Disclosure: This article is about natural tick prevention and there are affiliate links in this blog post, meaning that at no cost to you, if you click through and make a qualifying purchase, I will earn a commission as an Amazon Associate. Thank you!
It’s Tick Season!
Are you looking for natural tick prevention? Are you concerned about ticks in your area and the health of your dog and family? Do you let the fear of ticks keep you from doing things you used to love to do like hike or camp? I understand these fears, I had them and to some extent still have them. Let me explain…
So, a couple of years ago a neighbor was letting my dog out while I was at work. For whatever reason, my dog got spooked, broke away from my neighbor and ran away!! It was horrible. Fortunately, I have many amazing people in my neighborhood, and they all helped to look for her, even putting out signs in the area.
I live near a busy highway and there are also coyotes in the area, so I was terrified I would never see her again. As night fell and still no sight of her, I felt all was lost, I was inconsolable. When I went to bed that night, I brought a blanket, water and food into the garage and left it open enough for her to get in if she did happen to come home.
Sometime in the Night…
Something woke me up at around 3:30-4 the next morning, and I had a glimmer of hope that maybe she was in the garage. I went to the garage and called out, but nothing, I was heartbroken and horribly swollen from crying for the last 16 hours.
I went back inside, and started back up the stairs, when something made me turn back and try again. I opened the door and called and there she was!! It was such a miracle; I can’t begin to tell you. I thought for sure if she wasn’t hit by a car, she was attacked by a coyote. But here she was, safe and sound!!
We went upstairs and I woke my husband, and we just all cuddled on the couch then. Until, I found a tick!! Now ticks really freak me out, I knew someone who had Lyme’s disease and it is not pretty.
Fortunately, I had purchased the Tick Twister years ago, so I got it, and removed the tick. Then I found another, and another! I got a small jar and filled it with rubbing alcohol and proceeded to remove the ticks, placing each one in the alcohol bath.
Ugh. Over the course of the next 24 hours we pulled off 26 ticks total! I swear I have tick PTSD from it. Since then, I have been scared to bring her to places where ticks thrive. But that is no way to live. Fiona gets bored just walking around the neighborhood. When I take her to a park she totally perks up, she smiles and prances around, how can I deny her that happiness because of my fears? So, what is the answer? Get educated!
So how do you prevent ticks without harsh chemical drugs that can cause terrible side effects, especially in small dogs? It can be such an overwhelming topic, maybe making you afraid to venture out into nature like me. Which is no way to live. So, let’s break it down into some more manageable chunks. Natural tick prevention is possible!
The best place to start is always from the inside out. A high-quality raw diet is the best, but not always possible. We currently feed Stella Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Surf N Turf Dinner Patties. It is much easier and cleaner than feeding actual raw meat. Not sure if it is as effective as actual raw meat, but Fiona seems to be thriving on it. We also supplement with Earthborn Holistic Meadow Feast Grain Free Dry Dog Food kibble. So, she gets both patties and kibble. We also add Mad About Organics Oral Care Food Additive, which helps control plaque and tartar and also helps to repel fleas!
In 10 years’ time the only problem we have ever had with fleas was when we first got her and the breeder recommended we feed Purina Puppy Chow. That is the only time in 10 years she ever had any fleas, and we go outside, a lot!! I hate being inside when it is nice out.
At the time we used chemicals to remove the fleas, ugh I shudder to think. We didn’t know any better. She was still so small; I can hardly stand to think of it. I remember her howling as we tried to dip in her in the tub full of chemicals. But that is when my journey to holistic dog care began. May God and Fiona forgive me!
Grooming your Pet
Giving your dog a good brushing before going outside helps too. It allows you easier access to the skin to check later on. It also gets rid of snarls and mats that ticks can hide in. (Richard H Pitcairn, 2005)
This is when I give my dog a spay down of a homemade tick deterrent remedy, it is a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. When you smell it, you will know why ticks don’t like it!
