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Ticks, Fleas and other Parasites

Very often dogs are bothered by "uninvited guests". But ticks, fleas and other parasites are not only very unpleasant, but also can carry and transmit dangerous diseases.

Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that can pierce your pet's skin with their mouths and cement themselves into position to prevent easy removal. Ticks are a risk to pets, but can also infest other animals - and humans too. The tick season is mainly in late spring and autumn. As soon as temperatures are rising, ticks are gathering in grass and shrubs, waiting for any warm-blooded creature to come along. These blood-sucking parasites are more than just unpleasant, they can also transmit dangerous disease-causing pathogens in their saliva.

Ticks are obligatory blood-sucking parasites that spend most of their life off the host and leave the host following the meal. Hard ticks require one blood meal during each instar in order to molt to the next instar.  Each instar usually feeds on a different host species. Adult females must have a blood meal to mate and produce eggs and may consume 50 times their weight in blood. Adult males of some species do not feed. Soft ticks are similar but may have more than one blood meal per instar. Hard ticks are chiefly parasites of mammals. Most ticks, about 650 species, belong to this taxon.

Important to know for transfering diseases to dog are mainly the following types: Castor bean tick / Forest tick (Ixodes ricinus), die Bush tick / Marsh tick / Scrub tick (Dermacentor reticulatus) und die Kennel tick / Brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).

If you find a tick on your pet, most importantly is the immediate removal. Prior to that, it is also important to prevent our pet from being bit. For this, we prefer products that do not contain any poisonous ingredients. As none of these products can guarantee a 100 % protection we've decided not to use any toxic products. There are nontoxic spot-On products, sprays as well as untoxic collars. In case our pets are bit anyway, we use homeopathic remedies after the removal.  

See also: www.dogsandticks.com

DISEASES

Ticks can cause a variety of problems, some of them with serious consequences for dogs. At the very least, the physical presence of the tick is uncomfortable for your pet and can lead to a skin reaction or abscess where the tick is attached - particularly if the mouthparts are left behind when a tick is removed. But the problem doesn't end there, as ticks can also carry diseases that can be transmitted to your pet.

It is important to check your pet regularly for ticks. Carefully check every part of your pet, particularly around the head, ears, legs and paws.

It is possible that your pet may have had a tick attached without you noticing, particularly in the wiskers or eye brows. So watch out for any of the warning signs, which could indicate a tick-borne disease. If your pet shows any of these signs, contact your vet immediately: fever, lameness, loss of appetite, sudden onset of pain, arthritis or swelling in their joints, lethargy or depression, cough. If you recognize symptoms that come back repeatedly, this might be a sign for an infection.

We will now introduce you to the following diseases: borreliosis, babesiosis, canine ehrlichiosis, tick-borne encephalitis and hepatozoonosis. Leishmaniose is a very serious disease. It is not transmitted by ticks, but by mosquitos.

Die Borreliosis (Lyme-Disease)

Lyme Disease or Borreliosis is an illness transmitted by ticks that can affect humans, dogs and cats. The corkscrew-shaped Borrelia bacteria carried by the Ixodes ricinus tick can cause Lyme Disease or Borreliosis. The disease is appearing more often, and in more locations, therefore every pet owner should know and be able to recognise its symptoms. The following symptoms can indicate that a pet is suffering from Lyme Disease: painful or stiff muscles and joints, tiredness, fever, lack of appetite, (sometimes) sudden collapse.

Transmission

For a nymph to transmit B. burgdorferi, it must be attached to the host for 48 hours. If a tick dies or is removed within this 2 day period, transmission of the bacteria will not occur. Even if a tick is a carrier of B. burgdorferi and it attaches to a dog for more than 48 hours, the dog may not contract the disease. In fact, studies show that only around 10% of dogs that are exposed to B. burgdorferi will contract the disease. There is no evidence to suggest that infected dogs pose a risk to other members of the household except as a reservoir of infected ticks. Once a tick has had a full meal, it will detach and not bite another mammal. The risk comes from ticks that have not gotten a complete meal and are detached. They could possibly seek out a human and bite them causing infection. Other types of ticks and insects have been shown to be infected with B. burgdorferi, but they are considered insignificant spreaders of the disease. 

