In general, parasites also have a benefit. They help to regulate the population of other living beings. Many parasites strengthen the immune system of animals, which may have a positive long-term influence on the further development of their species.
But does this also include ticks?
Ticks are still among the mostly unknown creatures. It has been proven, however, that ticks are very nutritious for other beings such as birds or mushrooms and are therefore an important element in the food chain for certain species.
Furthermore, there are interesting studies in cancer research. Brazilian researchers at the Butantan Institute in Sao Paolo have found a molecule in the saliva of ticks that kills malignant cells and may therefore be useful in the fight against cancer. Tick saliva has been used to successfully treat animals with skin, pancreatic and kidney cancer as well as metastases in the lungs.
As you can see, ticks also have their raison d'être
How do ticks find their host?
Contrary to popular belief that ticks fall from trees, ticks need body contact to find their host. They therefore climb grasses and bushes to wait for their sacrifice. To find a host, they use their so-called Haller's organ, which is located in the front pair of legs. This enables them to detect smells that indicate the presence of a potential victim. Ammonia, butyric acid, carbon monoxide are substances that attract ticks and are secreted by humans and animals in breath and sweat. Ticks also prefer slightly moist, warm and well vascularised thin skin.
When the tick bites, it releases saliva containing substances that form a kind of paste and anchor the barbs firmly in the skin. At the same time the puncture site is anaesthetised and the normal wound reaction of the skin, such as inflammation and blood coagulation, is prevented.
The saliva released may contain bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, e.g. TBE viruses. With the puncture they can pass into the wound. Therefore, even a quick removal of the tick cannot prevent a TBE infection.
The pathogen of Lyme disease, the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is not located in the salivary glands but in the midgut of the tick. It enters the host body with the excretions of the tick. It is assumed that they only enter the blood of the host after many hours of suction.
How can I protect my pet?
First of all, you should examine your pet for ticks after each outdoors stay and remove them immediately. Many pathogens that cause illness are only transmitted when the tick has been sucking for 12 to 24 hours. Further precautions may be: contact antiparasitica and the Lyme disease vaccination.
Contrary to humans, dogs can be vaccinated against Lyme disease. The permanent animal vaccination committee (StIKo Vet.) recommends vaccination for all dogs at risk of infection. Vaccination against Lyme disease is also recommended before holidays in areas with ticks
Tick protection without chemicals?
If you want to avoid the chemical anti-parasitic agents against ticks due to their side effects, you can first try to use some alternatives to natural tick prevention. Unfortunately, there is no remedy that works equally in dogs and cats, as each metabolism is different.
There are various feed additives whose effect is to change the skin metabolism and thus make the animals unattractive to ticks. However, care should also be taken with the additives. In case of doubt, you should consult a specialist in natural therapies and nutrition for animals.
The following additives are often used for tick prophylaxis: coconut oil, black cumin oil, garlic and B vitamins (brewer's yeast). However, it should be noted that black cumin oil, for example, contains a high content of essential compounds that can damage the liver. It is therefore not recommended to use the product over a long period of time and in high doses.
Garlic and B vitamins or brewer's yeast can be tried, but the effect is different for each animal. The garlic should not be overdosed, and it should be fresh. Beer yeast should also be dosed carefully, as too high a dose can lead to flatulence. Since excessive B vitamins are excreted through the urine, overdosing is relatively impossible. Cats cannot tolerate garlic or black cumin oil.
Can I protect my pet against ticks by means of nutrition?
In this respect, the immune system plays a special role. Dry and wet foods contain many antioxidants, preservatives and often also poorly digestible food components, which strain the organism.
It is recommended to feed the animals according to their needs, with fresh nutrients, bitter substances, natural vitamins, enzymes and minerals that are easy to digest. This strengthens and keeps intact the intestinal flora, one of the most important factors for a well-functioning immune system.
Unfortunately, all of these measures are not a panacea for ticks and we certainly cannot keep the ticks away or reduce the infestation, but the organism has a better chance of dealing with pathogenic pathogens itself without an outbreak of the disease if the immune defence is strong.
Reference: Reuter, Ute wadehn, www.zecken.de, wikipedia, medizininfo.de