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Tick Prevention in Dogs: Which Products Provide Protection from Ticks and Which Don’t

by Vetic Editorial
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Why Do You and Your Dog Need Protection from Ticks?

Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of a host. The host can be a dog, cat, cattle, horses or even goats! Protection from ticks is very important because they are very common in tropical and subtropical climates like that of India. 

While feeding on dogs, ticks can transmit several diseases that are broadly called tick fever. Tick fever can mean ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and hepatozoonosis. In addition to these diseases, ticks also release toxins that harm dogs. 

Tick bites also cause skin wounds that often lead to secondary bacterial infections in the warm and humid climate of India. 

Does Your Dog Have Ticks?

The only way to confirm if your dog has ticks is to do a thorough physical check. Regular professional grooming also helps since trained and experienced groomers always know where to look for ticks and signs of bites. 

Protecting your dog from ticks entails checking your dog regularly for ticks. Here's an infographic on where to check your dog for ticks - Neck (under the collar) Around the eyes Ears Under the tail Between the Toes Under the legs

Most ticks have their “favourite” feeding spots. If you are thinking about doing an at-home tick check, you should check the following areas on your dog –

  • Neck
  • Head
  • Shoulders
  • Pubic region
  • Ears (inner section as well)
  • Under the tail
  • Under the paws (between the digits)
  • Armpits

Run your fingers down their skin and feel for bumps. These bumps can be ticks or tick bites. If they are tick bites, you may notice a small red spot where the tick has fed. In case you are unsure if a bump is a tick bite or you find ticks on your dog, you need to speak to your veterinarian for your dog’s tick fever blood test. 

Which Dogs Are More At Risk of Tick Infestations?

All dogs can get ticks since these parasites can live without feeding for weeks in nature and they can travel on our clothing, shoes and bags. 

Keeping your dog indoors at all times is not the solution to the increasing tick problem in India. 

However, dogs that spend more time outdoors, including parks, fields and common doggie pools are more at risk of tick infestations. 

How to Protect Your Dog From Tick Bites?

With the scores of tick powders, sprays, collars and spot-ons available in the market, it is indeed difficult to choose the correct product. 

Your choice of tick protection for your dog will depend upon multiple factors –

  • Your dog’s lifestyle
  • Your dog’s age and weight
  • Dog’s overall health
  • Your budget

Protection from ticks: What options are available in the market?

Tick prevention for dogs - the complete guide by Vetic veterinary services. it includes a table of the different common tick repellents and killing agents, their mode of application, nature of action. the chemical components and their actions are as follows - Fipronil is a topical solution that doesn't repel ticks. Permethrin repels ticks and it is available as spot-on solutions. Isoxazoline is a chewable tablet that doesn't repel ticks. Propoxur is an insecticide that kills ticks upon contact but doesn't repel them.

  • Tick collars 
  • Oral medication 
  • Spot-on solutions
  • Tick powder and sprays
  • Tick shampoos

Tick collars for Protection

Tick and flea collars available in the market can prevent the attachment of ticks. While buying a tick collar, you must ensure that you are buying the right size and the collar is completely in touch with your dog’s skin. 

  • Your dog should not lick or chew the collar. 
  • You need to replace the tick collar periodically.
  • If your dog goes swimming (even with their waterproof tick collar) you may need to replace it more frequently.

Speak to your veterinarian if you want to use tick collars for your dog. These are medicated collars and your veterinarian will be able to determine the exact size of the collar and the type of tick collar as per your dog’s age, lifestyle and weight. 

Oral Medication for Protection from Ticks

The most popular and common tick medications or oral preventatives contain isoxazoline. They do kill ticks very fast, but they do not repel or prevent tick bites. 

All oral preventatives in the global market boast a rapid kill time, but they require a tick to bite before the compound can kill the tick. 

Oral preventatives do not repel ticks. 

Spot-on Solutions for Protection from Ticks 

Spot-ons for dogs can have various compositions. The two types of dog spot-ons for ticks and fleas include –

  1. Permethrin
  2. Fipronil

So, which spot-on repels tick? 

Any spot-on containing permethrin repels ticks. However, spot-on solutions containing fipronil do not repel ticks or prevent them from attaching onto your dog. They can only kill ticks once they have bitten. Fipronil spot-ons for dogs may take longer than 24 hours, which is enough to transmit disease-causing microbes into the dog’s bloodstream through tick bites. 

Do dog tick protection sprays and powders repel ticks?

NO! Tick powders mostly contain propoxur and tick sprays contain fipronil respectively as the main active ingredient. 

It is IMPERATIVE that your dog or pup doesn’t lick the powder or spray at all. Propoxur and fipronil are highly toxic, and you must take protective measures to ensure the products do not come in contact with your dog’s eyes, nose and mouth.

These compounds do not repel ticks or prevent tick attachment. They can only kill the ticks already present on your dog’s body. It can take 24 hours or more for these compounds to kill the parasites. So, using tick powders and sprays for dogs do not prevent tick bites.

Do Tick Shampoos Provide Protection from Ticks?

Tick shampoos, whether herbal or powdered by chemicals, do not repel ticks or prevent tick attachment. Much like the tick sprays and tick powders, they can only kill the parasites already present. 

That being said, sprays, shampoos and powders work well when there is a tick infestation on the dog or puppy. When there are multiple ticks and you need quick removal, you can always use a product that’s safe for the pup or dog’s age and health status. 

You have to be positively sure your dog or puppy does not lick the shampoo while they are bathing with it!

What Should You Do If You See a Tick on Your Dog?

Protecting your dog from ticks also includes removing ticks safely from your dog's skin. this is an infographic by Vetic that illustrates the 3 steps to remove ticks from dogs - Slide Tweezer Under the Tick Grip The Ticks as Close to The Mouth as Possible Pull Away From The Bite Site Steadily

Okay! So, we are here to help you prepare for whatever comes during pet parenthood and that includes finding a tick on your pupper. 

Once you spot a tick on your dog or pup, do not try to grab it with your bare hands. 

Use a clean pair of tweezers (and, please, dedicate it as the “tick tweezer” of the household) and remove the tick carefully. Make sure the tick’s mouthparts do not stick into your dog’s skin when you pull it away. 

Part your dog’s hair so the tick is clearly visible. Slide one appendage of the tweezer or tick remover under the tick and grab the tick as close to the mouth as possible. Keep pulling the tick upwards, without any sudden jerks and it will come off intact without detaching the mouthparts. 

Do not yank at the tick or burst it open on your dog’s skin. Drop the tick in a small container of sanitiser or 70% alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl alcohol). Wrap it in tissue and flush it down to hell where it came from!

If you spot multiple ticks, it’s time to book a veterinary appointment. The veterinarian will likely recommend a medicated bath that can result in the instant removal of all ticks and other products that will prevent further infestations. 

Should You Get Your Dog Tested for Tick Fever?

Yes! If you have noticed a tick on your dog, speak to your veterinarian about a real-time PCR tick fever panel. 

Tick fevers can be devastating for all breeds of dogs of all ages. However, when detected early, dogs with tick fevers can go into remission quickly and without any serious toll on their overall health. 

Refer to our article on Tick Fever in Dogs for a more detailed understanding of the different types of tick fever, their signs, diagnostics and treatment options. 

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