Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Tick control

Contributor(s): Maggie Fisher, Susan E Shaw

Introduction

  • Ticks are common parasites affecting dogs and cats in many areas of the world. They are obligate blood feeding ectoparasites and are considered to be the most important arthropod vector of infectious diseases of veterinary importance. A single family of ticks the Ixodidae, and in particular species of RhipicephalusDermacentor   Dermacentor variabilis Ixodes  Ixodes ricinus  , Haemaphysalisand   Amblyomma americanum , are of major concern for dogs and cats due to their co-evolution with a variety of viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Tick-transmitted diseases are often serious and difficult and expensive to treat. Optimal tick control is essential in protecting cats (and dogs).
  • Specialized anatomy and biological characteristics make controlling tick infestations challenging. 
  • Ticks are adapted for relatively prolonged attachment to their hosts. The paired chelicerae penetrate the epidermis and macerate dermal capillaries, and the toothed hypostome in combination with secretion of specialized cement, holds the mouthparts in place during feeding. The introduction of immune-modulatory and anti-coagulant salivary molecules around the bite site allows effective feeding by dampening down the localized cutaneous inflammatory response. At the same time, the molecules produce an environment suitable for the introduction and establishment of tick borne infections in susceptible hosts. Ticks will remain attached to their hosts for several days before dropping off into the environment.
  • The optimal environments for tick development vary with the species involved but commonly include mixed forest, grass, rough pasture and moorland vegetation with suitable populations of small mammals or birds on which they can feed during their immature stages. Dogs and cats most commonly become infested with ticks when they are in walking, working or hunting in these areas. However, Rhipicephalus sanguineusreadily adapts to kennel and household environments.
  • The immature tick stages survive off the host for extended periods of time in sheltered areas and the life cycle can last for several seasons/years. The risk of dogs and cats being bitten by ticks varies with the time of year; they appear more at risk during the spring and autumn periods but this varies with geographical region, tick species and with the effect of climate change (in more southerly parts of Europe there can be several generations in a year).
    Print off the owner factsheet onTick control  Tick control  to give to your client.

Visual examination and removal of ticks from dogs/cats

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On-animal application of acaricides

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Products to repel ticks or decrease tick attachment

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Prevention of infestation or re-infection; frequency of administration

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Environmental control

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers
  • Recent references fromPubMed.
  • Dryden M W, Payne P A (2004) Biology and Control of Ticks in North America. Veterinary Therapeutics26, 1-14.

Other sources of information

  • Therapies available for dogs and cats in the UK can  be found in summary form on the ESCCAP and ESCCAP UK websites:www.esccap.organdwww.esccapuk.org.uk.
  • NOAH (2009)Compendium of Data sheets for Animal Medicineshttp://www.noahcompendium.co.uk/.
  • Wall R, Pitts K (2005)Arthropod vectors of infectious disease: biology and control.In: Arthropod-borne Infectious Disease of Dogs and Cats, S E Shaw, M J Day (eds), Manson Publishing Ltd, London, pp 11-22.
  • Veterinary Ectoparasites: Biology, Pathology and Control.(2001) 2nd edn, Wall and Shearer, Blackwell Science Ltd, London, pp71-74.


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