Brown dog tick control

On the dog. If you have unconfirmed suspicion or if there are only a few ticks, initially, you can simply remove the ticks and see what happens. If the suspicion has been confirmed, you can treat the dog with a pour-on product in the hair – the same kind that is used against fleas, alternatively, you can use flea collars or treat the dog’s fur with a powder-based pesticide for dogs. Control can also be exaggerated. Using too many products at the same time can make the dog sick. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian about the problem.

In the surrounding environment. High levels of infestation demand more drastic measures. Treat the house with a cat flea repellent combined with a bed bug repellent because the brown dog ticks virtually hide the same places as these pests and they spread in the same way.

Suspected brown dog tick infestation

Newly hatched brown dog tick larvae

Fig. 69 The newly hatched brown dog tick larva (left) is tiny. In the middle is a male. Of the four females (right), one is yet to feed. Silhouettes are in natural size.

Ticks on a dog are almost always caster bean ticks that just need to be removed. Caster bean ticks lose the ability to find a host when the temperature drops below 7 °C. If the dog has ticks when it is significantly colder outside, it may be brown dog ticks.

High levels of infestation in the house and ticks (especially blood-filled, gray females) on walls and ceilings may be brown dog ticks. Ticks that are found on dogs that have been imported from or returned from a vacation in the South, could be brown dog ticks.

Life cycle

Difference between brown dog tick and castor bean tick

Fig. 68 The brown dog tick is rather similar to the castor bean tick, however, the male’s carapace is larger and in a non-blood engorged female, you can see a ruffle pattern on the trailing edge of the body. Look for ticks in the locations indicated by the arrows.

The female lays 2000-4000 eggs at a time. The eggs reddish-brown and are placed in clusters high up on the walls, in cracks or behind paintings. The hatching time of the eggs is 19-60 days. The small larvae are clear, active and have only six legs. They are similar in appearance to the adults. The larvae seek out dogs and suck blood in protected spots – for example inside the ears or between the pads. Once they have sucked blood for 3-6 days, they are bigger, light gray and almost spherical. They detach from their hosts and seek out a hiding place where they digest and develop into 8-legged nymphs.

Nymphs also suck the dog’s blood and detach from it, hide and develop into adult males or females. Females and males are active and are 3-5 mm long. Males only feed for short periods of time before searching for females that are ready to mate in the dog fur. While males retain their shape after mating, females are engorged. They stay latched to the dog’s skin for 6-50 days and continue to grow as the eggs develop in their bodies. Females that are ready to mate are blue-gray and nearly 1 cm long. They then crawl up walls to find suitable egg-laying sites.

Life cycle duration depends on factors such as temperature. In particularly hot environments there are a few months between the generations. In cold environments it takes longer. The brown dog tick cannot survive outdoors in the Danish climate. Indoors, it can live for 18 months without having to feed.

The brown dog tick

Brown dog tick

Brown dog tick

The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, prefers dogs and rarely bites people. The species is widespread in warmer parts of the world. In Europe, it is mainly found in the Mediterranean. In Denmark, it is mostly seen on dogs that come from the south. In our parts of the world, the brown dog tick is found indoors. In appearance, it is similar to the castor bean tick. Usually, the circumstances under which the tick is found provide clues as to which species it belong. Brown dog ticks need to be controlled. The dogs can fall ill from their bites, the mites can spread to other dogs and in homes. Controlling the brown dog tick is difficult and the successful method is a mix of flea control methods and bed bugs control methods.


As a guest in the tick habitat, you must either accept the risk of being bitten or stay away. Dogs cannot avoid the ticks. People can protect themselves with rubber boots and spray tick repellent on clothes and skin.


In connection with campsites, spraying with insecticide can be the only practical solution. On uncultivated lands, you can either choose to tolerate the ticks or cultivate the land. Ticks do not care for cultivated fields and gardens.


When you need to know if a place is infested with castor bean ticks, drag a flag of white flannel, 50 cm x 100 cm, through the tick habitat. Ticks will then sit on the flag, and they are easy to count. You can also drag piece of wood with flannel through the tick habitat.

Tick removal

Castor bean tick larvae and female ticks

Fig. 67. Castor bean tick top: larvae. In the middle: a male. Bottom: two females. One has fed and is the same size as the ticks often are when discovered on the skin. (Natural size).

As evidenced, there are valid reasons why contact with the castor bean tick should be avoided. If you are bitten by the castor bean tick, be sure to remove it quickly. There are special tick pesticides that ease removal of ticks. A gentle spray of the ticks with an insect spray containing pyrethrin I and II + piperonyl butoxide have the same effect. Shampoos containing the same substances can be used if a human or a pet is infested by many ticks.

Household remedies. All other measures are basically household remedies. Common to the household remedies are that they are close at hand. It may be gasoline, petroleum, grease, nail polish, cigarette ignition, etc. Each method has its sworn devotees.

A 90° turn. If you just pull the tick it may break the ticks’ body. Many take the chance anyway – with or without household remedies – and remove the legs and mouth parts with a needle, tweezers or adhesive plaster afterwards. In order to remove the whole tick, be sure to pinch the skin together under the tick, so that the bite wound expands. Then twist the tick 90° and gently pull it out. The wound should be disinfected.