Symptoms 

The symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs differ from those in people, and usually occur much later after the tick bite. Clinical illness in dogs usually occurs 2 to 5 months after initial exposure and the likelihood of disease and the severity of the disease seems to vary with the animal's age and immune status. Cats can develop Lyme disease, but it occurs rarely in them, even in endemic areas. Other domestic animals such as horses have contracted Lyme disease, but it does not appear to be a significant problem. Dogs show several different forms of the disease, but by far, the most common symptoms are a fever of between 103 and 105°, shifting leg lameness, swelling in the joints, lethargy, inappetence, and maybe most importantly, response to appropriate antibiotics. 

Arthritis may be a result of both short- and long-term infections. Most dogs that are promptly diagnosed and treated do not appear to develop arthritis, but a few dogs who do not respond completely to treatment or were not treated will develop progressive degeneration of the infected joints.

A few dogs have developed severe progressive renal disease as sequelae to Lyme disease. This severe kidney failure is non-responsive to treatment and death is often the outcome. Fortunately, this form appears to be rare. 

Usually, dogs will not develop any rash or the circular area of redness around the bite (erythema migrans) which is seen in people.

Diagnosis 

Blood tests are available to assist in the diagnosis of Lyme disease. The standard blood test detects antibodies made by the dog in response to infection with B. burgdorferi. Because of the lack of sensitivity of the blood test, many dogs show positive test results, but are not actually infected with the disease. Many animals are exposed to the organism, but fight the infection off on their own. These animals will have antibodies to B. burgdorferi but not have the disease. In an endemic area, almost 90% of all dogs will have a positive antibody test, so a single positive result means very little. As we mentioned earlier, only around 10% of the exposed dogs actually contract the infection. 

In addition, the former antibody tests could distinguish between a dog that has been vaccinated or naturally exposed to Borrelia. A more recent test, called a 'C6' test can distinguish between antibodies made against this protein on the surface of the organism, but not present in the vaccine. This simple test can be run in a veterinarian's office. As with the other antibody tests, however, the C6 test will not distinguish between exposure to Borrelia and actual infection. 

Therefore, tests must be used with several other criteria to gain a positive diagnosis. Suspected animals should have a history of tick exposure, compatible clinical signs, and have a rapid response to antibiotic therapy. In fact, clinical signs and rapid response to antibiotic therapy is how many diagnoses of Lyme disease are made. If an animal that is suspected of having Lyme disease does not clinically improve within 48 hours of starting antibiotic therapy, it is best to assume that it is not Lyme disease and begin to do other diagnostic tests to find the source of the problem. 

Treatment

Treatment for Lyme disease is very straightforward and consists of using either a tetracycline or penicillin-based antibiotic. The antibiotics must be given a minimum of 14 days, but 30 days is recommended. However, some preliminary studies show that some animals may not even clear the organism after 30 days and will relapse once the antibiotic is discontinued. In these cases, the animal may have to be on the antibiotic for much longer. It appears that many animals may never completely rid themselves of B. burgdorferi despite aggressive treatment. These animals may never show any further signs of the disease, or may suffer from increased degenerative changes in the joints leading to premature arthritis. Despite the fact that some animals may developchronic infections, the vast majority of infected dogs respond rapidly and satisfactorily to doxycycline treatment. In some animals with severe arthritis, pain relievers may also be used in addition to antibiotics. The use of steroids in this disease is definitely contraindicated.

Die Babesiosis

Babesiosis is an important tick-borne disease that occurs worldwide. It ranges from a relatively mild to a fatal disease. Babesias are microscopic blood parasites that cause disease in many animals. This group of protozoal organisms are spread from dog to dog by ticks. Babesiosis of dogs is spread by the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineous). It can also be spread through infected blood transfusions. 

Two of them, B. canis ("large" babesia) and B. gibsoni ("small" babesia) cause the sudden destruction of blood known as acute hemolytic anemia in dogs. These parasites live within the cytoplasm of the red blood cells. In the past, B. gibsoni was associated with Asia, Africa and the Middle East. But from 1979 on it has been found in several locations in the United States. 

A seasonal variation occurs with the highest incidence in the summer months. The source of infection is carrier ticks or ticks feeding on dogs that are either ill or incubating the disease and then feeding on a susceptible dog. Other possible sources of infection are carrier dogs or blood transfusions. Although canine babesiosis can occur in animals of all ages, the majority of cases are young animals. 

Diagnosis:
There are three forms of the disease, peracute, acute, and chronic. 

