The pleasant summer weather lures us to step into nature on exciting adventures. Of course, as a dog parent, you know that your furry companion is ready to join you at any moment; after all, who can say “no” to a thrilling trip to the lake or a national park? But, unfortunately, small and unwanted travel companions could affect our journey home. That’s right; today, we are going to discuss the subject of ticks!
Since we are deep into the flea-and-tick season, we decided to see if we could educate more on everything about ticks, from symptoms to transmitted diseases and tick removal. After all, although tick bites are painless, they could potentially transmit life-threatening diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, Lyme disease, and so on.
Of course, most dog tick bites will remain inoffensive and not jeopardize your dog’s general health. However, as a dog owner, risking your canine companion’s health is truly unwarranted. For that reason, here at Volhard, we would like to teach you how to prevent dog tick bites in a natural, dog-friendly way, without resorting to expensive medicine or commercial flea/tick collars! With our simple, DIY strategies, your puppy will be free to explore the world and enjoy the beautiful weather at will!
Dog Tick Bite Causes
Ticks are parasitic critters that use other animals as hosts to feed. They must go through this blood-feasting process to develop from larvae and nymphs to the adult stage. Ticks are sensitive to warmth and motion – they attach to and bite passing mammals, such as dogs, cats, or people. Once their mouthparts attach to the host, the ticks begin the blood feast. As a rule of thumb, the feast can last anywhere from several hours to days, during which the ticks will stay clutched to the host.
Several tick species thrive throughout the United States, especially in tall grass, shrubs, and woodland terrain, as they lay waiting for a potential host. Out of these, the American dog tick, the Lone Star tick, the Brown dog tick, and the Deer tick are the most frequent, with the latter being a notorious spreader of Lyme disease. Depending on the species, they can survive anywhere between several months and a few years. Prevention is the best way to avoid the itching and the devastating effects of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan encephalitis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis, just to name a few, that can be transmitted by tick bites.
Where to look for ticks
Because ticks are small and their bites don’t itch, they are easily overlooked, especially adult deer ticks and the nymphs of any species. Ticks prefer warm, moist conditions, so double-check under collars and around ears. If you aren’t sure what a lump or bump is, inspect it with a magnifying glass. Warts, similar skin growths, and nipples can feel like feeding ticks.
Why Would My Dog Be Bitten?
The answer to this question lies in the ticks’ preying strategy. Since they are preying upon easier victims, ticks primarily target unhealthy dogs, and the answer is straightforward – the victim’s feeble state facilitates the ticks’ feeding process.
Nevertheless, how do ticks tell the difference between frail and strong victims? The answer is their keen sense of smell, which allows ticks to notice the chemicals released through the potential victim’s skin. Specific chemical releases attract different bacteria and parasites, including ticks. As long as these chemicals linger on your puppy’s skin, it will remain an easy tick prey, especially if it walks through a tick nest!
How to remove ticks on dogs
Be careful and cautious when removing a tick. Grasp it with tweezers firmly at the head, or as close to the dog’s skin as possible, and slowly pull straight back. Never twist, press, burn, or apply irritating substances like kerosene to an attached tick because doing so can cause the parasite to expel the contents of its digestive tract, creating an unwanted hypodermic effect.
Disinfecting the area
Keep in mind that any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit an infection to your dog or even you. Treat the area with three-percent hydrogen peroxide, the common disinfectant. It is recommended for tick bites because the oxygen it contains destroys the Lyme disease bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide can be liberally poured over bites on light-haired dogs (keep away from eyes and apply directly to skin!), but because it is bleach, this method is not recommended for black or dark-haired dogs. Using an eyedropper to apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the bite helps prevent unwanted bleaching.
Natural Tick Repellents
1. Try Cedar Oil Spray
Cedar oil is a non-toxic, natural tick and insect repellent. It can be sprayed directly on clothing and skin. It is safe for use on humans and pets. Not only does cedar oil repel ticks and other irritating insects, but it kills them. Cedar oil spray can be purchased online and at most pet stores and big-box retailers.
