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Over the past few years the prevalence of ticks and tick borne diseases is continuing to increase. Learn how to use natural tick repellents to protect your dog from tick bites. Since the tell tail signs of a tick bite such as a rash or even the actual tick, are near impossible to see on dogs preventive measure are vital to reduce the chances of your dog falling victim to a tick bite.
In addition to the tick borne diseases that can affect your dog its also possible for ticks to hitch a ride on your furry friend right into the living room and threaten the entire family. To help keep your dog free from ticks we’ll look at three tick management strategies.
When deciding how to naturally repel ticks there are numerous products to choose from. Many sites recommend almost every type of essential oil, garlic, vinegar and pretty much anything else with a powerful odor. Since we need to filter the list for products that are scientifically proven, natural, and safe for dogs the list becomes substantially shorter. This brings us to Cedar Oil. Many essential oils are known to be dangerous to pets (more on that in a bit) however Cedar Oil when used correctly on dogs is typically safe.
One of my favorite natural tick repellents is Wondercide Flea and Tick Repellent. The primary active ingredient is Cedar Oil which is proven to be an excellent natural tick repellent. Using a topical treatment such as this rather then pills keeps harmful chemicals out of your pets blood stream.
The core principle of tickscaping is to create an environment inhospitable to ticks. This boils down to creating and maintaining a clean and tidy environment. Ticks thrive in wooded, shady, and humid areas. Keeping them away from your dog means creating a clear separation between your dogs yard and wild areas. In addition keep your dogs play area clear of debris that ticks and other pests can hide in. For a full review of of how to tickscape your yard check out our article on tickscaping.
One of the most common requests is what can be applied to the lawn to repel ticks. Thankfully there is a scientifically provedn to repel and even kill ticks. Cedarwood oil is a natural tick repellent with ample research backing up its effectiveness. Cedarwood oil is taken from various types of cedar trees.
An article in Environmental Entomology discussed how researchers discovered cedarwood can get rid of ticks. In addition it was found to kill Black-legged tick nymphs. The best way to apply cedarwood oil to your yard is to purchase a premixed kit. There are several premixed Cedar Oil lawn applications available online. One of the more popular brands is YardSafe Cedarcide. Simply attach your garden hose and spray down the areas where you want to repel ticks. Its simple, easy and effective.
Tickscaping can also apply to your dogs indoor environment. Just as keeping your yard clean and clear will reduce ticks out doors so will frequent cleaning indoors reduce the chances of ticks living in your house. This in especially important for your dogs bedding.
Researchers from the Ohio State University determined that vacuuming is able to kill 96% of adult fleas and 100% of young fleas. The lead researcher noted the combination of vacuum brushes, fans, and internal air currents combine to kill the fleas. He theorized the vacuuming process wore away the fleas waxy outer layer that keeps them hydrated. The advice on flea and tick control through vacuuming was also endorsed by researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. They determined the vacuum is your best friend for controlling the brown dog tick.
In addition to vacuuming the bedding its a good idea to frequently wash your pets bedding at least once per week. if you’re not able to machine wash the bedding then look into steam cleaning it. Hot steam is great for killing unwanted pests. Due to confined indoor space and the time dogs spend on their bedding simple vacuuming and washing could be a better alternative then natural or synthetic pesticides.
Referring back to our original criteria, tickscaping your dogs environment is natural, scientifically proven, and safe for your dogs. Lets now consider the third step, preventing and detecting ticks.
The third step in Tick Management is detecting and preventing ticks on your dog. Utilizing the natural tick repellents for dogs discussed earlier will help prevent tick bites once ticks crawl on to your dog. However its even better to get rid of ticks before they have a chance to crawl on your dog. One of the best ways to do this is with diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is an amazing all around bug deterrent. Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of single celled organisms. When ground up it becomes a fine abrasive powder that is excellent for killing fleas and ticks and any other insect that comes in contact with it. The abrasive nature of diatomaceous earth creates small cuts in the creatures exoskeleton, dehydrating it and eventually killing it. While diatomaceous earth is generally considered safe for humans and most animals there are some precautions that should be taken.
When using diatomaceous earth for pest control its important to purchase a product labeled for pest control or use food grade diatomaceous earth. There is also industrial and pool grade diatomaceous earth that should be avoided. Since diatomaceous earth is administered as a powder be careful not to breath in the dust, as its know to be a lung irritant when inhaled. This means that you should use diatomaceous earth in an area not frequented by your dog, or work the diatomaceous earth into the grass so its not easily disturbed and breathed in. Similar to cedarwood oil you should administer diatomaceous earth when its dry so its not washed away.
