Dogs and their owners who battle the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) sometimes go to desperate measures to control them. Brown dog ticks can complete their life cycle inside people’s homes — unlike most ticks, which spend most of their lives outside. One female brown dog tick can lay up to 5,000 eggs in its lifetime, and they can hide in places that are practically impossible to reach.
Phil Kaufman, an associate professor of veterinary entomology at the University of Florida, is one of several investigators who have published two studies on these ticks in the Journal of Medical Entomology. The first one shows that the tick has become resistant to permethrin, the most commonly used active ingredient in treatments that are applied directly to dogs between their shoulder blades. While this isn’t good news, it is practical. Now pet owners know that pesticides with permethrin will not control the brown dog tick, and they are encouraged instead to use products that use fipronil, as Dr. Kaufman explains in this video:
The other study shows the effectiveness of carbon dioxide as a lure for drawing ticks to bed bug traps. This finding is critical as Kaufman and colleagues, such as Faith Oi, grapple with getting rid of the brown dog tick.
Kaufman and Oi describe the tick as “cryptobiotic,” meaning it hides in nooks and crannies of homes where they are nearly impossible to find, and they spend about 95 percent of their time away from dogs. But if experts can get the ticks to come to one spot, they can better control them, according to Kaufman.
Meanwhile, homeowners can use pesticides to control the ticks, but “the vacuum is your best friend,” Oi said.
“They’re particularly troublesome for people who have cluttered homes, and they drive some homeowners to desperate measures in search of ways to control the tick,” Kaufman said. “Eliminating places where ticks live and breed is the one of the best practices for tick control.”
Homeowners can also help by simplifying their interiors. That allows for more thorough inspections, easier cleaning, and pesticide applications. It also allows for more effective evaluation of the treatment after products are applied.
In addition to being pesky, brown dog ticks can damage or irritate a dog’s skin. In rare cases, they can cause a fever, anorexia, or anemia.
“If you see these signs on your dog, you should see a veterinarian as soon as possible,” Kaufman said.
Read more at: