Thanks to writer Jane Meggitt for her good information on protecting pets from ticks and including diatomaceous earth!
In Portland, Oregon, last week, a beloved collie was slated for euthanasia because of paralysis. He was actually in the veterinary room being prepared for that final injection when an intern spotted something behind his ear. It was a tick, and the vet knew, in rare instances, the neurotoxins from a tick bite can cause paralysis. Ollie, the collie, was treated and is now back home with his owners.
Ollie’s close call is just one example of the threat tick bites pose to pets and people. Although paralysis is uncommon, that’s not the case with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Rather than use powerful, potentially toxic chemicals to keep ticks off your pets, consider natural ways that take a bit more effort but won’t harm you or your animal.
Ticks are three-season pests
Spring and summer’s warm weather means tick season, but so does autumn. Actually, that’s prime tick season. Ticks survive until the initial killing frost, but many don’t succumb. During winter, ticks will look for meals on days when the temperature rises above freezing. If you live in a warm climate, you’ll deal with them all year long. That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant against the tick scourge.
Tick-proof your yard
Do your best to make your yard or the area where your dog goes outside a tick-free zone. This means keeping the lawn trimmed and getting rid of brush or wood piles that hide squirrels and other small rodents — these are the creatures that help circulate tick larvae and nymphs. Order nematodes — beneficial, miniscule worms — and place them in your soil. These worms consume tick larvae. Construct barriers made of gravel or wood chips between your lawn and wooded areas. Ticks avoid these demarcations and stay in the vegetation.
When taking your dog for a walk or going on a hike, stay in the middle of trails and avoid the vegetation at the edges. Don’t let your dog off-lead where he can run through brush. Ticks live on grasses and similar plants, attaching themselves to passers-by. Conduct a thorough tick check after every outing — on both Fido and yourself.
Soap that puppy
Bathe your dog regularly with an organic shampoo containing tea tree or peppermint oil, and rinse off the suds with a solution consisting of equal parts water and apple cider vinegar. Regular brushing and bathing gives you the opportunity to give your dog a head-to-toe tick and flea check.
Diatomaceous earth, or DE, is the skeletal remains of microscopic unicellular plants called diatoms. DE is lethal to ticks, fleas and many other insects, but is pet friendly. Once an insect comes into contact with DE, it latches on, sucks the moisture out of their bodies and kills them. Sprinkle DE lightly on your pet’s body and on his sleeping areas. If you discover a tick infestation in your home, vacuum thoroughly and then dust carpet with DE. Wait three days and vacuum again. This picks up dead ticks and their eggs. Help deter ticks from entering your dwelling by placing DE around your home’s foundation. Repeat after rainstorms.
Again, conduct a thorough tick check every time your dog comes back into the house from the outdoors. Search all the canine nooks and crannies, such as behind the ears, between the toes and in his “armpits.” If you find a tick on your pet, it’s crucial to remove it correctly. You’ll need:
- isopropyl alcohol
- small jar or similar container with lid
- cotton balls