In the fulminating or peracute form, young dogs arrive at the animal hospital not eating, depressed and weak. Their gums are very pale and they are generally running a fever. Often these dogs recently weathered a stressful situation such as another illness, hard work or surgery. Dogs that have this disease usually arrive with substantial anemia. They are often jaundiced (yellow) due to large amounts of blood pigments present in their skin. This occurs when destroyed red blood cells overwhelm the liver's ability to process them. The color change is particularly apparent in the whites of their eyes. When I see a jaundiced anemic animal several diseases come to mind. The one I see the most is acute autoimmune anemia, the second is zinc toxicity and the third is babesiosis. I usually stain a thin film of blood taken from the earflap or toenail of these animals in my office. It is common to see "bullseye" appearing red blood cells that lack the proper amount of hemoglobin. When I am fortunate I will see the parasites. Babesia gibsoni organisms can easily be overlooked in a blood smear because they are small, usually single and variable in shape (pleomorphic). If I do not find any parasites but still suspect that they are there I send blood off for an indirect fluorescent antibody test. Dogs with the peracute form of the illness can die before treatment has a chance to take effect.

In the acute form of the disease the same symptoms are present but they are less severe. In the chronic form of the disease the dogs just don't have much energy. They are anemic but not severely so. Examination of the blood from these dogs may not detect the parasite. One does find a large number of immature red blood cells (regenerative anemia) because the body sends them into circulation prematurely to make up for those that are lost to the disease. These dogs also have a very enlarged spleen. They are rarely jaundiced. Most owners complain that their dog just doesn't have the pep it once did. These dogs are usually thin and if they run a fever it is low and intermittent. Kidney and liver function in these dogs is often poor. Laboratory tests on the blood of these patients show, besides regenerative anemia, increased red cell pigments free in the blood and urine. Sometimes, enzymes that measure liver function (AP, ALT and LDH) as well as tests that measure kidney function (BUN, Creatinine) are elevated, indicating damage to these organs. Unfortunately this disease is often misdiagnosed as autoimmune hemolytic anemia because tests for autoimmunity become positive in babesiosis.babesia dog babesiosis

In dogs that succumb to the disease pathological examination of the liver often shows severe hepatitis (centrilobular hepatitis), inflammation of the arteries (multifocal necrotizing arteritis) and kidney inflammation (membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis) as well as inflammation of the lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)

Treatment:
We treat this disease with anti-babesiosis drugs, intravenous fluids, blood building tonics and good nursing care. Imidocarb dipropionate (Imizol, Burroughs Wellcome, Schering-Plough) is the drug of choice. It is given at 2.5 mg/pound body weight by deep muscular injection every two weeks for two treatments. Sometimes dogs are simultaneously infected with a second parasite, Ehrlichia canis. When this is the case imidocarb destroys them both. Some dogs treated by this method recover very rapidly but others do not. Many cases relapse and those that do recover may become chronic carriers that transmit the disease to other dogs.

In dogs that are not treated, the chronic antigenic stimulation associated with persistent infection can result in chronic kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis), liver failure and inflammation of the blood vesicles (vasculitis).

Canine Ehrlichiosis

Canine Ehrlichiosis is a disease caused by Ehrlichia canis. The main symptoms are: fever, loss of weight, tiredness and lack of appetite. This disease can in turn lead to considerable anaemia and low number of platelets. Other symptoms observed are heavy and laboured breathing and stiffness in the legs. Erhlichiosis is a very serious disease and can be fatal. The spread of E.canis is dependent on the distribution of the vector, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. This tick was originally to be found in southern European areas, but is increasingly spreading north. 

Canine ehrlichiosis is an acute to chronic disease characterized by infection of monocytes and lymphocytes, with the intracellular gram-negative bacteria, Ehrlichia canis, E. chaffeesis (monocytic ehrlichiosis), and E. ewingi (granulocytic ehrlichiosis). 

The typical haematological changes include anaemia, leucopenia, and thrombocytopenia. Infection may result in either a regenerative or non-regenerative anaemia. 

In the acute disease although there anaemia due to destruction of progenitor and proliferative cells in the bone marrow occurs, bone marrow is usually hypercellular suggestive that there is also cell destruction in the peripheral blood. As the erythrocyte lifespan is long, the anaemia is usually mild or absent. The organism can also trigger a secondary immune mediated haemolytic anaemia. 

In the chronic phase of the disease pancytopenia is evident because of stem cell injury with an associated hypocellular bone marrow, which appears to be more common in the German shepherd dog. Lymphocytosis has been reported to occur with ehrlichiosis and may mimic lymphocytic leukaemia, especially if there is also an associated monoclonal gammopathy on serum protein electrophoresis.

