Ticks, Home Remedies, and Pharmaceutical Options
Fall is approaching fast and before we know it, winter’s here! Pest season is over, no more flies, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks! Many of us believe that pest season ends when cold starts to creep in, however you and your canine friend might not be safe from ticks yet! In fact, these little bloodsuckers, are pests that like to seek refuge in your home during the winter because they need heat and shelter to survive. Ticks can be active almost year around as long as they are in the right environment, comfortable temperatures and a nice host (your dog)! Most people notice problems with these little creatures in the spring and summer, this tends to be because we and our dogs spend more time outside.
What are these little bloodsucking creatures?
Ticks are a common species of an Ectoparasite that feeds on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Animals and human beings can easily pick up ticks outdoors. Both dogs and cats are common carriers of ticks. These little pests can negatively affect your dog’s health by inserting their mouth-parts into your dog’s skin. They produce a glue-like substance that helps them remain attached to the skin, this allows them to feed on your dog’s blood. Note that some tick bites can cause serious illnesses such as Anemia, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Environments where Ticks are found
Ticks thrive in wood areas, shrubs, tall grasses, weeds, and leaf litters and will attach themselves to your pet or yourself. Ticks are attracted to the warmth radiating from your body. And latch on to the host to feed and engorge themselves on blood. Once they fall off inside your house, ticks like to stay in warmer humid areas such as carpets, beds, curtains, and other furniture. Tick infestations can be very time consuming to get rid off. Ticks can be found world wide. There are close to 900 different species worldwide. The United States houses about 90 different species, and about 23 different species can be found across Europe. Tick seasons make the news frequently as there has been an increase in animals and humans contracting the diseases they carry after bites.
The most common Ticks in the US are:
The most common tick species in Europe are:
- Castor bean tick (Ixodes Ricinus), also known as the Sheep tick or Deer tick. This species is responsible for the transmission of a large variety of tick-borne diseases. Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, Anaplasmosis, Tularaemia, Rickettsia hevetica, Rickettsia Monacensis, Babesiosis, Louping Ill virus and Tribec virus.
- Taiga tick (Ixodes Persulcatus), known to transmit Lyme disease, babesiosis, and Siberian (TBEV-Sib) and Far Eastern (TBEV-FE) tick-borne encephalitis and also suspected to transmit Anaplasmosis)
- Hedgehog tick (Ixodes hexagonus), transmits Borrelia, Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Boutonneuse fever.
- Dog tick (Ixodes canisuga), large infestation may cause Dermatitis Pruritus, Alopecia and Anemia, Pasteurella Pestis.
Most common areas on your dogs body to see ticks
Some of the most common areas where they attach themselves are:
- Paws (spaces between toes)
Note: remove ticks using tweezers or a tick removal tool, pull and Do not twist, wiggle or crush the tick, as exposure to its blood may allow it to transmit diseases. Dispose of the tick by killing it in alcohol or by flushing it down the toilet.
Some of the most common symptoms of tick bites are:
- Your dog might show excessive licking or scratching
- Scabs or hot spots on the skin might develop around the bite area
- Hair loss (especially in front the base of your dog’s tail)
- Rash near the bite mark or circular pattern of redness
Pharmaceutical Options for Treatment and Prevention
- Spot-on Skin Treatments: Over the counter spot-on medication. Applied directly on skin (dog’s back). Effective method of keeping parasites at bay for up to a month.
- Oral Treatments: Nexgard, Bravecto and Simparica are the most common oral tick preventives on the market, however they are prescription only and you will need to consult your vet.
- Shampoos: Medicated shampoos that kill ticks upon contact. The shampoos contain ingredients that effectively and immediately rid your dog of ticks. Effects don’t last long.
- Powders: Should be used with care, can cause irritation to mouth and lungs if inhaled. Make sure powder label suitable for pet type (cats/dogs) and pet age.
- Tick Collars: Repels ticks. Tend to only protect the neck and head and chest area. Collars need to make contact with the skin in order to transfer protective chemicals to your pet.
Home Remedies for Treatment and Prevention
Certain oils can make a great tick (and flea) repellent for your dog, as a bonus make your pooch smell great!
Please use our base recipe below when using an Essential Oil
- Cedar Oil Spray: Non-toxic. Safe for humans and pets.
- Citrus Oil: Not suggested if you have cats in the same household.
- Geranium Oil: Not suggested if you have cats in the same household.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Dilute 1:1 with water (1 cup of water and one 1 cup of vinegar) and spray on your pet.
- Neem Oil: Dilution of 1:10 with another oil, like olive or almond oil. (1oz. of Neem oil and 10oz. of your other choice of oil) (Does not work for adult ticks and doesn’t seem effective against the Brown Dog Tick).
- Lavender Oil A great tick repellent that smells good and has a calming effect!
- Diatomaceous Earth: Use a food grade product, and dust it on your dogs coat. Also very effective against fleas and internal parasites.
Please note that using essential oils directly on your pet’s skin can be harmful for their health. Always read the label and make sure you dilute the essential oils for use in sprays. For our cat owners, please use caution as certain oils like geranium, citrus and eucalyptus oils as they can be dangerous to your cat.
Base Recipe to make your own cheap Tick repellent for your pup
A simple recipe to make your own Tick repellent, with items you probably have sitting in the pantry. This recipe leaves your dogs coat nice and soft as well!
- Add 1 cup of water to a spray bottle
- Proceed to add 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. Ticks hate the smell and taste of vinegar, and Vinegar by alone will work as a repellent . Also great against pesky mosquitos!
- 2 Tbsp of glycerin or almond oil, oils contain sulfur which is a natural tick repellent, regular vegetable oil can be used as well.
- Add 30 drops of your favorite tick repellent essential oil.
Spray the tick repellent on your pet’s dry coat, be careful not to get it in their eyes (or other sensitive areas). If your dog only goes outside for a morning/afternoon walk, spray your dog prior to going out. If your dog spends their entire day outside in a tick and flea “friendly” environment, make sure you spray them 2 to 3 times a day.