Can we talk about ticks?

Can those of you who are in the northeast talk me through the tick thing, slowly, with small words? Ticks were never a concern when I was in Colorado (nearly all of my horse/dog/cat keeping) and were barely an issue in MN (I saw a dog tick on a horse ONCE, crawling, not biting.)

I get that ticks are a Serious Deal here but I am really lacking in all of the necessary tick skills. I feel up my horses daily, but I haven’t found any ticks yet. I did find a crusty spot on Blush, under her jaw, so I feel like I’m probably missing stuff. I know deer ticks are tiny. I have found ticks crawling on ME and dispatched them.

My horses are still furry…should I be clipping their warm hairy places so I can check more easily? Should I be doing a spot on treatment even through winter? Or Frontline spray?

And what are red flag signs for the common tick borne diseases? If I see signs, is that an ER vet call, or a tomorrow is fine vet call? Do you test for stuff yearly, or only when you have a concern?

I need a “explain to me like I’m five” primer here. Ticks are seriously icky and freak me out. I’m worried about my ponies and lyme disease and anaplasmosis and the other nasties they can get. I know this is old hat for many of you, but so, so new to me :frowning:

I don’t know much about them, but I found one on my horse’s inner thigh yesterday! It’s been close to 60 degrees the past few days, and today we had a snowstorm. Who knew they’d be out now!!

Simkie, here’s a really simple explanation: come back to Colorado!!! :smiley:

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Ah yes, welcome to Connecticut, the combination of the dry summer last year and the very mild winter this year is sort of a perfect storm for ticks. I’ve already found a few and my vet says she’s had a ton of “tick fever” calls already.

I keep legs and under the jaw clipped…these seem to be prime areas, particularly under the jaw. Other than that, they’ll be shed out soon enough.

I’d talk to your vet about tick prevention, they do usually recommend just using the spot protection year-round. (Some horses have bad reactions to it though, so make sure to test on an area where it’s ok if all the hair falls out.) I just use fly spray with permethrin and douse them. I just made of my first batch when I found the first tick.

Lyme symptoms are usually fairly vague, so that’s something we draw a titer for every spring, and I usually pull one in the fall as well.

Stuff like Anaplasmosis is more acute, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether you need the vet out now or if you have the supplies so it can wait. Symptoms: swollen legs, fever (sometimes HIGH), anorexia, diarrhea, etc etc. I’ve had horses show mild symptoms, I touch base with the vet, and they say, give banamine, cold hose, and maybe start antibiotics. (I keep banamine, SMZs and sometimes Doxy on hand. Last fall my youngster had a severe case, so the vet came out at 10pm on Saturday night, and he got IV oxytet, 10L IV fluids, banamine, dex. His legs were so swollen he eventually got IV DMSO, 5 days of IV oxytet, and then 30 days of minocylcine.

If you’ve never dealt with it before, it might be better to err on the side of calling the vet, particularly if your horses have never been exposed before. I wouldn’t worry too much though, you’ve had horses for I’m guessing a long time and know your horses well…the symptoms aren’t generally subtle.

So Lyme, probably not an emergency call, you’re unlikely to catch the acute infection, and while they might be uncomfortable, they’re also not going to start going downhill, so the vet can wait. Other tick fevers, as I said, you know your horses, you’ll likely know if it’s an emergency call or not.

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  1. Ticks do NOT die in the cold weather. The colder it gets the deeper they burrow,into the ground.

  2. Either talk to your vets or Google “types of ticks” in your area, then read up in the diseases they carry. Lames is a very common disease. I am in the south east where Lone Star ticks seem to outnumber the deer ticks, at least in my area. They carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which is transmitted to humans.

  3. Get yourself a palm sized LED flashlight and examine all the horse’s nether areas. I have pulled ticks from just inside the sheath of my one gelding, off the anus, alongside, up in the crease where the leg joins the body, along the edges of the tail dock, the bottom of the tail bone, in the ears, under the jowels. Anyplace you think you find them you will.

3.1. I keep a jar with a screw-on lid sprayed with fly spray and carry it with me from stall to stall when I Check the horses. That way when I pull a tick, I Can put it directly into the jar.

FWIW, I spent my first summer in the south throwing up, when I found ticks in my horses - that was 13 years ago. Tick pulling has been blasé for,the last 12 years, lol

Also, some types of ticks (Lone Star for one) love pine trees and cedar trees, if you trail ride spray Deep Woods OFF! on your and your horse to help keep the ticks off.

if it’s warm enough to bath your horse after a trail ride, shampoo with a betadyne shampoo. That stuff will make the ticks stand straight up and easy to find.

One of my horses had horrible allergic reactions to tick bites. I keep hemorrhoid ointment and Triple antibiotic at the barn. Mix the two and put on the tick bite to help with itch, swelling, healing.

far as my dogs, I keep a Seresto collar on one and use Advantage II on the very short haired red dog with red skin who,is sensitive to the Seresto color. Frontline hasn’t worked for quite a few years.

Good luck, ticks are gross but believe me, you will get used to pulling them off and find joy in throwing them into,the “tick jar” while they are still alive:) :slight_smile:

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I’ve already pulled off a deer tick and I’m already dealing with my first run of anaplasmosis. Joy.

Went for a trail ride last week and pulled over 40 of the little suckers off when I got back, thankfully that horse was grey so they stood out! They were super tiny (think size of grain of sand at the beach) and fast moving up the legs. Think In total we got around 45 off him. Next day one had bitten in so that was the only one missed.

Use off on your horses legs and tail… This time of year they are brushing off of plants onto anything that walks by. Then they will climb up as quickly as they can till they find a good place (warm and protected) to latch onto.