If you decide to use diatomaceous earth its best to use whats called a "duster". Dusters have long narrow tubes that allow you to apply diatomaceous earth in tight spots and get it exactly where its needed. Checkout our article on how to apply diatomaceous earth for more information. Using a duster will also help conserve your diatomaceous earth as only a small amount comes out with each puff. Since only a small amount is needed to kill ticks a duster is a must have tool in your tick fighting tool bag.
Another fact to remember about diatomaceous earth is that it kills most insects with an exoskeleton. So please be careful and avoid excessive use of diatomaceous earth in areas frequented by honey bees or other beneficial insects and critters that you don’t want to kill.
Keeping your dog in a clean well manicured portion of the yard will reduce the changes of exposure to ticks. However since even the most well behaved dogs will occasionally take a run in the woods its also important to have a tick detection strategy and process before going back indoors.
The first step is checking ticks favorite spots to hide on your dog. Ticks like warm hidden places where they feel safe and can go unnoticed. Pay particular to the following areas:
After checking the tick hot spots (head, belly, feet) do a through brushing from head to tail. While brushing watch for black spots and use your fingers to feel for bumps. A through-row brushing will also help you identify fleas and keep your dog clean which is a core principle of tick management.
Wow that’s a lot of information to digest! Lets might be easier by breaking it into three simple parts:
If you stuck with us this far you certinly know that protecting your dog from ticks is important. However its also good to ahve a few facts and figures to convince friends and family. According to the Canine Health Foundation there are several dangerous disease dogs can contract from ticks, such as:
To reduce your dogs exposure to the above diseases its necessary to tackle ticks strategically and systematically. This can be accomplished using the strategies we discussed in the preceeding paragraphs. A comprehensive tick management approach will address each of these areas.
When considering a natural tick repellent for your dog always ask the following three questions:
For many people essential oils are the go to natural tick repellent. In fact we have written several articles about on the benefits of essential oils especially as a natural pest repellent. However before using essential oils on your dog there are a few things to remember.
An excellent source of information for dog friendly products is the ASPCA. Their site contains several articles on effects of essential oils on pets. Due to the different physiological makeup of dogs as compared to humans along with varying types of oils the ASPCA advises caution when using essential oils around dogs. Diluted sprays may not be harmful to dogs but its strongly suggested to NOT apply pure essential oil of any type directly on a pet.
Two of the most popular and proven oils for repelling ticks on humans , Eucalyptus and Geranium oil, are listed by the ASPCA as toxic to dogs. While there is a difference between a dog eating the plant and diffusing an oily mist on their fur the chemical makeup of the original plant is still present in the essential oil spray. Many people feel that using a solution with only a small percent eucalyptus or geranium oil is acceptable on healthy dogs. Fortunately another recommended oil, Cedarwood oil, when applied appropriately does not appear to be toxic to dogs.
The research on the ability of cedarwood oil to repel fleas and ticks is well established. Studies by United States Department of Agriculture determined “Black-legged tick nymphs exhibited dosage-dependent mortality when exposed to cedrol and at the highest dosage (i.e., 6.3 mg/ml) tested, the cedrol killed 100% of the ticks”. In addition to the USDA the Journal of Medical Entomology stated that Alaskan Yellow Cedar is effective at killing ticks.
However this doesn’t mean you should coat your dog in cedarwood oil. As previously stated dogs are more sensitive to chemicals (although natural essential oils are chemicals) then humans. The direct application of cedarwood oil has been proven to cause skin and kidney issues rats and mice. To avoid health issues and still realize the flea and tick repellent properties of cedarwood oil balance is needed. Rather then directly applying the oil at full strength to your dogs skin use a diluted mix and apply to their fur in an area they can not lick. Due to your dogs amazing sense of smell its also good to do this application when they will be spending time out doors so they are not overwhelmed by the smell. In addition to using cedar wood oil outdoors it may be good to start with a very small amount to ensure your dog in not allergic or unusually sensitive.
Since cedarwood oil is a candidate for repelling and controlling ticks when properly applied to dogs fur its only logical that it works as a natural tick repellent for dogs when applied to the yard. However the mixture and application will need to be adjusted. Rather then applying a few drops you need to spray large areas. The most effective way to accomplish this is with premixed solutions of cedarwood oil. One of my favorites is Cedarcide oil available from Amazon. This product easily attaches to your hose to spray all out door areas where you need flea and tick repellent.
Remember that some of the most widly used tick repellents are not scientifically proven or not safe for dogs.
If you are wondering if you really need to go through the extra work of protecting your dog from ticks check out the following video.