Ticks, fleas and worms are some of the parasites that your puppy or dog can get. Today? Let’s discuss Ticks.
So, you know that I like to give you all the information in the world to make you best armed and best placed to make decisions for your pet. Part of this is knowing what you have to do in order to prevent ticks.
Let me be super clear from the start – this piece is entirely about preventative methods. Dealing with ticks will come in separate pieces, this is solely about discussing preventative options!
With ticks, it mainly comes down to…
- Keep them out of your space,
- Keep out of their space,
- Kill them (potentially) if they thwart those efforts.
I’ll be discussing both chemical and natural options for this and where appropriate, I’ll give feedback on how I’ve found these solutions.
What Are Ticks?
They are related to spiders, but they feed on living things a lot larger than themselves and are classified as Parasites.
They carry a whole bunch of diseases depending on where you’re based.
Lyme disease is the most common one. Then in the US, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, and 12 other less than desirable diseases that you just don’t want.
Ticks come in a variety of species, there are actually over 900 species of ticks worldwide.
America, specifically, has 7 recorded species, the UK there are 20 noted, and at least 70 species in Australia (Yuck!). All I can say is that we’re lucky that most ticks are species specific and only feed on them.
Why Do I Need To Prevent Ticks?
Prevention is almost always better than cure. Ticks can carry some nasty diseases that you really want to avoid if possible (Trust me! We’ve dealt with Lyme disease!). You could open your dog up to so many nasty diseases.
Ticks will bite onto your pet (or you, if given a chance) and then it begins to feed. It feasts on their blood and grows quickly in size. All the while the tick will inject it’s toxins into your dog.
This means that if the tick is not found swiftly, removed, and dealt with, that you can be exposing your dog to the slow, gradual onset of a long list of diseases.
What About Where I Live?
Wherever you are around the world? We all get different ticks, different risks, and very importantly? Different seasons that these nasty little buggars thrive on.
Your best first step in planning your prevention is to understand your area. I’ve included my three top audiences, so please don’t be offended rest-of-world! I’m sure google can help.
In the US, tick seasons vary quite greatly. So having an idea on the seasonality of these critters is a great idea. Forewarned is forearmed, right?!
There are more tick species in the UK, but (from my comparative experience) they’re a lot less prevalent. Still, please do be prepared as I did live in a relatively low risk area.
I can’t comment on Canada properly, but I’d imagine it’s less ideal than the states judging by the map above and the general temperature variances.
(There was sensible text here but the post broke, I’ll get to it!!)
What Are My Options To Prevent Ticks?
These are the main areas of how to fight ticks. This area will expand as I find new ways to help you guys – or if I add a product review in to help you guys make a decision, so don’t be surprised if this changes.
These are kind of the staple that most pet parents use. A monthly tablet or treatment applied to the back of the neck. This absorbs into the blood stream and puts a little bit of what is essentially a pesticide within your pet, meaning that if they are bitten, that the tick dies. This means that they don’t get great access to giving your dog the toxins or viruses that they carry. Clever stuff!
They need to be applied monthly, and of course their effectiveness dips after time, so towards the last week, there is a slightly larger risk to getting a tick that manages to hold on…
Whether you pick an ingested powder like Earth Animal’s Nature’s Protection Daily Herbal Internal Powder or brew your natural deterring ingredients into your bone broth like I do, adding in natural flea and tick deterrents really help.
Think of it like naturally giving off “I’m not tasty” vibes to the ticks.
The following are known for helping deter parasites:
- Lemon balm
- Neem leaves
P.s. a great one in the UK is Billy-No-Mates, fab stuff! Have used that myself for years before I moved to the states.
A Note About Garlic Toxicity In Dogs
Garlic has often been touted as extremely toxic to dogs… when the truth is that it really isn’t.
The original study dogs were tested for the effects of toxicity, and were given a dosage of garlic extract – resulting in the findings that a dog of about 50lbs or 22kg (think a good sized border collie) would have to eat about 125g of garlic (that’s 25 large Cloves!!) to experience signs of toxicity.
Then not to mention that further studies have actually proved the old herbal remedy has benefits! The short version: Please don’t worry about feeding garlic to your dogs as a tick preventative.
Then there are collars (both natural and chemical) that can help deter fleas and ticks.
Typically, they have about 3 months of ‘life’ within them before you need to get a new one and pop it on. My understanding is that in the main they work as a deterrent, unlike the chemical treatment first mentioned.
Note: please do your research on these! I’ve never needed to use them in addition to our methods at home (see below) but I know there have been some scary stories associated with some of the chemical based collars.
Temporary Topical Deterrents
Again these come in chemical and natural variants, personally? I’ve used the natural ones and they work (and they don’t smell anywhere near as bad as DEET etc!), so I would always opt for these, personally.
These are temporary though, and they’re the shortest lasting of all of these options, however, they can be a great little extra piece of mind if you’re going hiking or camping.
Some great essential oils aimed at ticks include:
- Cedar Oil
- Citronella (though some dogs are averse, please introduce positively!)