Horrid little things; and the only thing I enjoy killing! Just love listening to them snap and having a line of little corpses…

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If there are any trees in or near your pasture, getting all the leaves out will help keep the ticks out as well. They hide in the leaf debris and wait for something warm to wander by for them to latch onto. Other than that, fly spray for the legs and belly will also help to deter them. I’ve never tried a spot on treatment so I can’t speak to that.

NPR said this is supposed to be the worst ever year for ticks. I’ve already found tons of them on the dogs. This is what I use on the dogs and have had very good success. Never a tick when they have it on. Just got new ones yesterday and don’t have to worry about irritation like the collars. As far as the horses go your best defense is pasture maintenance. Ticks like long grass, trees, shrubs, and leaves. If you keep the grass cut and don’t have any trees shrub or leaves you shouldn’t have any issues with ticks in the paddock. Some fly sprays also deter ticks as well. We haven’t had any issues with lymes with the animals but my husband did get it last year. Fortunately he had the classic bulls eye spot and was quickly caught and treated. So make sure to check yourself too! It can be a devastating disease (and often misdiagnosed) if it goes unnoticed for too long

I have dealt with ticks for decades. Simply spray your horse daily with fly spray. From hooves to ears and nose to tail. Fly spray keeps ticks away. Spot on treatments require that a tick bite your horse before the tick dies. The salvia in tick bites can transmit diseases so spot on treatments are not as good as spraying fly spray. Ticks get on bushes and drop down on people and dogs and horses and cows, etc. So they don’t just crawl up the legs of horses, they jump off of bushes and all to get on horses.

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I forgot something:)

When you have to pull a tick off, make sure you grab it correctly, pull straight back quickly and the head comes out.

The reason for that is ticks do regurgitate back into their host when they feel threatened.

OP? Are you still reading? I hope so because this too shall pass and before ha know it, you will have your own bag of tick tricks that you will casually pass along to the next inexperienced tick pulling person:)

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We’ve found Freedom45 “spot on” treatment effective in reducing the irritation of flies and it causes ticks who bite to die. Not an ideal situation but here in East TN it’s part of our plan. Should work in CT, also!


I’m still reading! I’m kinda horrified. I like @keysfins idea of going back to Colorado. :lol:

Okay, so. I will clip the jaws and long leg hair bits on my ponies and lay in a case of Freedom 45. Fly spray backup (or Frontline spray??) The fields and their runs are already short with no leaf cover. I’ll continue checking for ticks everyday, with the help of a flashlight. And I’ll get a tick jar (shudder) for the bodies. (WHHHHHY do we not have Seresto collar type things for horses???)

All that sounds good?

The vet is supposed to be out next week for dentals and rabies–although scheduled for Tues, now 12+ inches of snow predicted, so may shift–and I will also ask them for their thoughts. Dove is acting a little off…maybe something ticky, maybe just a hard first heat cycle? Of course my horse thermometer went MIA in the move, so will pick up another today. She is NQR but nothing worrisome enough for an ER vet call.


Permethrin-based spray repellents (for horses) are your best defense. There is also a permethrin spray especially created for fabrics that kills ticks when they crawl on it – so you could spray a set of polo bandages for when you’re out trail riding. And of course your own pant legs when you’re ‘out in the field’.

Here’s a link:


Permethrins sprays don’t kill or repel ticks,i’ve used it before we go trail riding. Horses come back with ticks crawling all over their legs. Anything water based does nothing to repel ticks. Best thing to use that works is Deet repellents that has 40 percent Deet. Spray horses down with that before a ride and you won’t have a tick on them.

I live in tick country i know what works for ticks and doesn’t. Permethrins don’t work. I’ve come home from trail rides to find and pick off over 50 ticks…horse was sprayed down in permethrin spray. Even oil based sprays don’t repel the little buggers.

I wonder if you could braid a Seresto collar into the tail and a piece of one into the mane? Is the chemical in it safe for horses?

Huh. Well, both chemicals in it are approved for horse use, although the tick one isn’t available in the US. It’s this stuff.

Maybe braiding one into the mane and one into the tail isn’t a crazy idea. Expensive experiment, though…

Do any of the cheaper Flea and tick collars still work for ticks? Hartz maybe?

Have you considered putting a little Swat, or Vaseline in the horses’ ears to keep ticks out? Ticks in the ears are HELL to deal with.

Permethrin does kill ticks - scientifically proved. But it is a CONTACT killer. I should have clarified that. :o

Ticks (actively crawling on a horse AFTER a trail ride) need to be sprayed/hit by droplets in order to die.

So a thorough spray after a ride is important – otherwise, nymph ticks, that are very hard to see, could be missed if you’re standing there trying to pick off ticks by hand. Best to spray – then wait a few minutes before giving a bath. That way you won’t be washing off a pile of ‘healthy’ ticks that will lie in wait for their next host.

DEET – since it’s an EVAPORATOR - VAPOR REPELLANT works really well on flying insects. But it does not kill or even disable ticks – does seem to repel them – though not 100%.

Fabric properly treated with permethrin will also KILL TICKS when they crawl on the fabric – even after repeated washings. Fact! This is why Tick Tubes are so effective.

As far as non-chemical TICK REPELLANTS go: Apparently ticks hate the smell of eucalyptus oil – also don’t like neem oil – and rose geranium oil. I haven’t tried any of these, either combined or on their own – so I can’t say. Worth experimenting with I would think. Get some of each – put on an index cards – find a healthy tick – put tick on each card and see what happens!

I have started using Farnam WIPE in a soap dispenser wand to wipe down the legs/armpits/midline of abdomen. I put a little on a cloth and wipe their faces down too. This seems to work pretty well. I also use EquiSpot every 2 weeks and fly spray with Absorbine in the black bottle. So far, so good. The war on flies and ticks never seems to end here :frowning: