Domestic dogs commonly get infected by ticks which can transmit disease and can also cause a localised infection at the point of attachment, as the tick literally burrows into the dog’s skin. To effectively control ticks on your dog, it is necessary to understand a little about their life cycle.
The ticks most commonly found on dogs in Zimbabwe are the Yellow Dog tick (Haemaphylis leachi or eliptica) which transmits babesia canis (biliary fever) and Canine piroplasmosis; and the Kennel tick or Brown Dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineas) which also transmits biliary fever as well as other diseases. Dogs also get infested with other ticks.
Ticks spend most of their life cycle in the wild, attaching to the host to feed on blood. All active stages of the tick; larva, nymph and adult are blood feeders. Ticks can be classified into 1, 2 or 3 host ticks. Both the kennel tick and yellow tick are 3 host ticks. This means that each active stage (larva, nymph and adult) requires a separate host to complete the life-cycle. The disadvantage of this is two-fold; ticks are harder to control and the spread of disease can be rapid.
A mated female will attach to a dog and feed on blood. When engorged, she will drop off the animal, hide and lay up to 3000 eggs, before dying. The eggs remain in the environment until conditions such as temperature and humidity are right, when they will hatch and the larvae will wait for a suitable host. Some larvae (e.g. of the kennel tick) can survive for 19 months without feeding. This makes them very difficult to kill.
The larvae will feed, drop off and form into a nymph which in turn waits for a suitable host. The stimulus to attach to a host may be heat, movement or increased levels of carbon dioxide.
The complete life cycle can vary from 2 months to 3 years.
The only effective way to control ticks is while they are on the dog – i.e. the dogs ‘collect’ the ticks from the environment.
• For long haired breeds, brushing regularly will help dislodge ticks
• Ticks can be removed by hand or tweezers when seen, although care must be taken not to leave the head lodged in the skin.
• Powders and shampoos have limited use in toy breeds that do not go outside. Most have little residual properties.
• ‘Spot-ons’ or topical applications generally have a long residual period and are easily applied.
• Aerosol sprays such as SUPONA AEROSOL
• Regular dipping of dogs with an approved acaracide such as SUPADIP or TICKBUSTER DOG DIP especially in the warm weather. Most dips have residual properties.
• After dipping your dog, his bedding should be fully immersed in the left over dip and hung out to dry. This will kill any ticks hiding in the bedding.
REF: Handbook on Stock Diseases - Monning and Feldman