Tick Control: Prevention and Removal

Preventing ticks in the yard

Procedures to Create a Pet-safer Zone to Reduce Ticks in the Yard

Here are some simple landscaping techniques that can help reduce tick populations:

  • Remove leaf litter (ticks love moist cool spaces)
  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns
  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into yard
  • Mow the lawn frequently
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents which carry ticks)
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees
  • Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons and stray pets) from entering your yard by constructing fences, removing any uneaten pet food or garbage cans
  • Remove old furniture, mattresses or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide

Apply Pesticides Outdoors to Control Ticks

Use of acaricides (tick pesticides) can reduce the number of ticks in treated areas of your yard. However, you should not rely on spraying alone to reduce your risk of infestation. Apply tick pesticides to your entire yard concentrating on the shaded areas.

  • Check with local health or agricultural officials about the best time to apply tick pesticides in your area
  • Identify rules and regulations related to pesticide application on residential properties (Environmental Protection Agency and your state determine the availability of pesticides)
  • Consider using a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at you home
  • Applying pesticides yourself using products such as Siphotrol Spray, Annihilator Polyzone and Tempo. These products are available at the California Veterinary Clinic

Preventing Ticks on Your Pets

Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases. Vaccines are not available for all the tick-borne diseases that dogs can get (only Lyme’s is available), and they don’t keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, it’s important to use a tick preventive product on your dog.

Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. Signs of tick-borne disease may not appear for 7–21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.

To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pet:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors. Brushing your pet increases the possibility of seeing ticks and removing any unattached ticks. Plus, your pet will probably like the extra attention
  • If you find an attached tick on your dog, remove it right away safely not exposing yourself to the tick’s fluids
  • Ask your Veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam
  • Talk to your Veterinarian about tick-borne diseases in your area
  • Reduce tick habitats in your yard
  • Talk with your Veterinarian about using tick prevention on your pet

Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any insecticides or repellents to your cat without consulting your Veterinarian or a product is clearly marked safe for use for cats.

Killing Ticks on Dogs

Use a tick pesticide (acaricide) that can be used on dogs including dusts, impregnated collars (flea and tick collars), sprays, topical treatments and oral tablets. The following products and information on how they can be used can be obtained at the California Veterinary Clinic.

  • Oral: Bravecto, NexGard
  • Topical: Frontline (Gold)
  • Collar: Seresto
  • Spray: Frontline

How Will Ticks Affect My Dog?

Ticks attach to your dog by inserting their mouthparts into your dog’s skin. Many ticks also produce a sticky, glue like substance that helps them to remain attached. After attaching to your dog, ticks begin feeding on your dog’s blood. The places where ticks attach can become red and irritated and, if not cleaned and treated can lead to developing a “Hot Spot” skin infection.

Although rare, ticks can consume enough of your dog’s blood to cause a deficiency called anemia. Certain female ticks can also cause a rare paralysis in dogs as a result of a toxin they produce while feeding. More importantly, ticks are capable of causing many diseases in your pet. The diseases that ticks can carry and spread are Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and others. Both people and dogs are at risk to get these diseases from ticks they come in contact with. Some of the clinical signs of these diseases include lameness, swelling of lymph nodes, loss of appetite, fever, nose bleeds, as well as swollen, painful joints and lethargy. All of these diseases can cause serious complications and are potentially fatal without prompt and proper treatment.

If a dog with many attached ticks comes into the California Veterinary Clinic and receives an in-clinic test, it is found that 1 out of 6 are positive for Ehrlichiosis. Ehrlichiosis untreated in humans is 1–2% fatal.

How to remove a tick

  • Use a fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. If tweezers are not available protect yourself with gloves or a tissue
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing Alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • Continue to observe the spot for the next couple of weeks
  • Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, and identify and date it. Never crush a tick with your bare hands as you can expose yourself to disease causing fluids
  • Remove ticks as soon as possible as the longer the tick is attached the greater the chance of exposure to the spread of disease

Sources: “Ticks.” Pets & Parasites.  |  “Ehrlichiosis Forecast 2017.” Pets & Parasites.  |  “Preventing Tick Bites.” CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.