Summertime and the living is…downright buggy. We’re playing outdoors, taking hikes and just generally being outside more frequently which increases our chance of a tick encounter. Blech! I HATE those nasty things. Here’s some info I recently found in Dogs Naturally Magazine that might keep your fur-iend just a wag safer.
According to experts, ticks…those creepy crawly bugs that transmit diseases, are expected to be particularly bad this year and may be expanding their range to epidemic numbers in some areas. The good news is (if you can consider anything associated with ticks as being ‘good’), most tick-borne diseases aren’t usually transmitted immediately so if they are removed within 36 hours, changes are good your pet is not likely to be infected. Whew!
Ticks in Dogs
[All images shown here are courtesy of Dogs Naturally Magazine]
Finally, American canine hepatozoonosis (ACH) (Hepatozoon canis, Hepatozoon americanum) is an emerging but rare disease but one worth mentioning since it isn’t transmitted by a bite but by ingesting when the dog removes ticks off his own body, or if he eats prey that had ticks. Highly debilitating, it’s particularly essential to remove these ticks before your pup does. This one is found in the south central and southeastern US.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) provides interactive maps for the US and Canada on their website (Note: CAPC’s sponsors are big Pharma/chemical companies that provide tick products and therefore have a vested interest in promoting convenience with an added dose of old-fashioned fear).
Removing ticks is the name of the game here, especially if you aren’t a big Pharma/chemical company fan. But there are do’s and don’ts associated with tick removal of which you should be aware.
Time is of the essence. Removing ticks quickly is in your best interest. If you’ve been hiking in tall grasses or walking in the woods, check your pet over as soon as you can. If your pup is chewing on a spot, pay special attention. It’s a clue there may be something or someone there. Check all over. While ticks favor ears, toes, joints, they are dastardly buggers and will attach to tails or nether regions, given half the opportunity. Long-haired or double coated dogs can be gone over with a low-heat setting on a hair-dryer to make viewing easier.
Using tweezers close to the skin, pull up gently. Clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Dispose of the offender in alcohol or flush it down the toilet. Or you can use a one of these nifty tick removal tools.
Buh, bye…rotten bug.
I’ve never seen one of these before but naturally YouTube has a brilliant video on how to use. They sure would have come in handy during the camping days of my youth. ‘Roughing it’ now requires at least a motel. No more sleeping on the ground in a tent for this sports-fan. No siree.
Now properly equipped in your tick-removal of Do’s, you should know there are plenty of Don’ts that you should likewise be aware of, though I confess, I’ve broken some of these rules over the years out of ignorance. Don’t remove ticks with your fingers so as to avoid contamination from pathogens. Remember, above all, these are disease spreading insects. Don’t use vaseline or other substances in an effort to suffocate it. Don’t squish a tick-it can increase the risk of infection for you or your pup. Don’t burn the tick with a hot match and don’t dispose of it in a trash can. These are crawling little bastards and they’ll seek sanctuary until the next
sucker host comes along.
The best way to avoid ticks is keeping them off your dog. Sure you can go the chemical route, but you can also try some natural solutions (easier said than done when you live in a heavily wooded area with heavy humidity and up to your eyeballs in them).
Effective dietary preventives can be useful. Garlic (I know, some of you are freaking out now, but it appears 1/3 tsp of fresh garlic per 10 lbs. of weight is safe). Check with your vet to be sure it’s appropriate for your pup. Apple cider vinegar added to food or water bowl makes blood less tasty to ticks and fleas. One half teaspoon per 25 lbs. of weight should work nicely.
Herbal flea and tick powders are excellent options (for homemade recipe see here). You can add a couple drops of rose geranium essential oil to 2 TBS of almond oil and spray directly on a collar, bandana or the neck. While I’m not familiar with this one, Palo Santo essential oil added to your favorite lavender shampoo makes a good tick shampoo (see this link for info). A citrus repellant in a spray bottle misted on your pet (avoiding eyes and nose) is also effective. Ticks are not fans of peppermint essential oil either. Food grade diatomaceous earth powder (DE) can be lightly sprinkled on your pet but may be drying to his skin and of course, again avoid eyes, nose and mouth. DE can be sprinkled around the garden and contains good minerals that don’t hurt plants or earthworms. Nematodes feed on tick larvae so if you live in a wooded area, this is a solution for your yard.
Now after all that nasty boogie man stuff about ticks and all the problems they can cause, you also have some natural solutions for staying safe. Remember avoidance is the best treatment but in the summertime that’s not always possible. Have fun, enjoy the outdoors and eliminate the bastards.
Do you have trouble with ticks? How do you deal with them?
Live, love, bark! ❤︎