According to the Robert Koch Institute, ticks only become active when temperatures rise above seven degrees. As a result, the parasites lurk in forests and meadows from spring until late autumn – exactly in the places that dog owners prefer when walking dogs. To prevent their four-legged friends from getting bitten (for the record, ticks don’t bite because they have a stinging proboscis), some people turn to chemical collars. These are intended not only to repel ticks, but also fleas and other parasites. But does it really work? And does its use pose health risks for pets? We have Dr. Ursula von Eine from the Federal Association of Practicing Veterinarians e.v. asked about it.

If dogs are attacked by ticks, the parasites suck themselves full and then drop again, so that the four-legged friend (usually) does not suffer any harm other than subsequent itching. However, in rare cases, the bite site can become infected – especially if pet owners try to remove the parasite and the head gets stuck. The bite (or sting) of a tick is not in itself dangerous, 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 Lyme disease 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 entire 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, are intended to continuously release their active ingredient into the animal’s fat layer. “Both variants usually do not prevent dogs from being bitten by ticks, but rather they cause the parasites to die as soon as they penetrate the skin – and therefore do not transmit dangerous pathogens,” explains Ursula von Einem, explaining how both preparations work. For this reason, conventional medicine considers the use of tick collars to be sensible, but only after consultation with the veterinarian. This can help determine the right active ingredient and the right size for a dog. The fact is that the use can definitely have side effects. You will 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 mentioned, the veterinarian expressly warns against using them in households where house cats also live. “Permethrin is toxic to cats. They cannot metabolize the active ingredient and therefore experience severe symptoms of poisoning, even if they only ingest small amounts.” But what about tolerance in dogs? “The active ingredients that are used can be harmful to the nerves. For example, if the wrong collar (or the wrong spot on) is used – it always depends on the appropriate dosage,” explains Dr. Ursula von Einem talks about possible risks. Therefore, dog owners should always monitor their animals for any side effects, such as fatigue, coordination difficulties, movement disorders, salivation, loss of appetite or vomiting. If these typical signs occur (usually gradually), you should definitely see a veterinarian.

There is no general answer to the question, as tick collars work for different lengths of time (depending on the manufacturer). It is important to know that the ingredients only take 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 taking tick prevention all year round,” is a tip from Ursula von Einem. The vet still recommends removing the collar before every swim – because the substances it contains have a toxic effect on aquatic organisms. “If you let your dog go swimming, you should consider 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 herbal active ingredients – these are usually essential oils that are intended to keep ticks, fleas, mites and mosquitoes away. Alternatively, amber necklaces are also recommended to ward off parasites: the friction of the stones is said to cause the dog’s fur to become electrostatically charged and thus drive away ticks. However, there are no studies that can prove this. Also Ms. Dr. As a conventional doctor, Ursula von Einem is somewhat skeptical about this method from naturopathy. 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, no study has yet been able to confirm its effectiveness, but many dog ​​owners still swear by alternative tick collars. In the end, the animal’s well-being should always be the priority.

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

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