Let me preface this by saying I hate ticks. I really, really, really hate them. I don't mind spiders or other creepy crawly things, but ticks make me want to scream and run away. The way their little legs twitch beneath their gluttonous bloated bodies, the way they *pop* when you squish them, the way they crawl, searching for blood, my blood.... *shudder*
So, my parents are out of town and I'm watching their dogs for them. While driving home from our walk today (off leash tromp through the woods and fields), I noticed a little bug crawling across my leg. No biggie, except... it's a tick! *Cue screaming and frantically flailing* Fortunately there was no oncoming traffic. As soon as we got home I combed over both dogs. I pulled several ticks off each dog (mostly tiny, but a few had bitten), but they are black, thick haired dogs and I'm sure I missed at least a few. I drowned the little blood sucking B******s in some dish soapy water. I then ran in the house and ripped off all my clothing to be sure I was tick free. Good thing their aren't any neighbors nearby, no time for closed curtains when there are ticks on the loose! No ticks, but that won't stop me from running to check the mirror every time I get an itch!
Called up the parents to ask when the dogs last got their topical tick treatment. "Oh, I think the last time you treated them". In July. Great. "But it's getting cold out, so we figured they didn't need to get done" AAAGGGGHHHHHH. In their defense, our area hasn't had tick problems until the last few years. So my mom is horrible about doing it every month and I can never convince her to do it year round.
Even better, we only had *one* dose left for *two dogs*. The package said for dogs 44-88lbs and the dogs are 45lbs, so I did 1/2 per dog until I can get more. My third dog (AKA The Cat) got treated too, even though she's strictly indoor. Currently, she's switching between practicing her contortionist abilities to get the stuff off and shooting me nasty looks. I'm a little worried she knows where I sleep
So... now for the actual questions (sorry this is so long!)
1. I threw all my clothing in the wash, and then I will throw all of my bedding and then the dog beds in the wash. Will this kill any stray blood suckers?
2. Will the 1/2 dose do any good for the two dogs? When I get more should I do another 1/2 dose immediately, or wait a few weeks and do a full dose?
3. What's the best tick preventative/treatment? Fleas aren't a problem. Preferably ivermectin free (dog #2 is 1/2 border collie)
4. How do I conquer the tick related paranoia? I'm pretty darn close to giving the dogs and myself a bath with acid. What's a little chemical burning next to peace of mind knowing we're tick free?
5. How do I explain to the dogs I still love them, even though I refuse to touch them until I am 100% sure they are tick free? They think they've done something wrong
I've been using Advantix II lately and it seems to be working better than Frontline. It can't be used around cats, so that could be a problem. I'd get another tube and give them both the other 1/2 dose.
I've had Lyme and I'm tick phobic. I totally get it. Just as a heads up, at least around here, the black legged ticks that carry Lyme are more active in the fall/winter. And we now have Lyme in KY. They've migrated. Yippee.
I know this probably won't help you, since I don't have the "ickys" about ticks. Deer ticks are everywhere here and Lyme Disease is endemic. I treat the pets with Frontline Plus every month (still works on ticks here, not so much on fleas any more). But, there are always some stragglers. I pull them and drop them in a jar of alcohol.
The real key, here where Lyme is a big concern, is to check for ticks every single day (people, horses, dogs, cats...). If you get a tick off within 24 hours, and before it's become engorged, the chances of getting Lyme disease are reasonably remote. So, that's my basic strategy...rather than waging war on all ticks after we come out of the woods, I make sure that if they do get attached to anyone, I get them off as soon as possible. I do brush dogs and take of people clothes and shake them out if we've been in a heavily tick infested area...so we don't pick up ticks in our own home! There are too many here to go after all of them and try to get rid of them by laundering/vacuuming and other random attempts at killing them when they are loose and may or may not be in the environment.
Ticks hang out in woodland edges and long grass. You can make sure your dogs have whatever tick preventative you use. At one point, in MD (tick central) my dogs had both Frontline Plus applied and a Preventic Collar. That seemed to do the trick.
Now for you, the best thing is to wear sturdy shoes or boots, tuck your pants into your socks and spray your shoes, socks and lower pants legs with permethrin. If you're really nuts about them, run a band of duct tape where your socks meet your pants.
At the risk of grossing you out more, try to find any leftover ticks before the tick stuff kills them. Dead, dried-out clingers are actually super-gross too. Check the heads, the necks, and the legs of the dogs. That's the most likely areas for any ticks to be hanging out. I have a shaggy dog, so it's hell finding them. I basically shake her down after any nature hike in a ticky area (and the worst ticky areas, we save for winter) because while a tick in the house is gross, a tick IN MY CAR might kill me. I wait until we're back in the parking lot, then do the inspection. They're usually vaulting merrily up her legs, so I flick them off and we scurry 20' away and start over because I'm not about to mess around trying to kill the unkillable.