How Ticks Affect Your Pet
If you are an active dog owner with canine explorers like mine, you probably can’t wait for hiking season! A good resource for dog-friendly hikes is the website www.hikewithyourdog.com.
While Mama, Papa & Baby Bear might still be sleeping, the wild packs of pesky parasites, including ticks and mosquitoes, are probably already active. When we enter their space, they get a little ticked off – and hungry. To help mitigate this threat, I’ve packed this article with useful information on repelling these pests, making for safer and happier trails.
Who doesn’t have the right to get ticked off at them? These pesky little blood suckers can transmit diseases like Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, to both humans and pets after a bite. Tick-borne diseases are hard to diagnose, and their symptoms can mimic other ailments. They often go unrecognized and untreated without a trip to the doctor or veterinarian. Even then, the test results might not show positive for weeks. In dogs, the symptoms may not show up for 7-21 days, or even months after infection, and vary from mild to severe. In severe cases of Lyme disease for example, kidney failure may occur. While the highest incidence of infectious disease and the ticks transmitting them are found in America’s Northeastern and Midwestern states and the Pacific Northwest, don’t be fooled: no American region is without them, and they can occur all year.
Another pesky bloodsucker is the mosquito. Not only are these insects annoying and give us an itchy welt from their bite, they can also give us dangerous viruses like West Nile, encephalitis, Zika, Chikungunya, dengue and malaria. Also, mosquitoes carry and transmit heartworms, and possibly other pathogens. Some individuals experience allergic reactions to mosquito bites, with severe itching and swelling. Mosquitoes are found everywhere; no region is free of them.
Let’s get armed and dangerous, and fight the bite before it happens. I want to share with you some natural preventive measures and resources for responsible, natural pet care in addition to the preventives you may normally use.
- A good healthy diet. It has been said that insects and parasites prey on the weak, so keep yourself and your dogs strong and healthy by feeding good, nourishing food.
- Regular grooming. As Dr. Pitcairn says, “Cleanliness is next to Healthfulness”. Try shampooing with a few drops of pure, essential oils of pennyroyal, eucalyptus, lavender or clove oil added to a natural shampoo. Give your dog a quick check-up after outdoor exposure by using your fingers to brush their hair against the grain, looking for the hitchhikers before they attach themselves. Never remove a tick with bare hands, as you might be exposed to the diseases they can carry. See instructions for tick removal at www.dogsandticks.com.
- Essential Oils. Try applying natural essential oil repellants before venturing out into tick country.
- Reading List. For valuable information on deterring pesky insects, I suggest reading “The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.”
After much trial and error, the formulas below are the ones I most desired for the pets in my life. They have been developed after considerable experimentation and usage under the guidance of my holistic vet and adaptations from “The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care” (revised Addition) CJ Puotinen (p.171-172). I highly suggest this book. It was part of my curriculum in Natural Pet Care and helped my dogs and fosters thrive. I suggest you study as much natural pet care and the use of essential oil therapy you have time for. Please note that many oils can be toxic and or unacceptable to your pets, especially pregnant animals.
Tick / Insect Repellant Spray
- 25 drops of palmarosa oil (rose geranium)
- 4 drops citronella oil
- 4 drops rosemary or thyme oil
- 4 drops clove oil (try Thieves® Essential Oil by Young Living™)
- 1 tbsp. Black Walnut Hull tincture (alcohol base) can be found at your local co-op
In a small, glass spray bottle mix together all ingredients plus 1 cup water and ½ cup aloe vera gel. Shake well before use. Avoid eyes and snout always. Lightly spritz along the back and stomach, rear end and collar area. Apply a little to your hands and rub on ear tips. Don’t forget to spray yourself as well.
WARNING: I understand and have knowledge myself: Palmarosa may temporarily interfere with a dog’s retrieval scent! This happened with my beloved black lab, Blue, and a few foster dogs.
My favorite Flea and Insect Collar Oil (for fabric collars)
10 drops each:
- Cedar oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Citronella oil
- Clove oil
- Lavender oil
- Palmarosa oil
- Thyme oil
In a very small glass container, mix oils with 2 tbsp. Grapeseed, almond or vegetable oil. Drop about 8 to 10 drops of oil along the collar. Place collar in a plastic bag and let rest overnight. The next day it’s ready to use. Re-apply oil as needed, usually every week in the summer.
STORAGE: I keep these collars stored in an airtight container through flea and tick season. This way the oils last longer.