Deer ticks are notorious for their ability to transmit Lyme disease to humans and canines alike. Typically, an individual deer tick will only bite and feed three times during its life span of two years. Ensure your dog isn't a deer tick's next meal by taking the proper precautions.
Topical anti-tick applications come in liquid form that you apply to your dog's skin and coat. The most common anti-tick chemicals are permethrin, fipronil and amitraz. Permethrin is toxic to cats, so it's not the best option if you have cats and dogs living together in your home. When using a topical anti-tick application, purchase a spray or liquid that's appropriate to your dog's weight, and follow all instructions on the package. Typically, topical applications are sprayed or applied to the dog's skin between the base of her neck and the middle point of her shoulder blades. Don't apply the preparation anywhere your dog could lick it off her skin or fur. Don't apply topical applications to old or sick dogs, or to puppies under 8 weeks old.
Anti-tick collars are treated with solutions that both repel and kill ticks. The solution transfers to your pet's fur from the collar, and you don't have to apply the anti-tick preparation directly to your dog. For example, the Preventic collar by Virbac comes saturated with an oil-based solution of amitraz. Deer ticks cannot attach to a dog when amitraz is present, as the solution paralyzes their mouth parts. An amitraz-saturated collar should also kill any ticks that are already attached to your dog. Collars are not suitable for puppies younger than 12 weeks, and the amitraz solution may be removed by bathing.
Tick Prevention Without Chemicals
You can reduce the risk of deer tick bites by making your home environment inhospitable to ticks. Deer ticks like to gather in dark, humid areas of the garden -- remove piles of leaves and wood to remove the ticks' preferred habitat. Keep grass cut short, and consider spraying grass with an insecticide to kill or repel deer ticks. Lastly, keep deer ticks out of your environment by keeping deer out -- fence your property against deer. As mice can carry Lyme disease -- and transfer the disease, via deer ticks, to your dog -- clear out any outdoor areas that might provide an appealing habitat for mice.
A dog with sensitive skin may become irritated by anti-tick collars or topical applications. If an application or collar really bothers your dog, give her a bath and consult your vet to discuss alternative tick prevention measures. When applying a topical anti-tick solution, do not pet or touch the dog's fur until the solution has dried. Particularly in small dogs, there is a risk of permethrin overdose or poisoning if too much of the chemical is applied or absorbed through the dog's skin. Symptoms of a permethrin overdose include seizures, loss of coordination, diarrhea, vomiting and drooling.
- Tick crawling on human skin. image by blindfire from Fotolia.com