Tick control

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By 2017-04-09

Drs. Foster & Smith Inc.
Race Foster, DVM

Tick control is not unlike that used for fleas in that there are no shortcuts, no sure cures, and the battle must be on-going. Tick control is a two-step process, in that measures must be implemented to treat both the environment and the pet. Ticks, despite all their legs and ugliness are not hard to kill.

Reduce ticks in the environment

Tick control in the environment generally involves removing tick habitat. Removing leaves and clearing brush and tall grass from around the house and kennel areas can help reduce the number of ticks.

Because rodents, deer, and other animals can harbour ticks, it is important to control these animals as well.

Remember the cold, frosty fall weather does not kill ticks, and in fact, that is when the deer tick numbers are at their peak. In Northern, Wisconsin, the best time to contract Lyme Disease is during September, October, and November since the deer tick is the primary carrier. The point here is that environmental control needs to continue into the fall and early winter.

The Brown Dog Tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus is the most troublesome tick in kennels and yards and is found almost

everywhere. It can complete its life cycle in about two months, and although uncommon, it can become established indoors. If you do encounter an indoor tick problem, then use a flea and tick fogger. Fog as you would for fleas. In the house, ticks tend to crawl to a higher area (like they do in grass). They may be found in cracks around windows and doors. Because of this tendency and the fact that ticks crawl, and do not jump or fly, another option is to apply a 1-foot barrier of insecticide such as a flea and tick powder where the carpet meets the wall around the entire room. As a result, ticks moving to the walls to climb higher will come in contact with the insecticide and be killed. And, finally, remember to wash the pet's bedding regularly.

Tick control on your pet

Keeping pets out of grasses and woods helps to reduce their exposure to ticks. But any animal outside can quite easily have a tick crawl on board. Perform a "tick check" on yourself and your pets after returning from being outside.

Products that kill and repel ticks are often needed. Products for pets are many and varied and include once-a-month topical products, sprays, powders, dips, shampoos, and collars.

Permethrin should NOT be used on cats. Instead, use a product containing pyrethrin, imidacloprid, or fipronil.

Once-a-month Topicals: Once-a-month topical insecticides are applied to a small area on the back of the pet, are probably the easiest product to use, and generally, last the longest. Some kill fleas and ticks, and others just fleas, so check the label carefully. Ingredients generally include permethrin, pyrethrin, imidacloprid, or fipronil. Examples of these products include Bio Spot-Spot On for Cats, Bio Spot-Spot On for Dogs, K9 Advantix II for Dogs, and Frontline Top Spot. Revolution, which contains selamectin, is a monthly topical product that controls American Dog Ticks (Dermacentor variabilis) only.

Sprays: Flea and tick control sprays can come as aerosols or pump bottles. When using a spray, you do not have to soak the pet with the spray, but be sure to spray all parts of the animal. Spray a small amount on a cotton ball to apply the product around the eyes and ears. Do not get any of these products in the eyes. Follow your veterinarian's and the manufacturer's directions on how often to spray, and spray in a well-ventilated area. Sprays often contain permethrin (use on dogs only, not on cats) or pyrethrin.

Note: Most cats prefer the pump bottles, since the hiss from the aerosols may sound too much like the hiss of another cat. If you are going to use an aerosol spray on a cat, it may be helpful to spray a cloth with the product (away from the cat), and then rub the cat with the cloth.

Powders: Powders are generally easy to apply but can create a mess. If you or your pet has asthma, powders may not be the best choice of product since the powder could be inhaled. Be sure to use powders in well-ventilated areas. Powders often contain pyrethrin.

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