Dog being fitted with flea and tick collar

Ticks & Pets

Dogs and other outdoor pets can get tick bites and tickborne diseases. Vaccines are not available for all tickborne diseases that dogs or other animals can get, and vaccines do not prevent your animals from bringing ticks into your home. It is important to do daily tick checks on humans and pets and use a tick preventative product on your cats and dogs.

Tick bites on dogs and other animals may be hard to spot, so you should try to avoid areas that are likely to have ticks. You should watch for changes in behavior or appetite if your pet was recently in a tick habitat or you removed a tick from your pet. Signs of a tickborne disease may not appear for 7-21 days after a bite.

What are the symptoms of tickborne diseases in pets?[1],[2],[3]

  • Lameness or reluctance to move ("Shifting leg lameness" is a common sign of Lyme disease)
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow-moving
  • Bruising on gums or stomach, spontaneous nosebleeds (Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis)
  • Kidney disease (glomerulonephritis) secondary to Lyme disease, seems to be more common in Labradors and Golden Retrievers[4]
  • Nervous system complications (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever)
  • Heart abnormalities are a rare symptom
  • Tickborne diseases are most common in dogs, but can affect cats and horses as well.

When should I perform tick checks on my pet?

  • You should do a tick check on your pet every time your animal comes in from outside.
  • Remove ticks with a pair of fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal spoon.

How effective are "spot on" products, collars, and chewable tick prevention products that are available for my pet?

  • Spot on products: Frontline (fipronil, (s)-methoprene)[5], Advantix/Advantage (imidacloprid, permethrin)[6], and Vectra 3D (permethrin, dinotefuran, pyriproxyfen)[7], are effective for four weeks and must be applied monthly as directed. Bravecto (fluralaner) (topical Bravecto) has a topical preparation and is effective for twelve weeks.[8] This is available for both cats and dogs.
  • Tick collar: Seresto (active ingredients Flumethrin & Imidacloprid)[9] is effective for eight months and can be worn while your pet is swimming.
  • Chewable products: Nexgard (afoxolaner)[10] is effective for four weeks and should be given monthly as directed. Bravecto (fluralaner) (chewable Bravecto)[11] is effective for twelve weeks. Bravecto and Nexgard are labeled for dogs only.
  • Essential oils (oil of lemon eucalyptus) may be used sparingly in dogs (talk to your veterinarian) but are NOT recommended for use in cats. There are reports of adverse reactions including agitation and hypersalivation in cats and lethargy and vomiting in dogs.[12]

Is there a vaccine against tickborne diseases for pets?

  • Vaccines to prevent Lyme disease are approved for use in dogs only. However, a growing number of veterinarians are using the dog vaccine off-label in horses.[13],[14]
  • The vaccine schedule for dogs is:
    • Initial vaccine
    • A booster two to four weeks after the initial vaccine
    • Yearly revaccination

Should I use permethrin containing products on my cat?

  • No, cats are very sensitive to permethrin. Inappropriate or accidental use of permethrin spot-on products labelled for dogs can lead to tremors, seizure, or even death when applied to cats.[15],[16]
  • The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) reports permethrin as one of the most common cat toxicities.[17]
  • Cats can be exposed to permethrin from topical products, oral ingestion, and direct contact with topically treated dogs.[16]
  • Signs of permethrin poisoning may show up within the first 72 hours of exposure.[16] Speak to your veterinarian if your cat develops signs of permethrin poisoning.


