Friday, June 06, 2008

Tick Season

Tick season is here again in Northeastern Minnesota, and Savage has been doing his best to collect as many as possible. For as long as I can remember, ticks weren't seen here often, but in the past two years the dog tick population seems to have exploded, probably due to mild winter weather. Because of the scarcity of true deer ticks in our immediate area, Lyme's disease is not one of my main concerns, though the entire state's Lyme's infections hit record numbers last year. Just the experience of plucking a tick off of Savage or (heaven forbid!) finding one crawling on myself is enough to make me shudder.
We have around 13 species of ticks in Minnesota, but the most encountered ones are American Dog Ticks (or Wood Ticks), Brown Dog Ticks (or Kennel Ticks), and Deer Ticks (or Black-Legged Ticks). In any instance, I try not to examine them that carefully, but I'm positive that the ones that we are dealing with on an almost daily basis are American Dog Ticks. They are found in fields and underbrush, using carbon dioxide, scent, body heat, vibrations,etc. to locate a suitable host. They are known as "three-host ticks" because each stage of their lives: larva, nymph, and adult: uses a different host and their life cycle usually takes two years to complete. According to my research, American Dog Ticks are carriers of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (a bacterial illness), and tuleremia (also known as "rabbit fever"), but apparently these diseases are very rare in Minnesota.
I have never treated Savage with any commercially available tick/flea preventative such as Frontline or K9 Advantix, or any sprays, dusts, or flea collars, because of the possible adverse reactions. The Evironmental Protection Agency oversees the sale of all pesticides in the United States and their website has a fact sheet on flea and tick control products if you would like more information.
I have always believed that a poison designed to kill a living organism, no matter how small, cannot be good for dogs, either. Therefore, Savage and I will be experimenting with natural tick prevention this summer. Last year I boiled lemon slices and fresh rosemary to spray on him to control black flies, and it seemed to work pretty well. I've read that apparently this is helpful for repelling ticks, also. The only problem we have with the lemon/rosemary mixture is that he wouldn't tolerate the spraying, so I had to rub it on him with my hands.
American Dog Ticks are considered generally active between April and June, so maybe we will be lucky and get through the next month without encountering too many of the disgusting little parasites.


  1. Anne said...
    We have terrible tick problems in southern Florida too! All the dogs at the dog park are literally crawling with them -- and the males are tiny little black specks that look like a flake of pepper. We couldn't survive without Advantix, so I just hope that it's enough poison to kill the bugs and not enough to harm Booker. He is allergic to flea bites, too, so yesterday he had a steroid shot, which finally brought him some relief and we ALL got to sleep through the night.

    Savage is gorgeous! What a cool color coat - I've never seen one before.
    HawaiianDane said...
    Great read Paula! I have actually been contemplating about going holistic for Huey too - not using any more OTC flea products like Frontline Plus. It seems overall more healthy for the dog. I am going to have to try a batch of the lemon/rosemary spray. Ticks & fleas in the tropics are bad too since they never have a winter to kill them off.
    Anne said...
    Hi! decades ago I lived in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. At the time we had a gorgeous long hair german shepard named Kaiser. He was a great dog, dedicated protector and much loved. My dad was transferred to England in the late 70's, though, and we opted to rehome Kaiser, rather than put him in quaranteen. It was a sad decision, but he actually went to live at the warehouse of the pharmaceutical plant where my dad had worked - his new job was to keep the round-the-clock guards company. Good luck with your move to Hawaii! I have to find photos of the dogs from my past and post them on Booker's blog ...
    L Dew said...
    Try rubbing some diotamaceous earth on Savage :) that is a good way to get rid of the tickers...

    I actually do use frontline but I use 1/2 the dose. it works, i havent found any ticks or fleas.
    Biggie-Z said...
    We use frontline. I'm not crazy about it, but fear of Lyme disease, which is prevalent in our area, and Biggie's furrinesss mean that it is still the lesser of 2 evils.

    FYI - tick removal made easy: cover the entire tick with petroleum jelly and wait a few minutes, the tick will release its hold and then you can wipe it off pretty easily.

    As you can see, I am slowly reading through your blog too.

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