Ticks and Fleas

Don’t Be Ticked Off About Ticks

Ticks are familiar to many of us in Arizona, where they are found year-round in most of the state. They can be especially numerous and pesky after seasonal rains. Ticks perch on the leave of vegetation, extending their front legs – a behavior called “questing” by biologists – then grab our clothing and our pet’s fur as we brush by them. Having claimed their host, they “drill” into bare skin using a specialized mouthpart with tenacious beak-like projections. If left alone, they can stay locked tight for days, until fattened up on a blood meal. Other types of ticks live in nests, burrows and caves and, like fleas, feed from their hosts for brief periods of time.

The worst news about ticks is that they transmit a huge variety of pathogens to pets and humans. Just one tick can pass on disease agents that cause Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Babesiosis and Tick-borne Relapsing Fever. Most important to dog-lovers is Ehrlichiosis, also know as Tick Fever, which is spread by the Brown Dog Tick, which is the kind of tick we find most often in Arizona. Ehrlichiosis causes a destruction of red and white blood cells resulting in severe anemia and immune system collapse. Left untreated, it can be fatal to your dog.

Prevention is our number one defense against this adversary! Effective preventatives, safe and easy to use, are available now to keep your pet tick free. AAGI recommends Frontline or Preventic collars for your greyhound, no substitutions with “look-alike” products. Frontline is an oil that is applied monthly to the skin between the shoulder blades. Each application kills ticks for one month and fleas for 3 months. If you have problems with the Frontline pooling between the shoulder blades, the Merial representative offers the following tip: Apply the Frontline in a thin strip, starting at the back of the head and working down the neck to between the shoulder blades.

Preventic collars kill ticks for up to 3 months and are a bargain. Clinical studies have proven them to be as effective as Frontline for tick control, but remember, they have no activity against fleas. Also remember that other brands of flea/tick collars are essentially useless. You can use a flea/tick collar until the day you see a flea or tick, then it’s time to get serious. Since the Preventic collar must remain in close contact with the skin to be effective, it is necessary to secure it around a greyhound’s throatlatch area (just underneath the jaw and behind the ears), so that it doesn’t slide up and down the neck like his regular collar. Instead of cutting off the excess, you may use a paper hole punch to punch holes, then secure the loose end with a twist tie.

Tick dips have residual activity for as long as a week. All incoming AAGI greyhounds are dipped with Paramite Dip, which is the best, most effective way to quickly kill ticks. Use dip to gain control of a tick infestation, then follow in 2 days with either Frontline or a Preventic collar.

Shampoos and sprays have no residual activity. They kill what is on the dog at the moment, but ticks will jump back on the very next day. Shampooing is useful to get a dirty dog clean, but is a lot of work for 24 hours worth of flea/tick control. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how long to leave the dog lathered before rinsing off the shampoo – it’s common to find live ticks on freshly shampooed dogs.

Sprays are useful to apply before taking your greyhound to a place where he may be exposed to ticks, such as Petsmart, a dog park or large AAGI events. We encourage adopters to spray their new greyhound before taking him home to avoid seeding the new home with any “hitchhikers.” AAGI recommends Adams shampoos and sprays – these pyrethrin products are greyhound-safe and are available in the adoption center.

If you are finding ticks on your dogs, I recommend spraying your yard with Dursban every two weeks until no more ticks. Spray grass, bushes, wood siding, everything. Several companies sell a Dursban yard spray in a bottle with it’s own hose-end sprayer for around $15 (ask your vet) – just attach to your hose and spray – no calculations, expensive spraying equipment, or measuring of chemicals required. Once you own the hose end attachment, you can buy cheaper Dursban refills at Walmart or Kmart and just pour them into the spray bottle. Far easier than mixing pesticides and packing around a heavy pump sprayer.

Make it a daily habit to check your pet for ticks hiding in the fur, ears, between the toes and other easy to miss places.

Don’t forget, as racing greyhounds your pet has likely been exposed to ticks. Talk with your veterinarian about checking for Ehrlichiosis, which can be done with a simple blood test. Symptoms might not show up for years.

Fleas: Adams shampoos and sprays are also effective against this less common pest. Remember to spray the bedding and areas where your greyhound sleeps.