I hate ticks. Ticks are definitely on my “What was God Thinking?” list. I understand that they have some significance in the ecosystem, but I certainly don’t like finding them on my pets. Beyond the “ick factor”, ticks pose a serious health risk. They are responsible for the transmission of a number of serious diseases including Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Erylichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Living with pets puts pet owners at greater risk for tick borne disease as any pet that goes outside could carry an infected tick back to into our homes.
Tick protection is an important part of pet health care. The goal is to stop the tick before it has the chance to transfer disease organisms. We would like a product with a fast kill time or even more ideally, a product that repels ticks so they never set foot on our pets. The product must also be safe for the pet and the family members.
Developing such a product is easier said than done because ticks are hard to kill. They have a very tough outer covering made of a substance called chitin. Think about how difficult it is to squish a tick. Chitin gives them a natural defense against trauma and chemical penetration. In other words, it takes a strong chemical to control ticks and it takes longer for it to kill them.
Pharmaceutical companies continue to look for newer molecules to meet all of these goals. There are still a number of older products available over the counter which contain dangerous insecticides such as organophosphates and carbamates. These products tend to be very inexpensive and so they have a financial appeal. The problem is that they have been responsible for many pet poisonings and deaths. The EPA and the FDA are currently examining the adverse event reports and product labeling for all spot-on flea and tick products in order to better protect consumers.
Some pets have medical conditions or are on medications which need to be considered before selecting a product. Lifestyle is another important consideration. If your pet spends a lot of time in the long grass or bushy areas he will likely need more protection than a pet that rarely leaves the house.
There is no one perfect product for all cats and dogs, but there are many good choices. Talk to your veterinarian about safety and good options for your pet before applying a flea and tick product.