My dog is currently infested with ticks

James Glover
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QuestionMy dog is currently infested with ticks, we have tried everything from tick prevention shampoos to injections,tick collars and removing the ticks by hand. Please suggest appropriate measures to get rid of these ticks asap. (Vanya Bisht - India)

Answer

Ticks can be troublesome, especially in the summer and fall months. It is almost impossible to prevent ticks from climbing onto your dog and attaching, as most ‘repellant’ products like shampoos and tick collars do not work very well.

The best way to prevent ticks is to keep your dog indoors and don’t let them spend too much time in ‘high risk’ areas. ‘High risk’ areas include forests, grassy areas and shady areas covered in pine needles or mulch.  Keeping your dog leashed while outdoors and primarily on paved roads or sidewalks can help prevent exposure. Keep time in ‘high risk’ areas to a minimum, brush your dog and examine for ticks when you enter back into the house. Unless you live in a very urban area surrounded by concrete- avoidance can be very difficult.  It can be impossible for dogs that live outdoors or in rural areas.

A few products out on the market can help keep ticks off (repellants) and also kill ticks once they bite the dog:

  • Repellants such as Adam’s Flea and Tick spray can be used daily on your dog’s coat to help prevent ticks from crawling on. This spray can be purchased online, at pet stores and through your veterinarian’s office.  It is inexpensive but requires re-application frequently. It also is not waterproof and users give mixed reviews regarding its efficacy.
  • One of the better tick collars on the market is the Preventic collar (made by Virbac Animal Health). This tick collar repels ticks extremely well.  It is effective for three months and does not need to be used with another tick product like a spray or Advantix. If your dog likes to swim frequently or gets wet often, be sure to remove the collar. It does not work very well after being submerged. These collars can be purchased online and through your veterinarian. These collars are more expensive than regular ‘grocery store’ varieties but they are more effective, safe and last much longer.
  • Advantix for dogs (made by Bayer) repels and kills ticks and is also an effective flea preventative.  This product is very safe and is applied directly to the skin once a month. It should not be used on cats or in households with cats, as it is VERY toxic to our feline friends.   This product can be purchased online, at pet stores or through your veterinarian. It is more expensive than the sprays or tick collars, but is much more effective and takes care of fleas too.
  • Frontline Plus (made by Merial) is a safe, trusted flea and tick product that is applied directly to the skin once a month. Frontline kills ticks but is not as good at repelling them as Advantix. This product can be purchased online, at pet stores or through your veterinarian. It is more expensive than the sprays or tick collars, but is much more effective and takes care of fleas too.

If you choose to use the Preventic collar or a topical like Frontline Plus or Advantix, this is the only product you should use. Using too many chemicals at one time can cause skin irritation and potential for allergic reaction. 

As you can see, there are many options available for tick prevention that will fit any budget.  If you have further questions, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about which one is right for your dog.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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Added on Feb 10th, 2014
I had a major tick problem last year for the first time ever. I agree about Preventic collars being a great option, it was the ONLY thing that worked for me. An advantage to the collars is it kills all the ticks on your dog in the first 24 hours. After that, when a tick crawls on them they don't attach to the dog and fall off and die. Within a week my tick issue was resolved. I have seven dogs and board dogs also so it was a nightmare having an infestation. I bought all my collars from Amazon (I bought 24) for about $12 each. I waited about 8 months to replace them since I haven't seen a tick.