The list of tick-transmitted diseases continues to grow: Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Cytauxzoonosis and Babesiosis. We can vaccinate for Lyme, but with the rest, we need to find other methods to prevent. The obvious solution for all these diseases is to control the ticks – but how?
With ten different tick species, all of which have different and shared wildlife hosts, trying to control ticks on your dog can seem impossible. The only common denominator all tick species share is that they will try to get on your dog if they are given the chance.
Are Ticks Spreading in the U.S.?
The increase in tick populations has been spurred by numerous factors. One of the factors contributing to this is the increase in white-tailed deer populations. Both species of “deer ticks,” the Lone Star tick and the black legged tick, prefer to utilize the deer for its host. As the white-tailed deer numbers increased, both tick species increased, which also increased the spread of Lyme disease. Other common wildlife hosts for ticks include wild turkeys, field mice, and most warm-blooded animals.
Warmer winters are another factor that is increasing the number of tick populations. With a lack in continuous cold days during the winter months, the tick populations are not dying off. They are able to survive and become a major issue for people and their pets during the spring and summer months.
Many tick species have been discovered in areas where they typically do not live. Migratory birds have been a big reason for the increase and spreading of tick populations to new areas.
An adult female tick can lay 1,000 to 6,000 eggs at a time in the environment, which hatch and become larvae. Larvae immediately search for their first blood meal – whether it’s you, your pet or another wildlife host. Larvae will then drop off, molt, and become nymphs. Nymphs can already transmit disease, and they will begin to search for another host, feed and molt into adults 100 times their original size. These adults then fall off and lay eggs, starting the life cycle again.
With all of these factors contributing to the increase and spreading of ticks, it is very important to take the steps to prevent them on your pet.
How to Prevent Ticks on Dogs
Since there are ten species of ticks in the US, and each one has a different host and life cycle, it’s obvious we need to repel and kill the ticks before they find a new home on your dog. K9 Advantix® II, Frontline® Plus and Fiproguard Plus are monthly topicals that kill ticks. All of these products are safe and effective. Collars for fleas and ticks have also been used successfully in some areas, including the Seresto® 8-month collar. Not all of these products are safe for use in breeding animals, so read labels carefully.
- There are 4 `oral tick and flea control products in the isoxazoline drug class. These include Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard and Simparica.
- Nexgard, Simparica, Simparica Trio, and Credelio as well as puppy Bravecto are given orally every 30 days. Bravecto adult is given orally every 12 weeks for optimal parasite control. For control of the Lone Star Tick, Bravecto should be administered every 8 weeks.
- Only Bravecto is labeled as safe for use in breeding dogs. Remember, a breeding dog is any dog intended to be including in your future breeding plans. Bravecto will give your dog nose to tail protection against fleas and ticks in a way the topical preventives cannot.
- The topical flea/tick control products can be paired with the oral preventives, sprays, shampoos and collars in times or areas of heavy tick infestations. Note that not all tick products are safe to use on sick, pregnant or infant pets so be sure to read the label.
If you jog with your dogs or take them hiking, camping, or just to the park, you should have a protective spray placed on their legs and tummy. By repelling the majority of pests, your topical treatment or collars will be more successful at preventing your dogs from bringing ticks and fleas home. Pyrethrin is a great choice and safe to use, and is found in products such as Adams™ Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo with Precor®.
Because every species of tick is intent on finding a home on your dog, control should involve more than one approach. By anticipating where the ticks may be and taking the necessary precautions, you’re one step closer to keeping your pet, and your home, tick-free.
If you need help developing a dog tick protection plan, call us at 800.786.4751.
Updated by Marty Greer, DVM.
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Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.