Reduce exposure and recommend treatment
Controlling the tick
Talk to your clients about how they can reduce the exposure of the dog to the Ixodes tick
that carries the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria - the actual cause of Lyme disease.
There is no one plan that fits every situation, but removing or reducing ticks from all the
areas possible, as well as the dog, is an essential parts of a tick-control strategy.
Ticks are very small, about the size of a sesame seed, making them very easy to miss during a
tick check. However, the slow transmission of the bacteria after the initial tick bite
creates a window of opportunity to remove ticks before the disease is transmitted. Even if
tick checks are done within the recommended 4-hour timeframe, they are often less than 100
percent effective because:
Ixodes ticks are very small, difficult to see and can easily be missed
- Tick checks are time-consuming, resulting in low dog owner compliance
- Dog owners often don't check for ticks if the dog has only been in the backyard - the
very place in endemic areas he is most likely to come in contact
If your clinic is in an endemic Lyme disease area, counsel clients to check daily, even if
they have not been away from home, because their dogs are still going outside in the
Treat the dog
A variety of different types of products are available for dogs. From sprays, dips and
shampoos, to flea and tick collars, there are hundreds of products on the market.
Clinic professionals can be prepared to recommend products, especially a specific topical
tick control product. They can also convey the reality to dog owners that none are 100
percent effective, but they are important in the mix of preventive tick control
- Sprays, dips and shampoos to help treat current tick infestations on the dog
- Topical tick control products can help prevent ticks on the dog
Treat the environment
Tick control needs to be aggressively pursued through environmental control of ticks in homes
and yards, especially in high-risk Lyme disease areas. Foggers and sprays for the house are
useful in controlling tick population. Spraying the yard, grass, fences, patios and dirt
areas with an ascaricide made for ticks helps reduce the number of ticks.
I. scapularis nymphs are frequently found along the edges of forests and spill out
onto adjacent vegetation and lawns in suburban settings.
- Reduce environmental contact with ticks by clearing brush away from yards
- Create a buffer zone around yards with stone walls or brick fences
- Consider proper use of ascaricides and insecticides on property
- Use sprays and foggers, or get professional help in getting rid of ticks inside homes,
kennels and other areas the dog frequents
- Realize these efforts are not 100 percent effective but are part of the total
Environmental control is difficult but reduction of areas where tick infestations have been
noted can be helpful in reducing exposure. Advise clients that their county extension agent
may be able to recommend a safe and effective environmental tick control product.
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