If Your Dog is Getting Bitten By Ticks, Your Preventive Measures are FAILING! | Blogs
Since I’ve been taking groups of dogs out hiking in the woods, fields and mountains these last seven months, the issue of tick bite prevention has become an important topic of discussion with my customers. This issue is far from “over” for the season as we’ve yet to have consistently low enough temperatures to put the critters into the deep freeze for a few months. Yesterday, I had a chat with Dr. John Flood of Brackett Street Veterinary Clinic, who has taken care of my Labs for ten years, about the subject and am sharing some of his answers to my questions.Frontline and Advantix are the two most common chemical tick protection products out there currently. Packaging recommends application every four weeks from April through November in our area of the country. Dr. Flood explains that ticks can’t see so they are attracted to your dog’s movement, body heat and carbon dioxide emitted as your dog runs through the woods, tall grass, etc. They jump aboard and, if your tick product is doing its job, you may find live ticks walking around on your dog or dead ticks on or around your dog, but you should NOT find ticks attached to and feeding on your dog. So...you’re using Frontline religiously every four weeks but your dog is still getting bitten by ticks, and by “bitten” I’m referring to fully-engorged ticks embedded in the dog’s skin that need removal via tweezers. These bites often leave a big, hard bump that’s present for weeks after removal of the tick. Why is this happening? “Your prevention method is failing,” says Dr. Flood. Frontline needs to be applied directly onto the skin at the nape of the neck and some vets recommend also applying a few drops half-way down the back and another couple of drops at the base of the tail/backbone for full coverage. Dr. Flood recommended keeping my dogs out of the water (swimming, baths, even rinsing with the hose) for three or four days after applying the chemicals, even though the packaging calls for only 24 hours. If you are doing all of this faithfully every four weeks and your dog is still getting fed upon by ticks, you need to step up your prevention efforts. With your own vet’s approval and input, you may try applying the product every three weeks instead of four or switching from Frontline to Advantix or vice-versa. Dr. Flood also recommended that I add use a tick-prevention collar such as Preventic on my dogs, since they are out in the woods several times each week. There are also a few natural/homeopathic products available locally at places like Planet Dog and Fetch and Sooper Dogs that you can add to your prevention regimen. Earth Animal makes a product that’s sprinkled on your dog’s food called Internal Powder. Containing ingredients that are claimed over time to make your dog an unfriendly host for ticks to feed upon, the product builds up in your dog’s system and works from the inside. Earth Animal also makes another spray-on product that contains neem oil and other natural ingredients that help keep ticks from feasting on your dog. The goal is to use just enough preventives to achieve the desired outcome of NO tick bites on your dog EVER. Dr. Flood explains that in order to transmit the dreaded Lyme disease, an infected tick actually needs to feed on your dog’s blood for quite a long time -- several hours. So, checking your dog for ticks after outings in the woods and fields is imperative as well. Removing live ticks and disposing of them properly should be part of your prevention efforts, for sure. Whether or not to have your dog immunized against Lyme disease is a personal decision. Ask your vet to educate you on the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision BEFORE taking your dog out into tick-infested areas. Personally, with two Labs and a very active lifestyle that involves enjoying all of the wonderful open spaces, mountains and walking trails in our area, I choose to immunize my dogs, apply Frontline faithfully and will now be adding Preventic collars as well. I also use the Earth Animal topical spray on all of my canine hikers and my own dogs before every outing. It’s also important to protect yourself from ticks. Always tuck your pant legs into socks or boots to prevent ticks from crawling up your bare legs and always check yourself or each other for ticks just like you do for your dogs after outings. If your dog is allowed on furniture or beds in your home, check these as well as your dog’s own bed diligently for ticks often! Empty vacuum cleaner bags into a sealed, plastic bag and dispose in your outdoor trash after cleaning rugs, bedding, etc. I’ve also found it helpful to mark my calendar with a reminder of when the next tick preventive treatment is due. This way, if I find a tick feeding on my dog before the time for the next application, I’ll have a good idea of how to spread out my next set of applications. **This article is not meant to offer professional advice nor to present comprehensive information about ticks and/or Lyme disease but rather offers personal experience and information as a dog owner and dog business owner. Consult your vet to develop a plan based on your own personal needs and lifestyle.