Whole Dog Journal's Blog January 3, 2012

It’s Always Tick Season Somewhere…

Posted at 01:51PM - Comments: (18)

And it’s peak tick season where I live right now. The ticks are so bad in some of the areas where I typically walk Otto and Tito (formerly Peanut) that I just have to avoid those trails for a few months. Otherwise, even with the dogs wearing a fresh application of Advantix and me spending a feverish hour when we get home going over them with a fine-toothed comb (literally – I use a flea comb), I end up finding one or two latched onto Otto, engorged with blood. It’s always Otto, too; Tito is small and his coat is short; I can find even the tiny deer ticks on him easily. But Otto is large and his coat is thick and wiry; the ticks can hide from even my flea comb rather easily.

Once upon a time, I used to think ticks were just gross -- and of course painful for the dog. But I’ve become increasingly aware of the number of people who have been infected with Lyme disease from tick bites – and in just the past year, newly aware of the tick-borne diseases that dogs can get from tick bites.

Lots of veterinarians today are using SNAP 4Dx tests – an in-house blood test that can detect heartworm infection as well as infection with canine anaplasmosis and canine monocytic ehrlichiosis. Both diseases are caused by organisms carried by ticks. All of the tick-borne diseases have the ability to lie dormant for months and even years in a dog’s body, in what’s called a sub-clinical stage, until something (age or another illness) reduces the effectiveness of the dog’s immune system, and allows the infection to suddenly bloom into a chronic stage of active infection and illness. Allowing ticks to bite your dog means opening the window to possible infection with one of these difficult-to-treat diseases.

Because of this, and because our locals trails are so infested with ticks, I do use pesticides on Otto and Tito, in addition to assiduous post-walk grooming and inspections, and avoiding the most-infested trails. I’ve heard about numerous less-toxic preparations that can help ward off ticks – but I’ve never heard of any remedy that works as well as the commercial spot-on products against ticks. But surely I haven’t heard of EVERY remedy – and anything that’s effective that I could add to my tick-protection protocol would be welcome.

What do you do that really works against ticks?



Comments (18)

I live in N.C. and I have 2 pups same age, same litter, one black one white. The white pup gets 10 times more ticks than the black. I check them daily and this is a fact. I kept thinking that maybe I was missing but usually if missed within 24 hours there will be a full one, but I'm clearly not missing them so at least in our case the white vs black dog and ticks, I think there's something to it. By the way I forgot to mention that the only place the black pup gets the ticks is on her white spots, or very close to them. Its very odd.

Posted by: MizMac | June 9, 2015 12:02 AM    Report this comment

And as to color - I had a solid black German Shepherd and she got plenty of ticks, and my current German Shepherd is mainly black and he gets as many ticks as his lighter friend. So at least for the deer tick, color does not seem to matter.

Posted by: 376NYC | July 3, 2013 5:21 PM    Report this comment

I live in the northeast so ticks are a problem here. Had recent success with a spray - Dr.B's Pet Peeve Plus. Also good results with the sprays from Wondercide.com.

Posted by: 376NYC | July 3, 2013 5:16 PM    Report this comment

Farm Dog Organics makes a great Tick Away Spray with a unique, all natural blend of essential oils in a skin safe base. It really works great as a deterrent and is very safe for dogs.We spray our dogs before letting them walk in woody areas. it is also people safe.

Posted by: betsy123 | January 4, 2012 10:38 PM    Report this comment

About the dog color thing, I am reminded that small white dogs like my Buddy (bichon frise) were originally bred to be lap dogs of royalty and ladies of the court in order to attract fleas away from the human and onto the poor dog. The color must be significant.
I don't have much problem here in Arizona with ticks (thankfully), but I'd like to chime in with Jeanette and the Poodles (above) and say I have had great success in deterring fleas using an after bath rinse of essential oil of LemonEucalyptus and Lavender (a couple drops of each mixed with a small amount of Epsom Salts and water -16oz). Since using, we haven't seen one single flea. I think essential oils are very powerful, must be used sparingly as they are very strong, but seemingly effective.

Posted by: Becky and Buddy | January 4, 2012 6:58 PM    Report this comment

I use frontline but not regularly. I used to stop in the late fall but this year 2 of my dogs have gotten ticks just walking around my suburban neighborhood, not hiking or in the woods. One is white, and my b & w dog has been bitten around her neck, which is where she is white. The color theory is interesting! I will definitely begin the frontline again in the spring this year, and be vigilant until then. I have used garlic tabs from a company specializing in them years ago, and never thought it did much good in repelling ticks. But they do fall off when I've used frontline.