2. Homemade Tick and Insect Repellent
Try this simple recipe. Just mix and apply to exposed skin before heading outdoors:
9 drops citronella essential oil
6 drops Tea Tree essential oil
6 drops Peppermint essential oils
1 tablespoon almond oil or jojoba oil
3. Neem Oil
Need oil is used as a natural remedy to repel and remove ticks. To use, add several drops to the palm of your hand and rub on exposed skin. It can also be diluted and mixed with almond or other light carrier oil. When diluted, it’s safe for dogs. To remove a tick, apply a drop or two of neem oil directly on the tick and it will extract itself quickly.
4. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is known as an effective tick repellent and killer. Just combine 4 ounces of purified or distilled water to a small spray bottle along with 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Shake before using and spray on skin, pant cuffs, and shoes. Safe for use on dogs (eucalyptus oil must be diluted with the water before application on dogs).
5. Essential Oils
If you are an essential oil enthusiast, then congratulations – you have already found an effective dog tick repellent! Certain smells, such as lemongrass, lavender, eucalyptus, cedarwood, geranium, and peppermint, act as strong deterrents to any ticks. Consequently, essential oil usage (singular or in blends) on the feet or under the belly will decrease the chances of any dog tick bites. However, it is essential that you pick the least chemically processed essential oils from ethical, sustainable sources.
6. Baltic Amber Collar
One of the easiest though unhealthiest approaches to dog ticks pertains to chemical flea/tick collars. Unfortunately, the chemicals contained in the collars can cause numerous medical issues to your puppy, from skin irritation and digestive disorders to life-threatening conditions. Furthermore, fleas and ticks primarily target different body parts, such as the dog’s feet or the belly, not the neck area. Therefore, the flea/tick collar’s benefits clearly do not outweigh the disadvantages.
Instead of endangering your puppy’s health, you can choose a non-chemical alternative in the shape of a Baltic Amber collar! Baltic Amber collars create static energy that repels ticks from your dog’s fur by employing a material commonly associated with canine teething. However, unlike its chemical-ridden opponent, Baltic Amber collars cause no side effects to dogs or humans, making them a safe, natural, and desirable alternative.
We all know that garlic has excellent health benefits, and now we can add one more to the list. Regular consumption of garlic reduces the risk of tick bites. The garlic causes the body to excrete a scent that ticks hate. The medicinal properties of garlic only last a few minutes once cut so p[repare garlic right before feeding to get the most out of it.
8. Regular Dog Tick Checks
Notwithstanding multiple measures, the most effective tick prevention method pertains to regular checks. Since dog tick bites can occur at any moment, as a dog parent, we advise you to create and consistently follow a regular check calendar. During each check, try to look for ticks and other parasites by checking your dog’s paws, fur, and tail.
Instituting body checks starting as a puppy will help your dog adjust to being regularly checked, causing them to be less reluctant everytime you need to do it. Ensure that you perform such a check after each trip to the woods to prevent potential ticks from feeding off your dog. Always remember that tick bites are hard to detect, which is why any potential symptoms of parasite infestation will occur long after the tick abandons the host. For that reason, immediate checks after forest visits increase the chances of discovering potential ticks in time to prevent bites.
If you see a tick crawling on your clothing, or if you have ventured into a known tick-infested area, you should do the following:
- Grab the lint roller (take it with you on outings!). A sticky tape lint roller is excellent for picking ticks of any size off your skin and clothing. Carry one with you and brush it over your skin and clothes (and pet’s fur) periodically.
- Toss your clothing into a hot dryer for 10 to 15 minutes to kill any lurking ticks.
- Do a full-body check on yourself, family members, and pets. Brush your hair and jump in the shower. Rinse pets using the outdoor hose before heading inside.
With our simple DIY prevention tips, your puppy will keep ticks and other parasites away and enjoy nature with all its wonders! No process is more important than full body tick checks every time you are done outside. To be sure, make sure you test 2x/year at your vet office for tick borne illnesses . The 4DX Snap Test should be done yearly -use the C6 Test follow up only if positive.
The 4Dx snap test in the veterinary world is a blood test that is run in the hospital and provides results in 8 minutes. The test is a screening process for six vector-borne diseases. The test checks your dog for Heartworm, Lyme, Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewingii, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma platys.
Note: I do the 4DX Snap test every 6 months because I do not use chemical aids in heartworm prevention. Because of this I want to be sure that I know those results more frequently. If you receive a positive tick result then further testing like C6 (Lyme quant level) or CBC. Do you have more questions surrounding dog tick removal and prevention? Feel free to contact us or check out our blog!