Canine ehrlichiosis may be complicated by concurrent infection with babesiosis and mycoplasmosis. Diagnosis of ehrlichiosis is based on visualization of the morulae, detection of antibodies, and ideally PCR.

Tick-Borne Encephalitis

Tickborne encephalitis (TBE), also known as Central European encephalitis or Russian spring-summer encephalitis, is a flavivirus infection of the central nervous system. The two most important genotypes of tickborne encephalitis virus (TBEV) are European and Far Eastern, transmitted by the hard ticks Ixodes ricinus and I. persulcatus, respectively. Human TBEV infections are acquired through bites of infected ticks or, rarely, by ingesting unpasteurized dairy products primarily from infected goats, sheep, or cows.

It is still not absolutely confirmed that dogs can be infected. However, eight dogs originating from different regions of Austria [all of them known as tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) areas] with severe neurological signs were either euthanatized or died spontaneously. Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) antigen was detected in the brains of five of these dogs by immunohistology, but not in the others. All of the dogs, however, had identical neuropathological changes. Due to rapid virus clearance mechanisms in this disease, antigen was not detectable in all cases. Neuropathological changes identical with those of immunohistologically proven cases justified the diagnosis TBE in these cases. In addition, the neuropathological diagnosis was supported by the origin of the affected dogs from endemic areas, the seasonal occurrence of the disease and a clinical history of a highly febrile neurological disease with short duration.

Generally, two subtypes of this disease have been identified, sometimes known as Russian spring/summer encephalitis and Central European encephalitis, but there is little difference between them. The disease is reported from Scandinavia, Western Europe, Central Europe, the former Soviet Union, and East Asia. The peak incidence is from April through August. The incubation period is usually from one to two weeks, but may vary. The disease typically begins as a flu-like illness, including fever, headache, and vomiting, followed by the development of neurologic symptoms, including neck stiffness, dizziness, tremors, drowsiness, delirium, and coma. Neurologic damage may be permanent, causing chronic headaches, difficulty concentrating, muscle weakness or loss of balance. A small percentage of cases are fatal. The disease is rarely severe in children less than four years old. 

Ticks act as both the vector and reservoir for TBEV. The main hosts are small rodents, with humans being accidental hosts. Large animals are feeding hosts for the ticks, but do not play a role in maintenance of the virus. The virus can chronically infect ticks and is transmitted both transtadially (from larva to nymph to adult ticks) and transovarially (from adult female tick through eggs). The incubation period of TBE is usually between 7 and 14 days and is asymptomatic.

Die Hepatozoonosis

Canine hepatozoonosis is a tick-borne disease caused by apicomplexan protozoa. Two different species of Hepatozoon infect dogs, H. canis in the Europe and South America, and Hepatozoonosis americanum in the southern USA. Hepatozoonosis canis infection (HCI) varies between being asymptomatic in dogs with a low parasitemia, to a severe disease with anemia, profound lethargy and cachexia in dogs with a large number of circulating parasites. Hepatozoonosis americanum infection (HAI) is manifested mainly by gait abnormalities and musculoskeletal pain due to myositis and periosteal bone lesions. 

In contrast to many tick-borne pathogens that are transmitted via the tick salivary glands, Hepatozoon transmission to the dog takes place by ingestion of a tick or parts of ticks containing Hepatozoon oocysts. Sporozoites release from the oocysts in the dog's intestine and penetrate the gut wall. The sporozoites invade mononuclear cells and disseminate hematogenously or via the lymph to target organs. Merogony occurs in the dog's parenchymal tissues and is followed by gametogony in leukocytes. The tick, which serves as the definitive host, becomes infected when feeding on a parasitemic dog. Hepatozoon gamonts release from the dog leukocytes within the tick gut and gametogenesis takes place followed by fertilization and sporogony with the formation of oocysts in the tick's hemocoel.

The main vector of H. canis is the brown dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguinis. R. sanguineus is found in warm and temperate regions all over the world, making the potential distribution of H. canis wide. The Gulf Coast tick Amblyomma maculatum is the vector of H. americanum. A. maculatum's distribution appears to be restricted to some parts of America. Both of the Hepatozoon species that infect dogs are transmitted transstadially from the nymph to the adult stage, in their tick vectors.