  1. Straubinger, R.K. (2015). Overview of Lyme borreliosis (Lyme disease). Merck Veterinary Manual (online edition). Retrieved from
  2. Savić, S., Vidić, B., Lazić, S., Lako, B., Potkonjak, A., & Lepšanović, Z. (2010). Borrelia burgdorferi in ticks and dogs in the province of Vojvodina, Serbia. Parasite, 17, 357-361.
  3. IDEXX Laboratories. (2012). Dogs and ticks. Retrieved from
  4. Litman, M.P. (2013). Lyme nephritis. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 23(2), 163-173. doi: 10.1111/vec.12026
  5. Carithers, D., Everett, W.R., Gross, S.J., & Solanki, R. (2015). Efficacy of a proprietary formulation of fipronil/(S)-methoprene/cyphenothrin against Ixodes scapularis tick infestations on dogs. Parasites & Vectors, 17(8), 379. doi:10.1186/s13071-015-0992-1
  6. Otranto, D., Lia, R.P., Cantacessi, C., Paradies, P., Mallia, E., & Capelli, G. (2005). Efficacy of a combination of imidacloprid 10%/permethrin 50% versus fipronil 1-%/(S)-methoprene 12%, against tick sin naturally infected dogs. Veterinary Parasitology, 130(3-4), 293-304.
  7. Blair, J., Fourie, J.J., Varloud, M., & Horak, I.G. (2016). Efficacy and speed of kill of a topically applied forumation of dinotefuran-permethrin-pyriproxyfen against weekly tick infestations with Rhipicephalus sanguineus (sensu lato) on dogs. Parasites & Vectors, 9(1), 283. doi: 10.1186/s13071-016-1561-y
  8. Kilp, S., Ramirez, D., Allan, M.J., & Roepke, R.K.A. (2016). Comparative pharmacokinetics of fluralanter in dogs and cats following single topical or intravenous administration. Parasites & Vectors, 9, 296. doi: 10.1186/s13071-016-1564-8
  9. de Burgh, S., Hunter, K., Jackson, C., Chambers, M., Klupiec, C., & Smilth, V. (2017). Repellency effect of an Imidacloprid/Flumethrin (Seresto) controlled release polymer matrix collar against the Australian paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) in dogs. Parasitology Research, 166 (Suppl 1), 145-156. doi: 10.1007/s00436-017-5500-4
  10. Baker, C.F., McCall, J.W., McCall, S.D., Drag, M.D., Mitchell, E.B., Chester, S.T., & Larsen, D. (2016). Ability of an oral formulation of afoxolaner to protect dogs from Borrelia burgdorferi infection transmitted by wild Ixodes scapularis ticks. Comparative Immunology, Microbiology, & Disease Surveillances, 49, 65-69. doi: 10.1016/j.cimid.2016.09.004
  11. Williams, H., Demeler, J., Taenzler, J., Roepke, R.K.A., Zschiesche, E., & Heckeroth, A.R. (2015). A quantitative evaluation of the extent of fluralaner uptake by ticks (Ixodes ricinus, Ixodes scapularis) in fluralaner (Bravecto) treated vs. untreated dogs using the parameters tick weight and coxal index. Parasites & Vectors, 8(352), 1-8. doi: 10.1186/s13071-015-0963-6
  12. Genovese, A.G., McLean, M.K., & Khan, S.A. (2012). Adverse reactions from essential oil-containing natural flea products exempted from Environmental Protection Agency regulations in dogs and cats. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 22(4), 470-475. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-4431.2012.00780.x
  13. LaFleur, R.L., Dant, J.C., Wasmoen, T.L., Callister, S.M., Jobe, D.A., Lovrich, S.D.,…Schell, R.E. (2009). Bacterin that induces anti-OspA and anti-OspC borreliacidal antibodies provides a high level of protection against canine Lyme disease. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 16(2), 253–259. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00373-08
  14. Guarino, C., Asbie, S., Rohde, J., Glaser, A., & Wagner, B. (2017). Vaccination of horses with Lyme vaccines for dogs induces short-lasting antibody responses. Vaccine, 35(33), 4140-4147. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2017.06.052
  15. Richardson, J.A. (2000). Permethrin spot-on toxicoses in cats. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, 10(2), 103-106. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-4431.2000.tb00006.x
  16. DeGroot, W.D. (2014). Intravenous lipid emulsion for treating permethrin toxicosis in a cat. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 55(1), 1253-1254.
  17. Dunayer, E.K., & Merola, V. (2006). The 10 most common toxicoses in cats. Veterinary Medicine, 101, 339-342.