Posted by: kimfatty | January 4, 2012 6:31 PM    Report this comment

I had 3 golden retrievers that all died of cancer within a span of 2 years, so with my current golden retriever (Max) I decided to limit the amount of chemicals to which he is exposed. I have had him on Garlic tablets for over 5 years and at most find 1-2 ticks on him in any given YEAR. I find this incredible given that with my other goldens (who were on Frontline) I would find 2-3 EVERY DAY we took a walk during heavy tick season.

Before anyone reacts about garlic being toxic to dogs, please look at the most current data. I found in my research the toxicity referred to large amounts of raw garlic, not garlic powder. I use garlic tablets from a reputable company that has clear directions on the number to give.


Posted by: nanook | January 4, 2012 5:40 PM    Report this comment

Yes there have been studies and scientists have found that ticks are attracted to white and lighter colors. When they are censusing a tract they drag white sheets. Seems like everyone here is paying attention! FWIW since we became parents I hike in freezing and burning hot weather. That's when I don't see ticks and feel safe to hike, near NYC. We don't use any spot-ons. So I LOVE freezing days when I am able to hike.

Posted by: Sarahj | January 4, 2012 5:35 PM    Report this comment

Oh, I forgot to mention that I also use Natural Defense as a repellant in addition to the Advantix. I think it does help. I try only to use it at the worst exposure times so as to reduce the build up of resistance to the product. I also give a brewer's yeast/garlic supplement daily during the flea/tick season.

Posted by: PJKutscher | January 4, 2012 3:24 PM    Report this comment

This past year I switched from Frontline to Advantix because the fleas especially seemed to have develped a resistance (here in North Central KY). Still, the ticks are a problem at times and on our walks I can suddenly find both dogs(one long hair, one shorthair) crawling with ticks so I've started carrying a pair of tweezers and a small bottle of alcohol to pluck and dispatch the ticks when I notice them. I do still go over them after the walk with a flea comb in case I've missed any but this regimen mostly takes care of the freeloaders. It is a hassle but it is better than finding blood-loaded latched on ticks later. My dogs know now that when I say during our walk--"oops, ticks" that they should stand still and I'll get them off. My Sheltie mix especially hates to feel ticks on her and if I notice she is bothered by something, usually I find a tick crawling on her--she is very sensitive to their crawling on her fur. The Boston is fairly oblivious to them but at least they are easy to find in his short hair.

Posted by: PJKutscher | January 4, 2012 3:20 PM    Report this comment

I now use Scalibor protector band 6 month tick protection for dogs .
Since I got it November 2011 I have not seen or removed any ticks from my dog or the ones I walk that use it.
I purchased this from our vet. We live in upstate New York and when the acorns are poor on the oak tree I have noticed increase in ticks. More dogs are Lime disease positive due to this increase. Mary

Posted by: Mary T | January 4, 2012 11:49 AM    Report this comment

Love this article!!
We have a tree farm in Arkansas. Arkansas is known for ticks. My husband has gotten Erlichosis and so has the neighbor's dog. That's how we identified Harold's illness. I use Frontline which will kill them after they bite so I spend much time picking off the ticks after a walk in the woods. I have a tan long-haired Chihuahua and white Papillon. Zorro the Chi can have 50 ticks to the Paps 20. However, Zorro checks out EVERYTHING where has the little female Pap dances her way through the forest.
Desperate to cut down the tick population we noticed a buffalo farmer who did not have ticks. He put diatomacious earth in their wallow. Diatomacious earth (hope I spelled it corrrectly) is safe if you use the coded bags. We've definiteloy seen a drop in ticks or an especially light year for ticks since using it. Harold spreads it on the trails they walk.
I was delighted to hear of the other safe treatments and intend to add those to the doggies the next time we go to Arkansas. THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE and a big thank you to those who responded.
Hope this in continued so I can learn more.

