Battling Ticks

2023 is adding up to a banner tick season in many part of the U.S. A mild winter, wet weather in some areas and climate change all contribute to the the northward march of ticks and the diseases they carry. In addition to Lyme disease, Babesiosis is showing up in new areas, spread by the same deer ticks that spread Lyme. It can cause fever, chills, sweats, fatigue, muscle and body aches, headache, loss of appetite and nausea. It can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including anorexia, nausea and dark urine.

Prevention works best for humans who are advised to:

  • Stay on cleared trails and minimize contact with leaf litter, brush and overgrown grasses, where ticks are likely to be found.
  • Minimize the amount of exposed skin. Wear socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck your pant legs into the socks. Wear light-colored clothing, to make it easier to see and remove ticks.
  • Use tick repellents that contain DEET on your skin and clothing.
  • After being outside, check your body for ticks and remove any that are found.
  • Remove ticks from clothing and pets before going indoors. Remove ticks as soon as possible, by using pointed tweezers. Grab the tick’s mouth close to the skin, and slowly pull the tick straight out until the tick lets go.

But what about man’s best friend? An attempt can be made to keep dogs out of the woods and away from long grass but it’s hard to stop your best friend from rolling around on that grassy patch. That’s why preventatives are preferred and many tick medications are teamed with flea protection as well.

There are many different products for controlling fleas and ticks and all of them have pluses and minuses to be considered. There are pesticidal soaps, shampoos, dips, rinses, sprays, powders, collars, spot-on pesticides applied to the skin and long-acting oral medications which require a veterinary prescription. Treatment will vary by the age, health, lifestyle and habits of your dog. What works best in your area for your dog can best be determined consulting your vet.

Chewy says “popular brands include Comfortis, Advantage Multi, Simparica Trio, Revolution and Credelio, but there are others that may uniquely suit your situation. Many come as once-a-month topicals or chewable tablet doses for easy use.”

Long-acting oral medications fed to the dog have become increasingly popular. The medication is ingested and the active ingredients spread systemically through the dog. When a tick bites the dog, it ingests some of the active ingredient and dies. This parasite-killing action generally lasts about a month. These products are available by veterinary prescription only.

Name/ MakerEffective ForActive IngredientsFrequencyYear ApprovedMinimum  Age/Weight
Fleas, ticks, demodex*FluralanerUp to 12 weeks20146 mos/4.4 lbs
Fleas, ticksLotilanerMonthly20188 weeks/4.4 lbs
Fleas, ticks, demodex*AfoxolanerMonthly20138 weeks/ 4 lbs
Fleas, ticks, demodex*, scabies*, ear mites*SarolanerMonthly20166 months/ 2.8 lbs
Simparica Trio
Fleas, ticks, heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, demodex*, scabies*, ear mites*Pyrantel, SarolanerMonthly20208 weeks
/2.8 lbs

In March 2023 New York Magazine’s Strategist listed Simpatico Trio and Braveto as two of the best oral, chewable treatments for fleas and ticks. There are advocates of many natural products as well but for most people, simplest is best. Once you get your dog on a monthly schedule with an oral medication it’s easy to be consistent with treatment.

These products are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In some cases dogs may have an adverse reaction to the medication. Keep track of any adverse reaction your dog may have such as diarrhea, vomiting or lethargy and let your veterinarian know. Pet owners can report an adverse effect by a pesticide on their pet by calling the NPIC directly at (800) 858-7378 and filing a report over the phone.