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 Tick Control - Questions and Answers

Ticks can be a deadly menace, affecting many different types of pets. Knowing the enemy is the best tool. Below are some of the commonest questions asked about tick control.

Can all ticks cause paralysis?

There are two types of ticks that affect dogs. The less dangerous type is the Brown Dog Tick. It does not cause paralysis but can cause skin irritation and sometimes has other effects.

The paralysis tick is the dangerous one, and it's not easy to tell the difference.

When is the paralysis tick season? Ticks can be present throughout the year, but generally, the worst time for tick paralysis is in spring and early summer.

How can I tell if a tick I have found on my pet is the Paralysis Tick?

Identifying ticks is not easy and you can't rely on the colour. The legs of the Paralysis Tick are located on the front third of the body while the Brown Dog Tick has legs positioned around two thirds of its circumference. If you don't mind looking at its private parts, the Paralysis Tick has a more definite "ring" around its anus whereas the Brown Dog Tick's equivalent area is less distinct.

What effect does the paralysis tick have?

 The paralysis caused by the tick mostly starts with an unsteady, staggering gait due to hind limb weakness. The front limbs are affected next and then the throat. Lastly and fatally, the chest if affected.

Dogs also develop a gurgling, choking cough and are unable to bark properly. This is caused by paralysis of the throat, which in turn causes the dangerous effect of saliva being retained in the windpipe.

Quick treatment is vital. Even dogs that are slightly weak in the hindquarters in the morning can be gravely ill by that evening.

How can I find ticks on my pet?

It is easier to feel for ticks than to look for them. Mostly, the ticks are found around the head, neck, chest and front legs, with many exceptions.

How do I remove a tick if I find it?

Research has confirmed that it's best to get the tick off the pet's body as soon as possible.

You can purchase Tick Twisters from your veterinarian or pet shop or view this link for more details.

How do I remove the head of the tick?

This is a fallacy. Ticks don't have heads! The concept probably extends from the fact that a dog or cat can become paralysed several hours after a tick has been removed because of the slow spread of the toxin from the skin to the nervous system.

Can I prevent ticks from getting on my pet?

There are several ways to minimise tick infestations and new products are being released reguarly.

Check with your veterinarian for current recommendations but he following is a useful guide.

Firstly, there are specific tick collars that are available. Virbac makes one under the name of the Preventic 2 Month Tick Collar and Bayer makes another called the Kiltix Tick and Flea Collar for Dogs.

Permoxin Insecticidal Spray and Rinse is also effective for ticks on dogs. It should be applied as a rinse every seven days. Permoxin also kills and repels fleas and mosquitoes.

You should not use any of the above products on cats.

For cats and dogs, Frontline is a good choice. Frontline Plus is effective for ticks on dogs if used every two weeks (not every month). Frontline Spray is effective for ticks on dogs and cats if used every three weeks at the rate of six millilitres per kilogram of weight. If you find a tick on your pet, you can spray Frontline directly onto the tick to kill it.

Proban is an oral insecticide that is quite effective against ticks on dogs but needs to be used every two days rather than at the flea-controlling dose of twice weekly. Some veterinarians also recommend Proban for ticks on cats at 1/4 of a tablet every two days. A liquid version is also available. Because Proban is an oral medication that is excreted via the pet's skin, it gives tick control over the whole of the pet's body. When using sprays or rinses, it is possible to miss some areas, thereby allowing ticks to attach. This does not happen with Proban.

 

Editors note:- Proban is no longer available commercially.

Fido's Fre-Itch Rinse is also effective for ticks and fleas if the dog or cat is rinsed in it every three days. Fido's is useful when your pet has been in a tick area and you want to bathe it to kill any hitchhiking ticks.

In tick prone areas, it is essential that your pets are searched daily for ticks. If this is done routinely, you can then eliminate tick paralysis because the tick usually has to be on the animal's body for more than two days to cause paralysis.

Ticks are nasty little varmints. Take no chances. Talk to your veterinarian about an effective tick control programme for your pets.