Posted by: Marcia H | January 4, 2012 11:44 AM    Report this comment

I have been using the SHOO Tag for ticks and I have had great success with it for my Collie and my little short haired mix. While it doesn't eliminate the ticks from attaching completely, it has cut down the number significantly, and I find that they don't burrow down in the fur and attach as quickly so we can usually get them on the tick checks because they tend to be on top of the fur and usually on the head. I wasn't sure at first if it was really making a difference (thinking maybe by some strange circumstance we were having a light year) until I switched collars that did not have the tag and saw an increase immediately. I live in CT where ticks (and Lyme disease) are almost a constant, my Collie boy is sensitive to anything with a strong smell (no matter how much desensitation/counter conditioning we try and can not tolerate chemicals (yes, this boy has taught us so much about organic foods and holistic living...bless his heart....my greatest teacher ; )

I've been using the Shoo Tag since March and now,would not be without it. Thankfully, we don't have fleas to contend with so I can't attest to the tag for fleas but whole heartedly endorse the one for ticks.

We take precautions as well, there are areas where we hike that at certain times of the year the ticks are more prevalent and we steer clear and choose other spots not so infested or that have tall grasses etc.


Posted by: Diane A | January 4, 2012 10:46 AM    Report this comment

In Repsonse to Susan - interesting. I find ticks on my golden retriever way more often than my black lab. I thought maybe it was because of the longer hair but perhaps your right and it is color.

Posted by: bethhrsn | January 4, 2012 10:28 AM    Report this comment

I use the original Adams Flea and Tick spray. The Advantix will kill the flea and tick after it has already bitten your dog - but your dog still gets bitten. Adams Flea and Tick spray repells fleas, ticks and mosquitos far from your dog - you won't even find one on your dog. If by chance there is a flea/tick/mosquito that does still decide to land on your dog, they are dead before they have the chance to bite. You spray it on your dog and rub it into their coat once a week and after a bath. I live in Central NY and we have alot of ticks - deer ticks and other ticks. The only time I find a tick on my dog is if I have forgotten to spray her in a few weeks. The original Adams Flea Spray is a pyrethroid spray and has no has no residual effect. Adams isn't making this formula anymore but still is making the water based formula. I will not use the Adams Flea & Tick Mist with Precor as the Precor is an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). Don't trust the long term saftey of an Insect Growth Regulator for me or my dog. Wish Adams would bring back the original Adams Flea and Tick spray - I have used it since 1981 and have only one bottle left.

Posted by: callahan93 | January 4, 2012 10:12 AM    Report this comment

My little white dog does get ticks. I use a homemade lavender/rose geranium spray. I used an Insect Shield bandana for dogs (www.insectshield.com/work/Insect-Shield-Bandana-P75C19.aspx) -- she only wears it outside. These generally work "ok."

When the ticks are terrible, I used Frontline (but not since she has become frail and elderly). I check her over daily and usually can get them before they are embedded. She was treated for erlichia a couple months ago. We live in Central America where there are ticks, fleas and other parasites 24/7 and 365 days/year. It is a never ending challenge.

Posted by: Carolyn M | January 4, 2012 10:00 AM    Report this comment

I have 3 standard poodles - ages 12, 5 and 2 - and any product that advises me to protect myself when I apply it to my dog will definitely never be used. I make sure my dogs eat good food, do titer tests in place of booster vaccinations, and make sure they get lots of exercise for their bodies as well as their minds, so why would I put some harsh chemical on them every month that will more than likely cause some horrible problems further down the road. I use an essential oil spray to which I add a couple drops each of Palmerosa, Geranium and Lemongrass oils. As long as I am diligent about using the spray before we go walking in the woods, we have never had ticks attach themselves to the dogs. When I forget, we can count on finding a couple of engorged ticks in a few days. I live in Southern Ontario, Canada and the ticks here carry lyme. I have never used spot on products for fleas and don't want to start now. JMHO. Jeanette and the Poodles

Posted by: Jals | January 4, 2012 9:36 AM    Report this comment

We use Frontline spray (not topspot) and go over the dogs before we leave the wooded area. It seems to work so far. Knock on wood it stays that way.

There is a strange question I have. We currently have three dogs. All the same breed. All eating the same food and going to the same groomer (me). All relatively the same size (7.5 to 8.5 lbs.). The number of ticks we find on the white dog after a walk will be 10 times what we find on the red dog which has 5 times what we find on the black dog. It is not that we miss ticks on the black dog because we go over all three very carefully and we do not find swollen ticks on her on subsequent days.

Speaking with others around here it seems to us that ticks are attracted to white animals (deer bellies?) more than brown/red (deer bodies?) and way more than black. Has anyone else experienced this?


Posted by: Furrykids | January 4, 2012 9:23 AM    Report this comment

New to Whole Dog Journal? Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In