Let’s talk ticks first!
What many people don’t realize is that there are many species of ticks including those that live ALL YEAR ROUND. Flea and tick control, for that reason, should be continued even in the winter months. As Dr. Dryden (the world famous flea, tick, and heartworm authority) says, “the best way to treat tick disease is to never get it”. Once tick disease infects the body with the infectious organism, rarely is it ever eliminated from the body according to the newest research in humans for Lyme disease.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus, the brown dog tick, can hide in warm weather nooks and crannies for up to a year and can be found in kennels and carpets year round. It can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, babesisosis, hepatozoonosis-all diseases that affect the blood.
The American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) affects dogs, cats, and urban wildlife such as raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and squirrels which means these are probably in your backyard! This can result in diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia, and tick paralysis.
The Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) waits in bushes or low shrubs/blades of grass to hop on you or your pet as you walk by. Was in the southern U.S. but now in eastern 2/3rd’s of the U. S. . Causes ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia, rickettsiosis, heartland virus.
The Gulf coast tick has now moved north to Ohio and is another tick that waits on blades of grass/bushes to hop onto you or your pet as you walk by. Causes hepatozoonosis in the dog which is difficult to treat!
You must use tick protection that covers more than one type of tick. As seen above, we need to worry at least about these 4, if not more! Dr. Dryden feels that topicals in the dog are losing their efficacy against fleas and ticks so he recommends oral flea/tick protection such as Bravecto, Nexgard, or Simparica. Seresto collar is also a good choice. Bravecto topical solution is now available for both dogs and cats, as cats are affected by ticks, too! There is really no good “repellant” for ticks and you should check your pets daily after being outside or in from a hike especially the head/neck/ear area. Most ticks have to be present on the pet for 48 hours to transmit tick disease. Unfortunately there are no effective herbal products for fleas/ticks and taking a chance on using these to try and prevent the above diseases is not a good idea!
The above mentioned products are excellent flea preventatives as well as tick preventatives. Bravecto, Nexgard, or Simparica should not be used in pets that have seizures or other neurological disorders. Your veterinarian or our office will be happy to help you select a safe, effective flea/tick product for your pet. It is important to remember that with any flea product, it takes a good 3 months of treatment consecutively to eradicate fleas. Daily vacuuming or using a insect growth regulator such as Knockout Premise Spray in the home is also helpful as flea larvae/eggs live in the depths of the carpet and “awake” to jump on the pet. Once on the pet, fleas get a blood meal and have to remain there or they die without that blood meal from the pet. Garlic, brewer’s yeast, etc. have no evidence-based studies that show they’re effective.