Concurrent HCI and infection with other canine pathogens is common. Co-infections with H. canis reported include: parvovirus, Ehrlichia canis, Toxoplasma gondii and Leishmania infantum. In contrast to the generally mild disease found in HCI, HAI is almost always a severe disease that leads to debilitation and death. Most dogs diagnosed with HAI are presented with fever, gait abnormalities, muscular pain induced by myositis, generalized muscular atrophy and mucopurulent ocular discharge. The pain can be generalized or localized in the lumbar and cervical spine, or joints. Gait abnormalities include stiffness, hind limb paresis, ataxia and inability to rise. A marked neutrophilia is one of the consistent hematologic findings in HAI. Leukocyte counts range from 30,000 to 200,000/ml blood. Serum biochemical abnormalities include increased alkaline phosphatase activity and hypoalbuminemia.

Die Leishmaniosis

Leishmaniosis is a very severe illness and can end with the death of the animal. The bite of the mosquito, called "butterfly mosquito" or Phlebotomus, transmits Leishmaniosis into the dog's organism, a riquetzia called Leishmania infantum. Against Leishmania no vaccination exists up to now, but there is medication to treat it. 

Leishmaniosis is found in the north of Latin-America and in the Mediterranean zone, where it is endemic. Also in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Libya and Morocco. 

One of the first symptoms is the loss of hair around the eyes and the nose. In almost all the cases we can see that the dog has appetite but can notice a weight loss. It shows inflammation of the skin on the head and paws; but mostly in the parts where there is contact with the ground. In the last stages of the illness, we can notice long and soft claws. 

The incubation time can be from 3 month to 18 months. It is very rare that Leishmanias stays undetected and remain in an immature stage with no symptoms or development. Sometimes - but also very rarely, the organism eliminates Leishmaniosis by itself. 

In the doIIn the dog, the Leishmania lives in special cells called Macrofagus (one of the white cells). These are found in the blood, skin and different organs. The parasite has a round form and its reproduction is by cellular division. If the mosquito bites an infected dog, it takes the infected cells through the skin. In the mosquito's stomach the cells are broken and release the Leishmania. This parasite (Leishmania) reproduces itself after days in many immature forms. Then, the female mosquito, starts to search for its aliment: the blood. If this mosquito bites the dog for the second time, it puts the eggs under the skin, producing an inflammatory reaction in the place of the bite. Preferably in the lips, nose or ear (where the access of the mosquito is easier because of less hair). There, the parasites are captured by the macrofagus and will spread to different organs of the dog. 

The mosquito is rarely seen during the day - normally they hide in holes until the twilight. It is very small. Their colour is from "kaki" to brown. When they want to bite, they jump with the back legs, wings wide open on the dog's body. They bite people and dogs. If the person is allergic, it will feel like your skin is burning. This mosquito doesn't live on the beach, but you can find them in the garden, or any humid place. The activity of the mosquito starts in May until September and when the temperatures continue to stay warm - they can last until October.

PROTECTION AGAINST TICKS AND TICK TRANSMITTED DISEASES

When sucking blood, ticks produce a substance that prevents them from being recognised immediately. When attached to the skin various bacterias are released into the bloodtream of the host. This transmission starts a couple of hours after the bite and comes to its peak about 72 hours after the bite. Therefore it is very important to identify and remove a tick as soon as possibnle.

The proper way to remove a tick is using a set of fine tweezers and gripping the tick as close to the skin as is possible. The use of a smoldering match or cigarette, nail polish, Vaseline, or kerosene should be avoided, since they may irritate the tick and cause it to behave like a syringe, injecting organism-bearing bodily fluids into the wound.

The proper technique for tick removal includes the following steps:

  • Use a fine tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible.

  • Pull backwards gently but firmly, using an even, steady pressure. Do not jerk or twist.

  • Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick, since its fluids may contain infectious agents.

  • After removing the tick, disinfect the skin and hands thoroughly with soap and water.

  • If sections of the mouth parts of the tick remain in the skin, these should be left alone; they will be expelled on their own. Attempts to remove these parts may result in significant skin trauma.

Most of diseases are transmitted by tiny larves or nymphs that are not easily to be found, therefore the most successful protection against such diseases it to protect your dog from the tick bite at all. There are a lot of products that can be used to keep the ticks away, shampoos, sprays, spot-on products or collars. Shampoos, sprays or spot-on products usually keep the protection up for a limited period of up to four weeks, while collars relase their substances during the whole season.  

There is also a "tick" vaccination available, however this vaccination offers protection against borreliosis only. Furthermore there is some sceptisism about this efects of this vaccination. In any case you also should talk to your vet about tick protection. 

