The Do’s & Don’t of Ticks

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.

Geographic Areas

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). 

Tick Removal

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.

Here’s one of the little bastards right there. Get it!!

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! ❤︎

73 thoughts on “The Do’s & Don’t of Ticks

  1. Jan K

    We hate chemicals almost as much as we hate ticks! All natural solutions are the way we go. You actually shared a couple here (ACV for one) that I haven’t heard of, so thanks for that!
    We are guilty of picking them off with our fingers. Sometimes it just can’t be avoided…Luke will not let us near him with implements of any sort, and we even have to be sneaky when using our fingers. I am always sure to wash my hands though.
    While we’re hoping our bird additions will reduce the population around the house, we still like to walk in the woods, so we always have to be diligent!

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  2. LP

    Our Mama always chose natural remedies and never had a problem with ticks or fleas in past years. However, since Wilhelmina has joined the family, things are different! Wilhelmina loves to explore deep in the forest where other dogs we have had in the past always stayed on the path with the humans, she also loves to play with every and all dogs she encounters whereas other dogs we have had in the past, were more selective.We had fleas last summer for the first time ever and it wasn’t fun!! So this year we have the dogs on flea and tick preventive pills.It’s not our Mama’s first choice but with six animals, it’s the best choice for everyone concerned!

    the critters in the cottage xo

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  3. somethingwagging

    Because we travel and can’t keep up with the threat levels changing throughout the year, we’ve opted for the nasty chemical route. My sympathies are to go natural. But with Honey, we are constantly balancing what is the greater threat.

    And right now, ticks are a greater threat to her than the flea and tick medicine we give her. When we were living in one place, we went natural and had no problems.

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  4. Clowie

    Ticks are horrible! When we lived in the mountains in Spain, there were loads of them. We found that brushing my legs as soon as we got back from a walk caught most of them before they could latch on. I guess it helps that my legs are quite long! They checked the rest of me thoroughly most days.

    There are a lot less ticks in England but we live where there are lots of sheep, so we still have to watch out for ticks.

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  5. FiveSibesMom

    I have such tick phobia, this year even worse. New York is a high-risk area…where we live is not as high risk as some areas, but I’m still crazed about these little nasties. With Huskies, it’s not an easy thing to check for ticks either, with all their fur and double coat. Like searching for a needle in a haystack! I use a topical for them, even so, two of them have tested in the past for erhlichiosis and anaplasmosis. Ugh. Hate these creatures. I’m Pinning and sharing this very important information.

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    1. Tails Around the Ranch Post author

      Thank you for your comment. Since we’re in the city it’s not likely to encounter ticks unless we go for a hike up in the mountains. Still any time a more natural remedy is out there, I have to share it. I know what you mean about thick coats. A hairdryer on low setting can help move hair out of the way to see better. Good luck keeping those buggers at bay. And thanks for swinging by the Ranch. We 💖 visitors.

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  6. tippysmom2

    I give Tippy the Brevecto pill. We live in a heavily wooded area and it has kept them off of her pretty good. I have only found one on her, that I recall, and it was already dead. They give me the heebie geebies. We did have a doctor, not a vet, to tell us that the best way to remove a tick if they are attached is to flip them over on their back and pull parallel to the skin (using tweezers, preferably). I can attest that this works great and they never have any skin come with it or leave their head in the skin. Why? Because the part that they “bite” with is curved. When you flip them over, it straightens out and it’s like pulling a needle out instead of a fish hook.

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    1. Tails Around the Ranch Post author

      That little tool seemed to work a bit more easy than tweezer removal. Luckily we’re in the city but it’s always good to be armed for those times when you go hiking. Lyme disease is no laughing matter for us or our fur-babies.

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      1. tippysmom2

        I know. The diseases we can get from ticks really is scary. I recall there is a new one now, but I don’t recall what it is. I just know that it is transmitted more quickly than the others. So, I now check myself about every 15 minutes if I am out walking in the weeds.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Tails Around the Ranch Post author

        Have not heard about a quickly transmitted disease yet. But not surprising since those kinds of things keep evolving into worse versions. People think I’m nuts for wearing long pants on a hot day on a mountain hike but the last thing I want to deal with are ticks! 🙂

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  7. pibblelife

    Wow, this is a very informative and useful post! We have been fortunate enough to not have any encounters with ticks (so far) though my humom thought I had one on my face but turns out it was just a skin tag! BOL! She even got Wilhelmina’s humom all worried! I like the apple cider vinegar suggestion, we are going to try that!

