Tick prevention

I searched and was surprised to find no threads on this. I’m curious to find out what people are doing to protect their animals from ticks.

We used to use the skin drop Frontline Plus (trademark symbol? :laughing: ) on our dog Lucky. The good thing about that stuff is it has something to kill insect eggs. The bad thing, at least in Lucky’s case, is that the little bastard won’t sit still long enough for us to apply it well. It’s got to go in one spot and directly onto the skin, not onto the fur. After two or three times of making an oily mess of his scruff, we switched over to the spray Frontline.

The good thing about the spray is that Lucky and Scout don’t squirm and contort themselves as much when we put it on. Unlike the drop, we can give them a really even application that protects their ankles just as well and as long as it does their bodies (the drop stuff takes a few days to get to the lower legs and is not effective there for as long as the rest of the body). The spray also seems to be effective for longer than the drop. Even when we did the drop well on Lucky, ticks would start showing up after three weeks. With the spray, we haven’t seen ticks even when we’ve been a week late applying it. I see two drawbacks for the spray. We have to keep them dry for three days before and after application as opposed to two days for the drop. Also, the spray stuff, at least here in HK, does not have the same chemical as in Frontline Plus that kills eggs. For Lucky and Scout, the egg thing doesn’t seem to be a problem.

There’s one thing that I’m curious about. Our vet is very worried about ticks on dogs here in HK and has seen a good number of dogs die from tick fevers and other nasty tickborne diseases. As in Taiwan, the tick reproduction cycle is year-round here. Anyway, the vet asked us to use not only Frontline, but also a tick collar with Amitraz in it. He doesn’t sell the collars. He suggested putting the Frontline and the collar on two weeks apart from each other so that the dogs will still be protected when the efficacy of one of these measures starts to taper off after a few weeks. I asked him if it would be bad for the dog to be exposed to two different kinds of chemicals and if the two products had ever be tested together. He was honest and said that he knew of no proper studies that tested both products together, but that he thought that the benefits far outweighed any possible problems that could be caused by combining the two. I really trust this vet. He has always been really honest with us and has always told us when he wasn’t 100% sure about something. He seems to be very well respected among foreign vets and foreign trained Chinese vets here in HK (sorry, I don’t bother with the locally trained guys). They all know his name. He was originally trained in Burma and then did his BVSc and MVSc in Oz. I’ve never had a reason to doubt his judgement. Until…

The wife and I went to San Francisco for CNY. Knowing that our dogs would be upset if we didn’t come home with presents for them, we had a look in one of the larger pet stores there. Since tick collars with amitraz are a bit hard to find in HK, we asked the shop owner if she had any. That drew a big frown. “We don’t carry those and nobody uses them anymore! They only protect the area around the neck and the chemicals are too strong. It would be better to use something like Frontline.” I then told her that we already use Frontline and that our vet had advised us to also use a collar for added protection. That drew an even bigger frown. “That’s way too many chemicals to have on a dog’s body. That would definitely be bad for them.” I then explained to her that the tick cycle in HK is completely uninterrupted and that the drugs available for treating some of the harsher tick fevers are damn hard for HK vets to get. “The tick cycle in San Francisco is also 365 days a year.” Uh, I don’t think ticks bread as steadily in SF as they do in the tropics…

OK, so who should I believe, the unqualified shop owner in the US or the HK based member of the ACVS and RCVS? So far, spray Frontline every 4 weeks has proven effective. No ticks fall off of the dogs after we spray them, so it seems that the Frontline alone is providing enough protection. Do they really need any extra protection, and would the combination of chemicals be really bad for them? Is the danger from ticks in tropical areas really much greater than in cooler places? What are you doing to protect your animals?

Gustav gets ticks for about eight months out of the year. We haven’t found any preventative solution that doesn’t involve constant application of really strong chemicals. We just check him thoroughly for ticks every day (when they’re in season) and remove them as we find them.

I use frontline and think it’s a great product.

Well, I can add my opinion, but it’s only an opinion and only based on my own experiences and beliefs and a little of what I’ve read on the matter.

I’m opposed to any chemicals going on or in my pets unless absolutely necessary, though I see tick-borne-disease prevention as a necessity - I have seen two dogs die from tick-related illnesses.

Now, there is a field near my house where my dogs and cat can run around to their hearts’ content, but last summer, I would be removing up to 40 ticks per day from each dog (ticks do not pass on diseases within the first 24 to 48 hours). Obviously, this could not continue, so I used the Frontline spray every four weeks and it worked pretty well.

But I grew concerned about all those insecticides on my dogs, so I decided to try a more natural remedy that had worked previously when we lived elsewhere and the dogs were getting just a few ticks: garlic.

Now, the reports on garlic as a naural tick remedy are very mixed, but it worked. As long as the dogs were getting garlic every day, we found no ticks on them (but, at first, several on the walls, escaping the pungency, perhaps).

There are also mixed reports about how safe garlic is for dogs. Well, I did a lot of research and found the actual study that showed that a clove of garlic a day can be dangerous for a small dog (under 5 kg) but with no ill effect on larger dogs. So, I went back to giving them a clove of garlic a day, either whole, or crushed in with their meat, and the ticks disappeared.

So, if your dogs aren’t tiny, why not give that a try? Also, as you’ve probably also found, dogs fed a natural diet don’t seem to have a problem with fleas, and I notice you haven’t mentioned that as being a problem. I’m a great believer in diet as great preventive or treatment for many ailments and problems, so garlic is a great choice for me.

I would tend to believe that putting too many chemicals in or on your dog, especially overlapping, would not be good for the animal.

Hope that helps!


You can GREATLY reduce the number of ticks on the body by simply checking between the dog’s toes as soon as you get back home. There’s little hair in there and they’re not yet attached, so you can just wipe them off with a bit of paper towel. Of course it won’t stop all the ticks from travelling further but it will make a very big difference. I gurantee it.

Sandman’s an expert; he almost never got ticks at school, right, Sandman? :wink:

Agreed - You have to check between the dog’s toes (from above) and it’s pads (from below). Check the dew claws (eqivalent of thumbs) if your dog has them. Another physical measure is a flea comb. Use a coarser comb first and then the flea comb - use both combs both with and against the lie of the dog’s hair. A flea comb can be used even more effectively while you are washing the dog.

I kill ticks by putting them on a tissue, folding the tissue paper over and crushing the tick-and-tissue sandwich between my fingernail and a hard surface. In this way, the blood is absorbed by the tissue instead of spashing around.

All this gets very time comsuming if you have several dogs :s

I would go with the American on this one. These collars have been discontinued right. This decision was based on the fact that the chemicals were too strong. I would not use the collars at all but certainly not in combination with other chemicals. Just have to keep picking away at the little buggars. Use tweezers. Is it cool in San Fran?