Homeopathic prophylaxis and acute treatment

Currently the only vaccination available for dogs is borreliosis. Others that might be available are in the testing stage. We do not vaccinate our dogs against borreliosis. For one, because we do not see the benefit to have protection against one disease, but non against all the others. And because we do not like to expose our dogs to all negative side effects of the vaccination, when there is no 100 % guarantee that the dogs have got full protection.

We are using homeopathic treatments already for several years. Therefore we've decided to fight tick transmitted diseases with homeopathic remedies as well. We've been very successful with this strategy sofar. We even were able to watch the dog of one of our friends, serverely fallen ill with babesiosis, being cured by our homeopathic vet, after all common treatments had failed. We use the following remedies: 

- Homeopathic acute symptom treatment:

Day 1 of tick bite
APIS C200
(3-5 globuli)

Day 3 of tick bite
LEDUM C200
(3-5 globuli)

These remedies (Apis + Ledum) can also be used after stung by bees or mosquitos. In case of a wasp or hornet bite we would use Apis , followed by VESPA CRABRO C200 (3-5 globuli) instead of Ledum. In the case of these insect bites the remedies shall be taken with a 15 minutes intervals.

The best way to administer the remedy to your dog is just to drop a few globuli into the lid and pour them directly into the mouth of your dog. Any ignited or timid areas left from the bite can be desinfected with Echinacea- or Calendula tincture. When our dogs get another tick bite witin 1 month, wwe do not repeat the treatment. After that period we use the same remedies again.

 

There is also the possibility of a homeopathic vaccination

- Homeopathic Nosod:

At the beginning of the tick season:
TICK BITE NOSOD C200 (3 Globuli twice within 15 minutes)

After the 1st tick bite (only once per season):
BORRELIA NOSOD C200 (3 Globuli twice within 15 minutes)

Please talk to a homeopathic vet about the possibilities!

Tick removal card - SafeCard®

Always closely inspect your pet and yourself after walking in woods, fields or meadows. If your detect any ticks, do not crush the tick's body during removal. Rather, use tweezers or forceps (or a specialized tick removal device such as the Trix tick remover) to grasp the tick's head as close to your pet's skin as possible, and gently remove the tick to avoid separation of the tick's head from its body.

Latest studies have shown that the known removal methods can even increase the risk of infection. When the tick is squeezed or turned or irritated in any other way it is much more likely that the tick releases its bacteria into the body of the host.

The new tick removal card , SafeCard, is based on a simple principle: ticks are removed without any violence. It is just "moved" from the body with the card, in a steady and gently gliding motion.

SafeCard was developed in cooperation between scientists and doctors. The card is designed in a way that it can be used at any part of the body. It has the same size as any other credit or cheuque card and can be carried in the wallet.

[www.goldselect.com]

Long-term prophylaxis with Spot-On concentrates

Spot-On products are available from various pharamceutical companies. Most are based on very poisonous substances that go into the animals organism through its skin. The toxin in some products is so strong that cats die when they get in touch with the substance. The alternative are spot-on products that use natural substances only:  

- cdVet Defence Concentrate

Defence Concentrate for Dogs repelling parasites with a combination of aromatic oils. 
The odour of the dogs is slightly influenced.This odours is for human and animal not recognizable but intolerable for insects and teases. It is a natural alternativ to conventional chemical procedures for defence of teases and insects at the animal. Within an all the year appliance the concentrate offers also an optimal protection againat fleas (thus fleas exists during the whole year). Dermatologically tested

Recommendation of appliance:
Massage during 3 weeks daily 1 drop of the Concentrate into the skin at the neck and the root of the tail. After this 3 weeks the procedure is only repeated twice a week. Within consequent appliance cdVet Defence Concentrate is the optimal alternative.

Ingredients:
tee-tree oil, buxus, jojoba oil, lavender oil, geranium oil
[www.cdvet.co.uk]

 

- Pet-Fit Ex

A biological defense concentrate, to be applied once a month. Based on natural substances, does no harm to kids and puppies. Parasites don't get resistant. PET-Fit Ex can be used for all kind of pets. Dermatologically tested

Ingredients:
Biological plant oils, triglyceride, Glyceride, without chemicals

[www.my-pet-fit.at]

Short-term prophylaxis with defence sprays

Most people have already experience with insect repellent sprays. Especially when it comes to mosquitos, everyone has used them at least once. Unfortunately insects get immune against these products after some time. The following sprays work with absolutely natural ingredients only. Most of them are known to be repellent, however it is the combination that makes the good product. 

