Dog ticks can be a huge problem. I have been through this, since I have two furry dogs at home and once you have ticks, you cannot really completely get rid of them. As negative as this might sound, it is true, nevertheless. You shampoo your dogs, you treat them with vet-approved dog tick prevention products (spot on treatments, powders, sprays-the works!) and you still see a tick or two when the weather turns warmer. So what can you do? How can you protect your dogs and your home? Below is a true account of the steps I took whilst dealing with dog ticks. It is a combination of conventional remedies as well as holistic ones and I have seen good results with them. I hope they help you too.
Step 1: Shampoo your pet
Before you use any spot treatment, powder or sprays, you must shampoo your pets with anti-tick shampoos. I use dog ticks treatment products with permethrin as they work the best. If you can get a shampoo containing anti-fungal as well anti-tick and flea medicines, even better. This way, you can prevent fungal infections like ringworm and also ward off fleas and ticks. While bathing your pets, you might see ticks embedded in your dog’s skin. Remove them with a pair of tweezers. Bag the ticks for your vet to identify. Let the shampoo remain on the pet’s body for at least 10 minutes. (You are going to be spending an hour or two on this step, so be prepared and be patient.) Massage the pet thoroughly. Now, repeat the entire procedure-which means you need to shampoo twice. This might sound extreme but it is necessary. Also, it will dry your dogs’ coats, so you must also use a conditioner afterwards. As a final rinse, spray some diluted apple cider vinegar on your dogs’ coats.
Step 2: Vacuum the house thoroughly
And by thoroughly, I mean thoroughly. Get inside those cracks and crevices. Do not forget to vacuum under the beds. Remove the rugs and dust them outside. Better yet discard them. Remember: your pet may be treated with fipronil and other dog tick products which repel ticks but once the effect of the medicine starts to wear off, the ticks will be back and they usually come from your pet’s environment. Hence, it is imperative you discard all the old bedding and vacuum every day until the infestation is under control.
Step 3: Boil lemons
Yes-life has given you lemons (in the form of ticks)-so you boil them-literally. Take lemon peels (you can even take entire lemons- but I usually just squeeze the juice out and store it for later use. Then, I use just the lemon peels for this remedy. Boil at least 10-15 lemon peels in 2 liters of water for 30 minutes. Yes, you heard right. 30 minutes. The water must reduce to half its size. Cover the utensil and let it steep it overnight. Let the lemons’ medicinal properties infuse in the water. (This recipe is adequate for one dog- increase the quantity accordngly if you have more pets). The next day, crush the lemon peels in the water, then filter it. Add 2-3 drops of Tea tree essential oil, 2-3 drops of Eucalyptus oil and 2-3 drops of Spearmint or Peppermint oils to this solution. Fill this tick fighting blend in a clean and empty spray bottle. Spray it all over your pet, on the carpets, on the curtains around your pet’s sleeping areas, on the legs of your beds and all over the furniture. You will not only have a cleaner fresher smelling home; you will also repel all kinds of bugs.
Step 4: Injectible medication for pets
In case of severe tick infestation which does not respond to shampoo, sprays, spot treatment and powder etc, take your pet to the vet. Your vet might inject your pet with anti-tick medication. This is completely safe and the results are instantaneous. I especially recommend it for dog ticks embedded in the dog skin which cannot be removed with tweezers (if they are very close to the eyes or near the mouth) or embedded deeply in the dog’s paws. The injectible takes care of all the ticks.
Step 5: Trim the dog’s fur
Both my dogs have long hair. The ticks get embedded in their paws, inside their ears, on their eyes etc-so a biannual hair cut is essential. We take the dogs to professional groomers and ensure they trim all of the hair off the ears, from the paws, and even underneath the paws. These are the areas with extreme tick infestations and we get to see engorged ticks here (yikes!). The hair grows back in completely within 6 months.
Step 6: Wash the bedding
We literally strip off all the beds from all bedrooms. We keep the mattresses outside for a day and dust them with Diatomaceous Earth or Borax powders. These are food grade but we cannot sleep on them until we dust them off. Inhaling the DE dust is harmful for human lungs. In the meantime, we wash all comforters, blankets and pillow covers in hot water. A trip to the commercial cleaners helps since they have industrial grade washers and dryers. We spray the box springs with bug repellent essential oils (eucalyptus, neem, spearmint, etc) and also dust the diatomaceous powder in the headboards etc. It is best to leave the home for a couple of days during this treatment. This way, the DE powder can work its magic. Once you are back, vacuum the home completely and keep windows open. Replace the bedding, sheets and covers. If all this is too much hassle, call in professional pest exterminators.
Step 7: Apply spot on treatment on the pet
Spot on treatment is available online or at the vet’s and you can use it in addition to the injections. Apply it on the pets’ spine in two areas: one is between the shoulder blades and the other at the base of the spine, near the tail. These are areas where the dog cannot lick itself. Make sure you apply the medicine on the skin by parting the hair completely. If you have had your dog’s fur trimmed as explained above, this should not be a problem.
Step 8: Stay away from grassy trails and treat ticks in yards
When taking your pets out on daily walks, stay away from grassy trails where ticks are predominantly found. If your pets run in your yards, you must also trim the grass and reduce clutter. It helps if you can spray beneficial nematode sprays in the gardens to keep tick population in control. Discourage possums, raccoons and other wild animals from making a home in your yards. Use dog tick prevention products mentioned here. Also, comb your dog’s hair completely to remove ticks they might have picked up on their walks.
Step 9: Repeat above steps every 2 months
Yes, this is necessary for ongoing tick control. Do use dog ticks treatment (for dog ticks on humans) mentioned in this guide and other resources on this site before taking your pet outside.
Step 10: Feed your dog a healthy diet
Brewer’s yeast, diluted apple cider vinegar and a diet rich in B vitamins and omega 3 essential fatty acids can keep your dog healthy and resistant to tick bite fever, Lyme disease etc. I prefer home cooked meals such as rice, chicken and vegetables. My dogs seem to love it too. I recently started them on grain free hypoallergenic meals once a day and am seeing good results. Talk to your vet about the right food for your dog breed.
These 10 steps will help you keep your dog free from dog ticks.