If you’re anything like me, you despise ticks. Not just because they’re arachnids and have too many legs to be up to any good, but because they spread diseases that are unpleasant for humans and animals alike.
Paula Jackson-Jones does a great job in her “Lyme Time” column in this newspaper in keeping the issue of Lyme disease on everyone’s mind (as it should be until the day when we find a safe way to eradicate it altogether). In the meantime, we have to worry about ticks bringing diseases such as Lyme into our homes by hitching a ride either on us or our beloved furry friends.
I’m not a big fan of promoting the death of any living thing, but there is a line and ticks have crossed it. I’ve read that every living creature serves a purpose, and I’m sure that’s true of ticks, though I have a hard time seeing the evolutionary need for them anymore. Yes, they do control the populations of herds of animals (such as deer), and I don’t wish to sound shortsighted, but that is an issue that is less of a problem now than it was 1,000 years ago when we didn’t have hunters or car accidents involving deer.
One of the problems with ticks is that they’re so darned hard to kill. There are several nostrums for killing these creatures, and I don’t claim to know which are effective and which are just ways to get them out of the house quickly. My personal favorite is flushing them down the toilet, which may or may not result in a shiny-clean, perfectly unharmed tick at the other end.
Other methods (also on the “don’t try this at home, kids” list) are burning them with a match or squeezing them with your bare fingers. The most efficacious solutions I’ve seen include cutting them with scissors (while wearing gloves) or drowning them in alcohol (I think rubbing alcohol is what is recommended – there’s no need to waste good rum).
While I don’t claim to have the answers for getting rid of ticks with chemicals, I do know there are many products out there that your veterinarian can recommend. I use Catego on my cat, and I know there are several of my clients who successfully use Seresto collars and/or Bravecto for their dogs. Frontline is still out there, but it’s not so helpful when trying to avoid fleas, so it really depends on what problem you’re most concerned about.
Of course, this is a discussion you and your vet need to have about your specific pets.
Whatever product you do choose to use, every veterinarian I’ve ever met will tell you to avoid Hartz products – I personally have seen one too many seizuring cats in my time working in vet’s offices, so I certainly don’t recommend them, either.
However you choose to protect yourself and your beloved four-leggers, I think we can all agree that we need to destroy these pernicious ticks before they destroy us.
(Sarah Caton owns All Paws Pet Sitting, which serves all of Lincoln County.)