Dog-owners who love rural walks may now see that tick season is in full swing. With or without standard flea and tick medications, these critters can transfer illness such as Lyme disease just through their bite. Most standard medications contain neurotoxins that kill ticks, but only after they’ve gone in for attack.
“It’s not really protection against disease,” says Bob Molloy, who has bred Norwegian Elkhounds for 20 years and runs Bark Place, a dog day care, spa and store in Boston. “Once the dog is bitten, then the risk of disease is there and pesticides don’t stop ticks biting. A much better idea is to use something that repels ticks right from the start.”
As if ticks weren’t enough to worry about, there is growing concern over how the neurotoxins in flea and tick shampoos or topical drops affect pets, too. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating thousands of cases of toxic reactions in dogs and cats, some fatal. How can you tell if your pet is having a reaction? Skin irritation and hair loss are two indicators.
The Environmental Protection Agency is issuing new label directions for usage, but the risk of developing cancer from these medicines is a major concern for pet-owners.
“No one is doing research on the effect long-term,” warns Malloy, who offers these tick bite prevention tips:
Apply a natural tick product as directed — and before walking outdoors, back it up with a natural spray product.
After walking, either use a flea comb to remove any ticks, or bathe the dog with a natural tick shampoo.
Mad About Organics Dog and Cat skin care products, $10-$15, www.madaboutorganics.com