Posted 4 months ago
Could lemon be a useful solution? (credit Getty Images)
They’re potentially dangerous, look horrible and lurk in grassy spots where dogs love to roll – they’re definitely a summer hazard.
Ticks, like fleas and other crawling beasties, are a worry for dog owners. If you’ve never seen a tick close up, count yourself lucky. It burrows its head in your dog’s skin and sucks its blood. The first you will know about it is when you find a swollen blob attached to your pet – that blob is the tick’s body swollen and engorged with blood.
It’s a horror film in broad daylight – a blood sucking parasitic arachnid that latches on to you and never lets go.
A fattened tick feeding on a dog (credit Getty Images)
Infected ticks can spread Lyme disease, a condition that can cause fatigue, fever, stiffness and muscle ache in dogs and, if left untreated, cause serious symptoms progressing to kidney failure, heart and neurological issues in some cases.
Humans and other animals can also catch the disease from infected ticks, so seek medical help if you develop a rash around a tick bite, as that’s a common first symptom.
Don’t worry too much, though – the vast majority of ticks are NOT infected with Lyme disease and removing the tick is a relatively simple procedure with the right tools and precautions.
And, as with fleas, there are some natural remedies that can be used.
Long ago, certain reckless people used to recommend attaching the tip of a lit cigarette to make the tick jump out. Even if it works, this crude method is not recommended by animal health specialists – also you might scare your dog, burn them or set fire to their hair.
Another traditional remedy is to smother the tick so that it either dies or surrenders and backs out in search of a more pleasant environment. For this, you could use lard, vaseline or another gooey substance. The drawback with this method is that it takes ages to work, if it works at all. Apparently, ticks only breathe four times an hour. As if they weren’t creepy enough already!
One treatment that does work is to remove the tick with tweezers. It’s best to remove the tick as soon as you can. Use fine-tipped tweezers to hold the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and gently pull with a steady pressure until the tick is out.
Be careful, however, not to snap off the body and leave the head in – the tick will swell up again! And who would want to leave their dog walking around with a tick’s head under its skin?
You need to dispose of the tick by putting it in alcohol or sealing it in tape. Don’t flush it down the toilet (they can survive this) or leave it to crawl away and bite again.
Alternatively, you can use a specially designed tick removal tool, which has a hook at the end. This makes the removal job easier and helps you avoid squeezing the body.
Sometimes you just can’t itch enough (credit Getty Images)
Some of the more squeamish among us might balk at gripping a tick at all. What’s more it could be a tricky operation where a restless dog is involved. If so, a vet or veterinary nurse will be able to remove it in seconds. Specify that this is what you want them to do beforehand and ask them to waive the usual consultancy fee.
And what about fleas? Cute animals that used to perform in circuses – or pests?
Fleas are synonymous with dogs – there is a saying, which Team Dogs does not approve of, that if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
Aside from being derogatory to dogs, this saying doesn’t even make sense because dog fleas can’t survive on humans. What’s more, who doesn’t like lying down with their dog – in the park, in front of the TV or on the sofa with a good book and sleepy paws?
Nevertheless, fleas on dogs are a pest.
The most-effective anti-tick and anti-flea treatment is to avoid them in the first place.
Apple cider vinegar: Mix the vinegar and water in equal parts in a bottle and spray your dog before going out. The vinegar acts as a natural deterrent to ticks and fleas.
A spray might stop the pests from latching on (credit Getty Images)
Lemon: Cut a lemon into pieces, boil it in a pint of water and leave it to cool overnight. Spray your dog with the lemon water (as long as your dog is fine with this) as fleas and flies dislike the lemony smell.
Chickens: Obviously, this is not a practical solution for every dog owner, but chickens will clear your garden or outside space of ticks.
Herbal products: For both ticks and fleas, there are some pre-prepared herbal shampoos, sprays and other solutions around, such as Herbal Dog Co’s Natural Spot On. This is made from neem leaf, lemongrass oil and other natural products, and has been prepared by specialists so as to be safe for dogs.
Find it here
Natural food supplements: Hedgerow Hounds sells a supplement, Natures Bounty, that can be mixed into dry or moist food. It is made of fenugreek seeds, neem leaf, mint, aniseed, seaweed and a host of other natural ingredients, and aims to ‘assist the body in repelling fleas and ticks while promoting overall good health and vitality’.
Find it here
Farewell Fleaz by Dogs & Co is another natural remedy which aims to deter ticks, fleas and other pests. It is sold in the form of a tincture. Add drops daily to your pet’s food.
These natural remedies are complementary to veterinary products, but your local vet practice is always the best source of advice when it comes to dealing with parasites in a safe way.
But be careful…
While some people may recommend strong-smelling essential oils, such as cedar, peppermint, rosemary or lemongrass, to act as a deterrent, we at Team Dogs urge you to never put essential oils directly on a dog.
While such oils are often touted as natural and therefore safe, they are highly concentrated and toxic to animals.
Tea tree oil, for example, can be deadly. Essential oils can burn or sting your pet’s skin. Even essential oils in a diffuser can be dangerous for dogs. Remember that dogs lick their fur (as well as other surfaces in the house).