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Seven Ways to Control Ticks Without Chemicals

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

A tick.

A tick.

Ticks can be a big problem in some areas, and they can spread several serious diseases, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and others.

Your dog should be checked every single day. It will only take a few minutes to check her, but it can make a big difference to her health. Keep her free of ticks and do not let them stay on her, suck her blood, and pass diseases that will hurt her.

Natural Tick Control

  • Garlic
  • Omega 3
  • Fatty Acids
  • Vitamin C
  • Aromatherapy
  • Herbal Supplements
  • Tick clothing
  • Environmental control
Dogs can get a lot of ticks in the woods. It's a high-risk area!

Dogs can get a lot of ticks in the woods. It's a high-risk area!

How Can I Prevent Ticks From Getting on My Dog?

  • Garlic: This natural supplement is used in the same way when given as a flea preventative. You just feed it to your dog and the scent from the garlic, allicin, will act as a tick repellent. You can give your 30-pound dog about a clove a day; give less if she is smaller, more if she is larger.

    Some sources claim that garlic is toxic for dogs because it has the misfortune of belonging to the same family as the onion. A lot of people have given garlic to their dogs and realize it has no harmful side effects.
  • Omega 3 fatty acid: This product will keep your dog´s skin healthy and may make her less vulnerable to ticks. The best product available is easy to use--all you have to do is pour it onto your dog´s food once a day.
  • Vitamin C: Although this product has not been studied, many holistic veterinarians recommend it as a natural tick preventative. An accurate dose has not been determined for dogs; I would recommend starting out with the 500 mg tablet and moving up in the dose in 500mg increments. If your dog has loose stools you need to give one tablet less. I am lucky enough to have access to acerola cherries, a fruit very high in vitamin C. I supplement my dog with this fruit both for the Vitamin C and other vitamins contained in it.
  • Aromatherapy: The essential oil mixture that prevents ticks is mixed with olive oil and applied to those areas the ticks seem especially fond of; between the toes, in the flaps of the ears, in the underarms, and on the belly seem to be favorite targets for my dog. Try a mixture of 6 drops of lavender, 6 drops of peppermint, and a bay leaf in about 15cc of olive oil.
  • Herbal supplements: Milk thistle, an herb normally used for liver repair, is now also used in tick control, but it may be most effective at removing toxins in the body after a tick bite.
  • Tick clothing: No, tick clothing is not just for humans.

    If you are going to be hiking in an area where ticks are a big problem, you can try dog booties, tight socks to protect her legs, and a t-shirt that covers most of her body. As anyone who has ever gone hiking knows, protective clothing can help a lot but will not totally protect you. Some of the ticks will not be able to get into her coat, however, and you may be able to prevent that one tick that's carrying a deadly disease.
  • Environmental control: In the house, vacuum thoroughly to pick up any tick eggs and seed ticks. It may also help to spread borax powder over your carpet before vacuuming (this will help destroy the eggs and young ticks).

    In my neighborhood, most of the ticks are found out in the fields where the feral horses come each day, and since the environment is so large I raise guinea fowl to keep the ticks under control. If the area infected with ticks is smaller, you can use diatomaceous earth and spread it on your grass. Environmental control also helps with fleas.
Walking through brush, a dog may pick up a lot of ticks.

Walking through brush, a dog may pick up a lot of ticks.

What Can I Do If She Does Get a Tick?

  • Flea comb: This will pick up ticks as well as fleas. After each stroke, I rinse the comb to remove any live fleas or ticks. It is impossible to cover the entire body on every grooming, however, so sometimes a tick might be missed.
  • Tick twister: This product allows the tick to be removed without squeezing it. (You can watch the video I attached to see a demonstration of how it works.) When the tool is in place, the tick is caught in the fork and is then rotated out, not pulled.
  • Tick removal tweezers: Ticks can be removed with normal tweezers. The advantage of the tick twister is that the tick is not squeezed as it is removed. In addition, no mouth parts are left on the dog's skin since the tick is rotated out slowly. If you do use regular tweezers, rotate the tick out slowly so as to lessen the chance of any tick mouthparts being left in your dog.

It does not matter if you are dealing with the deer tick in the east, the Rocky Mountain Wood tick in the northwest US, or the dog ticks all over the US: any ticks you find can carry disease. Some of them can survive for years without feeding but when the scent of butyric acid attracts them they will jump on your dog and feed. No matter how good your tick prevention program is, your dog is probably going to get ticks. If you care about your dog, you will check her daily.

Remove them quickly, before they have a chance to spread diseases.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 Dr Mark


Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 07, 2013:

You can also use food-grade diatomaceous earth to be applied to the pet as a preventative. It is far, far safer than the poisons sold in spot-on drops and collars. You can find all the detailed information at a site called "TinyTimmy (dot) org)

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Bob Bamberg on August 31, 2012:

I think it's because of its properties as a desiccant. Since birds have only one excretory orifice, the cloaca, my guess is that the DE dries up some of the liquid waste before it exits. It helps, but the chicken coop is still no bouquet of roses!

I should also add that DE is extremely difficult to work with and people should use a mask over their nose and mouth. It's like talc and creates a lot of dust that you shouldn't breathe in on a regular basis.

If people use it in their dog's fur, they should caution their children not to let their face touch the dog.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 31, 2012:

I laughed at your comment about Ajej. No one around here making those comments! She is a real sweetie but looks like a guard dog.

I mentioned DE in my flea hub, but have not tried it here in the tropics because it rains a little almost every day. I guess if I used it right on her, after our morning walk on the beach, it would be more effective, but she usually bathes again in the afternoon, and she would lose it at that time. This afternoon the tide was up so I let her go swimming in the river that runs on the back of the island.

Why would DE reduce odor from droppings? Any ideas on that one?

Bob Bamberg on August 31, 2012:

Good hub, Doc. I sold food grade diatomaceous earth at my store for parasite control. It can be dusted throughout the plumage and fur to control external parasites on poultry and mammals, and added to the food to control some internal parasites. As a bonus it reduced odor from droppings somewhat, too.

People also used it on their dogs for the same purposes. Plus, as a desiccant it absorbed some of the moisture in stool making it easier to scoop. It's important that people use food grade D.E., though, as opposed to the stuff you use in a pool filter.

It would be interesting to invite readers to write a caption under Ajej's picture (isn't she beautiful, by the way). My entry would be: "So you think this collar makes me look fat, huh?"

Voted Up, useful and interesting.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 31, 2012:

I am not sure which of these methods is best since I use the garlic and Vitamin C, but when I take my dog to play with the neighbors dogs I am always amazed at the tick burden they have, and she has so few. I still find a tick once in a while between her toes, but prevention is definitely worthwhile.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on August 31, 2012:

Your dog is a beauty guarding your house, but looks none too happy about that camera! gotta love those dogs.

Haven't had any tick problems thus far. This is good information to know.

Shasta Matova from USA on August 31, 2012:

Fleas and ticks have been having a good year this year after a warm winter, so this information is very useful. I haven't tried that tick remover, but it does sound promising. I really appreciate your providing the prevention tips - I will be feeding my dog more garlic to see if that helps.

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