Defence sprays can be used in addition to long-term products when staying in an area with lots of insects. Should be applied shortly before entering such areas. Can also be used by humans.

- Viticks Cool Plus

The product contains as active reagent a carbon dioxide extract of the seed of the monk pepper tree (Vitex-agnus castus) cares and cools the skin and provides a repellent effect especially against ticks and mites. Based on tests this effect can persist up to 6 hours. The effect persists also up to 6 hours if the product is applied against flees and longer than 6 hours if it should be applied against anopheles mosquitoes, culex mosquitoes, biting houseflies and gadflies. Dermatologically tested.

Effects: 
- Culex-Mosquitoes 9 hrs
- Anopheles-Mosquitoes 9 hrs
- Sandflies 4,5 hrs
- Aedes-Mosquitoes 2,5 h
- Biting Housefly 4,5 hrs
- Flea 6 h
- Ticks 6 hrs 

Ingredients:
Water, Ethanol, PEG-40 hydrogenated Castoroil
[www.vollwerth-apotheke.de] or [www.apotheke.de]

- Zedan SP

ZEDAN SP with LSF 4 is purely made of organic substances and natural ingredients, without any synthetic preservation. Excellent results to repel parasitres like ticks, fleas, lice, mosquitos etc. 

Walnut oil, sesame oil and avocado oil have a soothing effect to coat and skin, and give natural protection against UV light. They also keep the lotion in the coat of animals (without getting sticky) which keeps the effect for a couple of days. 
Dermatologically tested. 

Ingredients:
cedarwood, idris-yaghi, eucalyptus, mint, citronella and cloves 
[www.westernreitzubehoer.com]

Collar

There are various different collars available. Most of them are based on toxic substances and give protection onyl when they are always used. This gives some problems with breeds that have crisp coat, like the schnauzer breed. The collar leaves a mark in the coat on the neck, where its worn.

- Scalibor® Collar

Scailbor collar is designed to control sandflies, the vectors of canine Leishminiasis and tick infestations for up to six months. Scalibor collars are odourless and remain active even when the dog becomes wet.

As the collar exerts its full effect after one week, the collar should be applied 1 week before animals are likely to become exposed to infestation. It is continuously used for the fist 14 days, after this period when going outside, only.

Deltamethrin was a well known substance already long ago in persia and africa to protect hunting dogs and to apply on mosquito nets. The substance is spread evenly on the dog skin and though protects the whole body. The collar can be used on puppies (after 7 weeks) as well as pregnant bitches.

Scalibor collar has the following effect:

repellent - efect: 

Prevents the parasite from investing

anti - feeding - efect:

Prevents the parasite from biting

knock - down - efect:

Lames the parsite

letal - efect: 

Kills the parasite

While occasional contact with water does not reduce the effectiveness of the collar, it should be removed before swimming and bathing the dog because the active substance is harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms.
Dogs must be prevented from swimming in water for the first five days of wearing the collar. 

[www.scalibor.de] purchase at AnimalCareShop Holland

SPECIES

Castor bean tick or forest tick

    
female tick of the species Ixodes ricinus, different sizes depending on volume of blood sucked;
upper left : male tick, sticking on the females belly

Ixodes ricinus is a hard tick that infests livestock, deer, dogs, and a wide variety of other species including humans. This tick has long mouthparts that can make its bites painful and annoying; the bites can also become secondarily infected by bacteria. Feeding by large numbers of ticks may result in anemia. Ixodes ricinus can also transmit numerous diseases including babesiosis (Babesia divergens and Babesia bovis infections), louping ill, tick-borne encephalitis, rickettsial tick borne fever of sheep, Lyme disease, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and Bukhovinian hemorrhagic fever. It can also spread Anaplasma marginale, Coxiella burnetii, and Ehrlichia phagocytophila.

Adult Ixodes ricinus feed on large mammals such as cattle, sheep, and deer. The larvae of this species feed on small reptiles, mammals, and birds and the nymphs parasitize small and medium-sized vertebrates. In endemic areas, dogs and cats can be infested.

Ixodes ricinus can be found in cool, relatively humid, shrubby or wooded pastures, gardens, floodplains, and forests. This tick is endemic in most of Europe, parts of Asia, and North Africa.

