Protection against parasites: tick collars for dogs: how useful is it to use? That's what the vet says

According to the Robert Koch Institute, ticks only become active when the temperature rises above seven degrees.

Protection against parasites: tick collars for dogs: how useful is it to use? That's what the vet says

According to the Robert Koch Institute, ticks only become active when the temperature rises above seven degrees. As a result, the parasites lurk in forests and meadows from spring until late autumn - i.e. exactly in the places that dog owners prefer to go for a walk. To avoid biting their four-legged friend (for the record, ticks don't bite since they have a proboscis), some people resort to chemical collars. These should not only repel ticks, but also fleas and other parasites. But does it really work? And does it pose any health risks to pets? We have Dr. Ursula von Einem from the Federal Association of Practicing Veterinarians e.V. asked about it.

When dogs are infested with ticks, the parasites suck themselves up and then drop off again, so the four-legged friend (usually) experiences no harm other than subsequent itching. In rare cases, however, the bite site can become infected - especially when pet owners try to remove the parasite and the head gets stuck. The bite (or sting) of a tick is not dangerous in itself, confirms Dr. Ursula von Einem. "If the tick is allowed to go through its natural sucking process, nothing actually happens." Nevertheless, the veterinarian points out that the parasites are carriers of dangerous diseases such as borreliosis and babesiosis or, in very rare cases, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). This applies to people, but also to pets. "There have been one or two cases of TBE in dogs." It seems all the more sensible to protect your pet from the blood-sucking parasites throughout the tick season. For example with a special tick collar? The star followed up.

So-called Spot Ons (e.g. from Frontline) are liquid veterinary medicines against parasites that are dripped once onto the dog's skin. Tick ​​collars, on the other hand, should continuously release their active substance to the fat layer of the animal. "Both variants usually do not prevent dogs from being bitten by ticks, but they cause the parasites to die as soon as they penetrate the skin - and thus do not transmit any dangerous pathogens," Ursula von Einem explains the mode of action of both preparations. For this reason, the conventional doctor considers the use of tick collars to be useful, but only after consulting the veterinarian. This can help to determine the right active ingredient and the right size for a dog. Because the fact is that the application can certainly bring side effects. You can find out exactly which ones in the next section.

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Depending on the manufacturer, different insecticides are used. The best-known active ingredients include imidacloprid, deltamethrin and permethrin. With the last two preparations, the veterinarian expressly warns against using them in households where house tigers also live. "Permethrin is toxic to cats. They can't metabolize the active ingredient and have severe symptoms of poisoning, even if they only ingest small amounts." But what about the compatibility with dogs? "The active ingredients that are used can be nerve-damaging. For example, if the wrong collar (or wrong Spot On) is used - that always depends on the appropriate dosage," explains Dr. Ursula von Einem on possible risks. Dog owners should therefore always monitor their animals for side effects, such as tiredness, coordination difficulties, movement disorders, salivation, loss of appetite or vomiting. If these typical signs appear (usually gradually), a veterinarian should definitely be consulted.

There is no general answer to this question, since tick collars (depending on the manufacturer) have different effects. It is important to know that the ingredients only develop their effect if the collar is worn without interruption. You can't just put it on a dog for a walk and then take it off again. In addition, the tick season has expanded. "Due to the mild temperatures, we have ticks even in winter. That's why you should think about doing tick prevention all year round," is a tip from Ursula von Einem. However, the vet recommends removing the collar before each bath, because the substances it contains have a toxic effect on aquatic organisms. "If you let your dog go swimming, you should keep in mind that the active ingredient is on the animal's skin. In other words, for dogs that like to go swimming in the lake, a tick collar doesn't always make sense".

Tick ​​collars can contain chemical substances, but also plant-based active ingredients - these are mostly essential oils that are supposed to keep ticks, fleas, mites and mosquitoes away. Alternatively, amber necklaces are also recommended to ward off parasites: the rubbing of the stones should electrostatically charge the dog's fur and thus drive away ticks. However, there are no studies that can prove this. Also Mrs. Dr. Ursula von Einem is somewhat skeptical about this method from naturopathy as a conventional doctor. Last but not least, there are also so-called EM collars for dogs, which are made of ceramic and contain special lactic acid bacteria. Here, too, the mode of action has not been confirmed in any study so far, but many dog ​​owners still swear by the alternative tick collars. In the end, the welfare of the animal should always come first.

Sources: Robert Koch Institute, Federal Association of Practicing Veterinarians e.V.

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