Should I Know My Environment?
Yes! The more wild and untamed an area is? The higher the likelihood that ticks and fleas will be present.
OR! The higher contact your dog will have with other dogs and animals the higher the risk. For example? Daycare and kennel environments are a great propagator of fleas…
Then, generally, a city dog who lives only in the city will naturally have a lot less exposure to these than a farm dog. But when the city dog goes hiking or camping with her family? Then extra precautions may need to be taken.
Where Are Ticks Likely To Be Found?
Ticks love, love, love, love anywhere they can seek shelter from the eyes of birds and opossums (who each eat something like 5,000 ticks every season) so, anything low, dense or crevice-y they’re going to want to make home. Typically, ticks like warm, damp environments, so bear that in mind too, because ticks will let you come to them… quite creepy when you think about it…
Still! Here are some common places you’ll find the little buggars.
- Leaf litter
- heavy, low foliage like bushes
- Stacks of Wood
- Fallen trees, branches or logs
- Stone walls
- Long grass
- Ground cover planted areas
- Garden edges – particularly bordering woodland or forest.
What Animals Carry Ticks?
Ticks are actually carried by different animals depending on the stage in their lifecycle (if they’re not a species specific tick), but the following are known to carry ticks:
- White-tailed deer
- Other rodents
This list is by no means exhaustive – essentially? If they have blood, it’s likely a tick will try it.
I’m Now Worried…Does Anything Else Help With Tick Prevention?
Yep! Ticks particularly are part of the food chain, and you can take advantage of that food chain to your benefit. This part very much boils down to your space and controlling that environment.
Chickens & Other Fowl
Chickens and guinea fowl particularly love ticks. They’re a tasty tidbit, so everyone your chickens gets? The better for you and your pets, right? Less population in the area means less ability to bite onto you and your pets.
And then there’s the added benefit of the eggs and the daft birds running around your yard – chickens are fun.
These Tick tubes by thermacell were developed at Harvard… They target Mice – so if you have raccoons, deer, or other tick-movers-and-shakers responsible for your tick movement – these may not work so well.
In essence? They are small tubes filled with a cotton-wool that is covered in a tick-specific insecticide. The idea is that the mouse comes, snags the cotton wool, takes it to their nest and snuggles down. This kills the ticks on them, preventing them from spreading to your pet.
Now, this is by no means fool proof, but it should help control the population. It’s good to know that these specifically target ticks.
Then there are some less than desirable because they kill most of the insects around — not just ticks. They can also be hard to find pet safe ones, and then the application process is rarely fun… But! They are an option.
Wondercide actually produce a solution for treating your yard all natural deterrent (very similar to the spray I’ve suggested for topical treatment!) that they claim works… and logically? It should! And it makes it totally pet safe, child safe, and a-okay for all even seconds after spraying.
Which Tick Control Is The Best?
This is really hard to say. Because you have to consider the effects for your dog (i.e. some dogs actually get severe allergic reactions to some essential oils, or to chemicals), for your home (i.e. you may be super busy and applying a pesticide to your 20 acre yard (my dream!) is just not going to work.
That’s why I’ve given you a range of options in here and explained them to the best of my ability.
One size does not fit all. You may prefer to treat your yard, use internal powders and collars and opt not to use any chemical treatment. Can I say I blame you? No…
I won’t say you’re wrong either.
These are your decisions to make. Not mine, not your vets… yours.
So, this is the best information you’ll find about this on the internet, nothing gives you a full, rounded approach like this does. Because I’ve considered it a lot!
What Works For Us.
Poor Shelby has had a run in with Lyme disease, it wasn’t easy, and it was really confusing to try and deal with. It’s not something I’d wish on any dog, nor would I take the risk again.
Personally? I use internal herbal remedies year round, we add in the monthly chemical treatments in our peak season (which in Maryland is March to December) because our yard is a busy yard for wildlife (at least when the dogs are away), and we’ve had deer to chipmunks and everything in between going through our yard, so caution is something I preach.
We keep the grass down, we tame the space as much as possible, and so far? Touch wood, We’ve had no ticks – and at one point, Lucy came in from the dog bush (a forsythia bush we have built a tunnel through for the dogs, yes, we’re dog nerds in the Rebarkable house…) and we pulled 7 off of her!! Seven!! So that’ll show you that this does work.
Personally, I like using the internal powder year round and the chemical treatment for 9-10 months – to me? This makes the ticks less likely to hop aboard our dogs, and then if they do? They die… it’s kind of a, “Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you…” approach.
Though we are getting chickens too! Which I’m stupidly excited about.
Ticks Be Gone!
I’m really hoping that this can help you, your puppy or dog and entire family to feel more safe being outside. It’s not a fun thing to deal with, but knowing how best to prevent ticks for you and yours is always going to be a help.
If you do need help, speak to a good vet, or to me, I’m always happy to help you guys become well educated, considerate puppy parents!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021’s worlds’ best pet blog!