5 Ways To Protect Your Pets From Ticks Naturally

In Portland, Oregon, last week, a beloved collie was slated for euthanasia because of paralysis. He was actually in the veterinary room being prepared for that final injection when an intern spotted something behind his ear. It was a tick, and the vet knew, in rare instances, the neurotoxins from a tick bite can cause paralysis. Ollie the collie was treated and is now back home with his owners.

Ollie’s close call is just one example of the threat tick bites pose to pets and people. Although paralysis is uncommon, that’s not the case with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Rather than use powerful, potentially toxic chemicals to keep ticks off your pets, consider natural ways that take a bit more effort but won’t harm you or your animal.

Ticks are three-season pests

Spring and summer’s warm weather means tick season, but so does autumn. Actually, that’s prime tick season. Ticks survive until the initial killing frost, but many don’t succumb. During winter, ticks will look for meals on days when the temperature rises above freezing. If you live in a warm climate, you’ll deal with them all year long. That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant against the tick scourge.

Tick-proof your yard

Do your best to make your yard, or the area where your dog goes outside, a tick-free zone. This means keeping the lawn trimmed and getting rid of brush or wood piles that hide squirrels and other small rodents — these are the creatures that help circulate tick larvae and nymphs. Order nematodes — beneficial, miniscule worms — and place them in your soil. These worms consume tick larvae.   

Construct barriers made of  gravel or wood chips between your lawn and wooded areas. Ticks avoid these demarcations and stay in the vegetation.

Happy trails

When taking your dog for a walk or going on a hike, stay in the middle of trails and avoid the vegetation at the edges. Don’t let your dog off-lead where he can run through brush. Ticks live on grasses and similar plants, attaching themselves to passers-by. Conduct a thorough tick check after every outing — on both Fido and yourself.

Soap that puppy

Bathe your dog regularly with an organic shampoo containing tea tree or peppermint oil, and rinse off the suds with a solution consisting of equal parts water and apple cider vinegar. Regular brushing and bathing gives you the opportunity to give your dog a head-to-toe tick and flea check.  

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth, or DE, is comprised of the fossilized shells of ancient algae. While safe for people and pets, it’s lethal to ticks and fleas. Once an insect comes into contact with DE, it latches on and eventually sucks the moisture out of their bodies. Make sure you only use food-grade not pool-grade DE on your pets or in your home. Sprinkle DE lightly on your pet’s body and on his sleeping areas. If you discover a tick infestation in your home, vacuum thoroughly and then dust carpet with DE. Wait three days and vacuum again. This picks up dead ticks and their eggs.

Help deter ticks from entering your dwelling by placing DE around your home’s foundation. Repeat after rainstorms.

Tick removal

Again, conduct a thorough tick check every time your dog comes back into the house from the outdoors. Search all the canine nooks and crannies, such as behind the ears, between the toes and in his “armpits.” If you find a tick on your pet, it’s crucial to remove it correctly. You’ll need:

  •         tweezers
  •         gloves
  •         isopropyl alcohol
  •         small jar or similar container with lid
  •         antiseptic
  •         cotton balls

Pour a few capfuls of the isopropyl alcohol into the jar. Gently grasp the tick with the tweezers, placing them as close to your pet’s skin as possible. Pull the tick out with a firm, straight motion. Make sure you get rid of the entire tick and don’t leave the head behind. Put the tick in the jar and close the lid. Put antiseptic on a cotton ball and clean the bite wound. Keep an eye on it, and call your vet if it appears infected. If you visit the vet, bring the dead tick along with you for possible analysis.

—Jane Meggitt

Recommended Articles