The good news is the smell dissipates as it dries, so no worries about a stinky dog later! If you plan to be out for an extended period of time where the spray will dry up, bring extra along so you can refresh it, and have it keep working all the while you are out.
The other good news is that it will work on humans too! So spray yourself down as well.
Checking for Ticks
So, after a walk it is always good to do a quick tick check, even if the walk wasn’t in a very ‘ticky’ environment. I do the ‘nose to toes’ method, which is basically starting at the head and systematically working your way down to the toes. Make sure you pay special attention to:
- Under the collar.
- Ears, behind and inside.
- Under the armpits and groin area.
- Base of tail.
- Between the toes. (Yes, this happens, I pulled one off of Fi there- gross!)
*The faster you find and remove the ticks, the less chance there is disease transmittal.
So, if you find a tick on your dog, don’t just try to pull it off with your fingernails. Ticks are nasty creatures that can transmit disease. It is suggested that you wear disposable gloves, if you don’t have any, just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after removal.
You will need:
- Disposable gloves
- A Tick Twister, or a tweezers
- A small glass jar filled ½ way or so with rubbing alcohol.
- Something to clean the bite area.
- It also helps to have a partner, but not necessary.
I personally love the Tick Twister tool; it is pretty easy to use.
You just get under the tick as close to skin as possible. Then get the tick positioned between the ‘tines’ of the Tick Twister and begin to slowly pull up while twisting at the same time, using a very light touch. The simple act of twisting while pulling up causes the tick to release its hold on your dog, then you can pop it into the alcohol bath. And watch it die a very horrible death, nasty buggars.
The idea is to not break the tick during removal because they are so full of disease, Ugh. So, go slow and keep a firm but steady pressure. If you are using a tweezer, just use the same principle. Grip it as close to your dog’s skin as possible and slowly lift and twist until the tick releases. Then into the alcohol bath.
Next you can clean the bite area. So, my dog has rather thick hair, she as a double coat. I have pulled ticks off only to go back after disposing of the tick and was not able to find the original bite spot. So, don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t either, just do the best you can. Maybe your partner can be ready to clean the spot after tick removal, that would probably work best.
After Tick Removal
After tick removal you want to watch your dog for any changes in behavior or signs of illness. Also, you could put a drop of lavender oil on the bite site, or aloe vera to speed healing. (If you can find the bite spot.) Some recommend hanging on to the tick that was removed in case your dog does show signs of illness. The vet can then test the tick for disease.
Natural Tick Prevention Sprays
There are tons of recipes on the internet for natural tick prevention sprays, all you have to do is Google it. I prefer my simple recipe, well, because it is really simple, and leaves no oily residue which ones that are full of essential oils might. I love essential oils, don’t get me wrong, but I am also sort of lazy.
So here is the recipe, it’s super hard to make…
- 1:1 apple cider vinegar to water.
That’s all, half water half apple cider vinegar, combine in a spray bottle. (How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help Your Dog, 2017) Spray on to your dog when going out into tick infested areas. Be careful not to get spray in your dog’s eyes, it stings. I know this because I got it in my eyes! And spray some onto yourself as well as it works to deter ticks from humans too!
If you really can’t stand the smell, feel free to add a drop or two of some essential oils to the mix.
Good oils for natural flea and tick prevention are: (Grande, 2017)
- Cedarwood (Grande, 2017)
So, what do you use for flea and tick prevention? Do you use natural tick prevention methods? Let me know in the comments below!
Grande, M. (2017, June 12). Essential Oils to Kill Ticks. Retrieved May 2019, from Medium: https://medium.com/@holisticaromatherapy/essential-oils-to-kill-ticks-26c182cf3b5b
How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help Your Dog. (2017, November 14). Retrieved May 2019, from Petnet: https://www.petnet.io/blogs/health-and-fitness/apple-cider-vinegar-can-help-dog
Richard H Pitcairn, D. P. (2005). Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Cats & Dogs. Rodale.