Ticks are nasty. After mosquitoes, they are the most common disease-carrier in the world. You may have heard of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but those are just the terrible start to a long list of diseases.
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What is a tick?
Most are small, about the size of a sesame seed. In their mature phase, they have eight legs (they’re actually arachnids, not insects). Ticks are blood-sucking parasites, and their purpose in life is to find a host (you or your dog) to attach themselves to and feed. They will slowly balloon until they’re full of blood and then fall off, but by that time they may have caused an infection and/or lay eggs under the skin. Not a pretty situation.
So if you find a tick on yourself, on your pet, in your yard, or in your home, you definitely want to deal with it swiftly and resolutely.
How to Get Rid of Ticks in a Home
If you find a tick or ticks in your home, chances are that it’s a brown dog tick. The good news is that this type of tick rarely feeds on humans. The bad news is that just like all pests, the appearance of one usually indicates the presence of many.
Brown tick control in your home usually requires some sort of chemical treatment of key areas. These areas include all cracks and crevices, baseboards, and the meeting point between floors and walls. Close attention must be given to pet areas, particularly animal bedding. All furniture should also be steam-cleaned. These chemicals are usually applied in spray form, available from your local pet, garden or hardware store.
There are also foggers, which release chemical agents everywhere. Some have time-release mechanisms that will continue killing for several weeks. As with any chemicals in the home, be sure to read instructions very carefully and thoroughly ventilate your home after application. An indoor tick infestation may require repeated applications or foggings since ticks can hide for a long time without feeding.
If all else fails, consider contacting a professional pest removal company. They should know exactly what to do about a tick infestation and how to keep them from coming back.
How to Kill Flea Lice and Ticks
Fighting household tick infestation also requires treatment of the pet that brought the unwanted guest in. There is a great variety of sprays, shampoos, collars, and dips that are effective at both killings and staving off ticks from your dog. Newer products include highly effective topical repellants. Don’t balk at the expense of recommended brands such as Frontline and Advantage. Flea and tick treatment side effects include toxic reaction, which is more common with cheaper knock-off brands.
Most products are effective not only against ticks but also against fleas and lice, which are other parasites that pose less of a health threat than ticks but are just as unwelcome. You can compare flea and tick treatment online or by asking a knowledgeable pet store worker. The best product to kill ticks is the one that has worked for other people in your situation.
If you’re concerned about the toxicity of many recommended treatments, as many people are, you may choose to hunt for a natural flea and tick treatment. Be careful. There are some grand claims out there that things like garlic can not only keep away but actually kill things like ticks and lice, without much proof to back it up.
The one natural solution that does appear to work is diatomaceous earth or DE. It is actually a type of chalk-like rock that can be bought in powder form. This should not, however, be applied to the animal itself. Rather, it is used to treat areas where the ticks inhabit or travel. Although it is “natural,” it does pose its own health risks and should be used carefully.
How to Remove a Tick from a Dog
The recommended methods are actually the same regardless of the animal. You or your dog, it doesn’t matter. You’ll be tackling the problem in the same way.
First, let’s go through what not to do. Do not simply yank the little critter out in a fit of disgust. When the tick is feeding, its head and mouth are actually buried beneath the skin. Yanking it out carelessly may leave the head and mouth inside and dramatically increase the chance of infection. Most experts also advise against using some common methods such as alcohol, petroleum jelly, nail polish, or heat. You may have also heard that you can get rid of ticks naturally with salt. Another no-no. All of these methods may actually cause distress in the tick and increase their release of toxins and bacteria into your skin. That’s exactly what you don’t want.
OK, so how do you do it? Take a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick as close as possible to your skin. Then you pull it out slowly but firmly straight back so that the head does not snap off inside. Wash the bite area very carefully to minimize the risk of infection. You also need to dispose of the tick properly, which doesn’t mean simply throwing it in the trash can. It may simply crawl out and resume its meal. Flush it down the toilet or burn it. You may also want to wrap it up and put it in the freezer because if the disease develops, doctors can help much better if they have the little critter that gave it to you or your dog.
Getting Rid Of Ticks For Good
Once you have removed the ticks from your dog, what you need to do next is keep them from coming back. Of course, you can never be 100% sure that there won’t be a tick problem ever again, but there are certain precautions you can take that will greatly eliminate the threat of ticks.
There are numerous powders, shampoos, and sprays on the market you can use to help repel ticks. However, many of them contain chemicals that can ultimately affect the health of your pet. It would certainly be a bad idea to merely get rid of one problem while introducing a new one. Therefore, it is very important to check out the ingredients carefully before you use them.
Ticks are serious business. If your caution and methods of prevention don’t work and you find yourself with an infestation on your hands, or if you find just one tick behind little Fido’s ear, do the right thing. Learn what you need to in order to deal with the problem effectively.