How To Protect Your Dog From Tics

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This article considers insect-related dangers for dogs – I will discuss parasites and protective means, as well as their composition and effects.

Tick-borne encephalitis and borreliosis are not dangerous for dogs and cats, the latter do not suffer from these diseases. For them, ticks are primarily dangerous because of piroplasmosis (babesiosis), the infectious disease. And ixodid ticks (Ixodidae) are infectious agents. 

The risk of tick-borne infectious diseases exists everywhere (urban parks, roadsides or your backyard lawn). The highest number of ticks is registered in spring – from April to early July and in Fall – from September to November. Traditionally, ticks prefer high grass, shrubs near water bodies, undergrowth, abandoned fields. and weedy meadows. They wait for their victim sitting on grasses and shrub twigs at a height of no more than 60 cm from the ground. Ticks are less likely to be encountered in dry pine forests with sandy soil or in areas without grassland vegetation. They are most active in the morning and evening. The risk of being attacked by these bloodsuckers during the day is reduced in hot weather and during rainfall. 

Prevention. Tick protection for dogs

According to this source, tick protection can be divided into 2 groups: 

  • Repellents that have a deterrent effect; 
  • Insecto Acaricides that cause death (of parasites).  

To date, the majority of products is represented in 5 types – these are flea & tick drops, collars, sprays, essential oils, as well as insect-acaricidal protection from ticks in pills.  

All the acaricides are not absorbed into the blood, they affect a tick in a contact way, dissolving in the fat layer of the dog’s skin, and partially paralyzing the tick. Hence, the basic rule of application of acaricides – not to wash a dog with shampoo 2/3 days before the treatment and 2/3 days after that. Do not apply the product to wet or damaged skin. 

There are also piroplasmosis vaccines – Nobivac Piro (Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health, Netherlands) and Pirodog (Merial, France), though, their main task is not to prevent piroplasmosis but to reduce the number of deaths from the disease. Vaccination is carried out every 6 months, does not replace the treatment of dogs with acaricides. 

Means of protection against ticks differ by active substances, terms of efficiency, and toxicity. 

Currently, the most effective are the 2nd generation pyrethroids: permethrin (Advantix drops (BAYER), Vectra 3D (CEVA Santé Animale), Effitix (in the composition of permethrin and fipronil) (Virbac). 

In addition to permethrin, other second-generation pyrethroids are used in tick products:  

  • Deltamethrin (Butox 50 spray, Scalibor collar); 
  • Fipronil (droplets of Frontline, Fiprist, droplets of Mr.Bruno plus)  
  • Flumethrin;  
  • Cyphenothrin (Mr.Bruno extra drops) and Pyriprole (Prac-tic drops). 

The safest medicines for both humans and animals are permethrin and fipronil. Permethrin is distinguished by its high rate of impact on ticks, as well as both acaricidal and repellent effects. Its disadvantage is the susceptibility to decomposition in sunlight and the fact that it is quickly washed out from the fat layer of the skin (these disadvantages are also typical to fipronil). 

Notice that permethrin is dangerous for cats, so if you have both a dog and a cat at home, applying permethrin-containing protective means should be extremely careful – if it’s in drops, do not allow the dog to come into contact with the cat immediately after treatment. Permethrin collars should not be used at all.  

Tetrachlorvinphos drugs have been banned in Europe since 1982 as carcinogenic. The resistance of ticks to diazinon is proven, as it is actively used for processing fields and farm animals. 

For greater efficacy, it is possible to combine different methods of protection if their active ingredients do not coincide. The combination of collars, droplets, and sprays should only be used if recommended by the manufacturer or veterinarian. The active ingredients of the medication accumulates in the hair follicles and may cause an allergic reaction. The beginning of the treatment should not coincide which is why it is necessary to differentiate the use of, e.g. drops and a collar for 5-7 days. Then, in case of allergic reaction of the dog to the means of protection, it will be easier to determine the cause, provide effective assistance to the dog and exclude the use of inappropriate medication in the future. Dogs prone to allergies are not recommended to unreasonably change their protective means in order to have an “alternative” if the allergy appears.  

If your dog walks a lot in the sun and often bathes in water, it is necessary to shorten the period of time until the next tick treatment (e.g., to use tick drops every 2 weeks).

Protective means

Tick drops. The active ingredient, after application of the drops, is distributed over subcutaneous fat, accumulates in the fur follicles and oil glands of animals, and is gradually released, scaring off or destroying ectoparasites. The pipettes should be bought strictly according to a dog’s weight, applied directly to the skin, and avoid washing the dog for 3 days before and after the treatment. The effect will be seen in 3-5 days after first use. Always carefully read the instructions to anti-tick products, considering weight, a guaranteed period of protection, dog’s age, pregnant and feeding female dogs. 

Collars. The only plus of the collars is that they are valid for 5-7 months. Dogs must wear it without removing. The main disadvantage is that the active substance is released from the collar, and it is extremely difficult to ensure the collar is in constant contact with the fur and skin of active dogs. In addition, the effect duration, claimed by the manufacturers, “relaxes” the owners, creating an illusion that there is no need for additional actions to protect their dog from ticks. Constantly check your dog and use additional means to ensure a repellent effect! The collar starts to work 2-3 days after the beginning of use. Examples: Foresto (Seresto) and Kiltix (Bayer), Scalibor Protector Band (Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health, the Netherlands).

Pills. Tick pills appeared in the veterinary product market in 2015. This is Bravecto from MSD Animal Health (active ingredient fluralaner), Frontline and NexGard from Merial (active ingredient afoxolaner). The expiration dates stated by the manufacturers are 12 weeks for Bravector; Frontline and Nexgard – 4 weeks. The mechanism of action of both means is to block the receptors of arthropods, hyper-excitation of neurons, the impaired transmission of nerve impulses which leads to paralysis and death of ectoparasites. Both drugs should not be used for puppies under the age of 8 weeks and weighing less than 2 kg. In the gestation and lactation periods, Bravecto is allowed to apply, Nexgard is recommended to use under the supervision of a veterinarian. 

The main advantage of pills (provided they are effective) is that the active ingredient does not lose its insecticidal-acaricidal properties when a dog is for a long time in the sun and with frequent water procedures (remember that permethrin and fipronil are washed out of the fat skin layer and decomposed in sunlight). Pay attention to the dosage, taking into account the weight of the dog. At the same time, it is not allowed to break and split pills for the right dosage selection.

Sprays. The point is in spray repellent (deterrent) action. The smell disorients a tick, not allowing it to quickly cling and giving you a “head start” to detect it. When treating a dog with a spray, it is necessary to apply it to the entire fur, including the ears (it is common for the Bavarians to walk “nose to the ground”, their ears are a special risk zone), face (covering the dog’s eyes), and belly. Acts immediately after application. This feature allows you to protect your dog in 2-3 days after washing, before applying the drops, and 2-3 days after, before the effect.

The protection duration and frequency of repeated processing are in the manufacturer’s instructions. Animals should not be allowed to lick off the medicine until the fur is totally dry, so do not let them near an open fire or heating devices.