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  8. Murphy & Stanley

    When we went to Indiana last year Stanley had a TERRIBLE tick problem. He got 7 of them!!! Dad got one and I, Murphy, got one as well. Anyway, we used the method we saw on Facebook where you take a Q-tip and circle around the tick causing it to back out. We can report that it worked every time!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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  9. Patrick Dykie

    Thank you for an informative post. I was just at the vet this morning with my dog, Chase. He hasn’t been feeling well, and has joint pain. The vet is thinking it may be Lyme disease. I live in Pennsylvania, which is tick country.

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  10. Cupcake

    Mom has a raging case of the heebie-jeebies after reading this. We were surprised to see apple cider vinegar there as a Do. Isn’t vinegar bad for doggies?

    Love and licks,
    Cupcake

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    1. Tails Around the Ranch Post author

      Diluted in a water bowl, the use of vinegar should not be an issue. Because some pets have a skin sensitivity if applied directly to their skin as an antiseptic, it is impawtant to check to make sure no irritation results. But it is quite effective as a topical on pets without sensitivity

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  11. lapaylor

    cole got a wood tick bite, and rocky mountain spotted fever despite being on frontline. The vet said RMSF transmits on bite immed. Drew got a tick bite this year that still hasn’t healed (he’s been to the dr twice and they only gave him two days of antibiotics) He pulled it off within the hour. Milo had two ticks from the breeder. We live in fear of ticks around Maryland. (aka the swamp) (we’re too close to DC where you find a lot of dangerous blood suckers)

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  12. frenchgardenhouse

    Thank you for this wealth of information. So far our Bentley hasn’t had a tick, but if he ever does, this is a great post about what to do.

    Liked by 1 person

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  13. My Golden Life

    I hate the chemicals, BUT the natural route wasn’t enough – especially with Ducky at daycare twice a week – so I switched to Bravecto. That was two years ago and so far, no fleas or ticks on either of my girls.

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      1. My Golden Life

        Oh, I know that. We had to be really careful with Callie when she was getting chemo for her lymphoma. I don’t even remember any more if we were doing anything with her or not, as far as fleas and ticks go.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Kate Crimmins

    When Jake my indoor-outdoor cat was alive, he was a tick magnet, even with the anti-tick drops. Those drops still allow ticks to ride in on an animal and wander around the house looking for a good meal. Now all our cats are indoor only and we only get ticks on us (people) when we do yard work in the shrubs and groundcover. Even without Jake we’ve had a few get inside this year and it’s a bad year for ticks locally. Vigilance is the best.

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      1. Kate Crimmins

        Yes they do. Jake had to be checked at least twice a day during the worst part of the summer and every time he came in. Still we would see them walking across the floor looking for something to eat.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. leaspurpose

    Thank you for sharing this VERY important reminder! I never had a tick problem with any of the dogs here until recently.

    My Pitty Bailey is a tick magnet 😜 . She has sensitive skin and has had reactions to topical flea and tick treatments in the past. I use a mixture of essential oils on all the dogs and it is amazing! I don’t like using any chemicals on my babies. I even shared the information in one of my own posts.

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    1. Tails Around the Ranch Post author

      This is supposed to be a pretty bad year for ticks. I’m with you and don’t want to use chemicals on my fur kids. I’ve seen dogs who suffered burns from various brands. Um, no. thank you. I read your post recently and while I try to highlight tick and fleas remedies every year, it was a good reminder.

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  16. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy

    We have LOTS of ticks – they are bad enough this year that I broke down and got Choppy tick medicine, which I’ve never done before. Before she had it, I felt like I was pulling ticks off of her everyday (we had enough that I broke down and got one of those “get the ticks off of the dog” tools, which works great). Since I got it, she’s tick-free. Hopefully they’ll be better next year and we won’t have to have her on medication.

    Also, remember to check yourself! I’ve pulled probably 10+ ticks off of myself this year.

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