Ixodes ricinus is a three-host tick. The larvae feed on small reptiles, mammals, and birds and the nymphs parasitize small and medium-sized vertebrates. The adult ticks feed only on large mammals, including cattle, sheep, and deer. Ixodes ricinus ticks are often found around the mouth, ears, and eyelids of sheep, dogs, and cats, and around the udder and axillary region of cattle.

The life cycle of Ixodes ricinus usually takes two to four years to complete. This tick can only survive in areas with high humidity and is not usually active in the summer. Ticks that do not feed in the spring do not usually survive the summer.

    
female tick                                                                tick larve

Ixodes ricinus is a member of the family Ixodidae (hard ticks). Hard ticks have a dorsal shield (scutum) and their mouthparts (capitulum) protrude forward when they are seen from above. Ixodes ticks have long mouthparts but no eyes. They are inornate and have no festoons. The anal groove is distinct and surrounds the anus anteriorly. Ixodes are sexually dimorphic: the stigmatic (spiracular) plates are oval in males, but circular in females. The ventral surface of the male has seven non-projecting, armor like plates.

Adult Ixodes ricinus are red-brown; however, the female ticks are light gray when engorged. Before feeding, the males are approximately 2.5-3 mm long and the females 3-4 mm long. When they are engorged, the females can be as long as 1 cm. In this species, a spur is found on the posterior internal angle of the coxa of the first pair of legs; this spur overlaps the coxa of the second pair of legs. The tarsi are moderately long and tapering.

Bush tick or scrub tick


Dermacentor reticulatus
left : female, right : male

There are 30 known Dermacentor species worldwide, two of which are found in Europe: D.reticulatus (marsh tick or ornate cow tick) and D.marginatus (ornate sheep tick).

The marsh tick is regarded as the most dangerous carrier of babesiosis. This tick is larger and more colourful than other species. It is approximately 5 millimeters large while unfed, but can measure up to 16 millimeters after it has successfully completed its blood meal. Females have a white shield with dark spots on the front of their backs, while on male marsh ticks this shield covers the entire back. Marsh ticks are frequently found in France, northern Spain, northern Italy and Croatia, and have also occurred in large quantities in Germany in recent years.

Dermacentor reticulatus has particular affinity for low pressure troughs close to rivers. It is mainly found in rural ecosystems but also in peri-urban areas, fallow land and wasteland. Similarly to Ixodes, Dermacentor may develop on different hosts.

Life cycle 1-2 years. the eggs that are laid and hatch on the ground. It is a three host tick: Tick species where all three stages target different hosts. Adults target medium to large mammals: sheep, cattle, dogs, men, horses and pigs Nymph and Larva target small mammals, insectivores and occasionally birds.

Kennel tick or brown dog tick


Kennel tick or brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)

The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus Latreille, is unusual among ticks, in that it can complete its entire life cycle indoors. Because of this, it can establish populations in colder climates, and has been found in much of the world. Many tick species can be carried indoors on animals, but cannot complete their entire life cycle inside. Although R. sanguineus will feed on a wide variety of mammals, dogs are the preferred host in the US and appear to be required to develop large infestations. 

Infestations in houses can explode to very high levels quickly. Typically, a few ticks are brought into the house or kennel, often on a dog which has been away from home. The early stages of the infestation, when only a few individuals are present, are often missed completely. The first indication the dog owner has that there is a problem is when they start noticing ticks crawling up the walls or curtains! 

The tick is found world-wide, more commonly in warmer climates. It is present throughout Florida, and is found on dogs, in kennels and houses, and occasionally on wildlife. 

Among ticks in Florida, this tick is easily recognized. It is small, red-brown in color (called the red dog tick in other parts of the world), and lacking any ornamentation. Although not sufficient for formal identification, it can be recognized by its by red-brown color, elongated body shape, and hexagonal basis capituli. The hexagonal basis capituli is a particularly good identifying character, as only one other tick species with this feature has ever been found in Florida (Boophilus annulatus, the cattle tick). The cattle tick was eradicated from Florida many years ago, so ticks found in Florida now with a hexagonal basis captituli are almost certainly R. sanguineus. 

In the US, the brown dog tick prefers to feed on dogs in all stages. However, it will feed on other mammals, including domestic animals and humans. This is most likely to occur if it can't find a dog nearby, so beware of trying to control the tick by removing the dogs! Elsewhere in the world, it is more frequently found feeding on other mammals. This difference in host preference is not completely understood, but is probably related to the animals available and differences in the populations from the original introductions into new areas. In the southeastern US, it has been reported occasionally from rodents and deer, but most collections are from dogs and (much less commonly) humans. 


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