dog’s body by hand, dip a cotton-wool into a disinfectant or methylated spirit. Then gently (very gently) remove the tick into a small bottle-cap or bowl filled with the disinfectant or methylated spirit for at least 1 day before emptying.
- Be sure to check your dog regularly or at your leisure time for presence of ticks. Pay special attention to the ears and ear canal, the head and eyes, between dog’s toes and on the body trunk. These are places where the ticks are usually located. For hairy dogs, make sure you run your fingers against the direction of the hair to expose the underlying skin and expose the ticks, if they are present.
Have you had any experience with ticks? Comment and share it below. We would love to hear from you and also provide some professional advice.
Watch out for more information on ticks and fleas…