Peering through a mist of grass pollen and wildflowers, Jack bounded on through the vegetation heedless of the lurking danger. The tiny monsters who, having feasted themselves into fat little balls of all stomach and no head, were now starving. Their little heads with their ruinous mouthparts ready to burrow and suck the blood of whichever hapless creature passes by…….
Well tough! Not on my dog!
I have used chemical flea and tick treatments in the past, albeit rather haphazardly. I knew the pros and cons. But, as with many things in life, something of such significance occurred that it made me change my approach.
A cancer scare prompts change!
Jack had a malignant mast cell tumour in late 2016. It was successfully removed with good clear margins by our excellent local vet. His recovery was backed up with homeopathic remedies from our homeopathic vet**, including Arnica, Staphisagria and Carsinosin. To date he has remained healthy and clear.
As a consequence of this scare, we have since reduced the chemical loading on Jack wherever possible. So, we raw feed and we follow the worming protocol highlighted in the Holistic View of Worms and Worming blog. The raw feeding of a species-appropriate diet also helps keep Jack as healthy as possible and consequently enhances his body’s ability to deal with parasites.
A tricky tick problem
And as for those blinking ticks? Well, they have been a problem. We live in rural Perthshire and most of our walks are through woodlands and some areas of long grass. We also have the odd venture into open moorland where we’re talking heather or swathes of awful bracken which impinge onto and even obliterate some of the paths in high season. In other words, we live and walk in prime tick country. There are also a lot of deer around which are significant reservoirs of Lyme Disease which is, of course, a key concern.
We have tried doing nothing apart from religiously tick-checking Jack after every walk (it’s better to get them off asap even though the tick needs to be feeding for around two days before any infection, if present, is transmitted). Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t terribly efficient in terms of minimising the number of monsters that attached themselves to Jack. Irritatingly, it also resulted in a severe restriction of where we were able to walk. Walks were often punctuated by, “Come away from there!” Or, “Get your head out of that!” whenever Jack was furiously digging for creatures buried deep within the underbelly of a grass tussock. Or, just plain, “Oi!!”
We tried raw Apple Cider Vinegar both on him and in him. Made him smell like a chip, said my son. And it seemed to have little effect on the ticks. That idea was soon ditched.
I’ve always shied away from adding garlic to his food (another common recommendation) as he’s regularly treated with homeopathy, so we’ve never tested that one.
An essential solution
And then I discovered a product called Tick Off by Vita Canis. It’s a natural product, not tested on animals (it was ticking (!) all the boxes) and made from essential oils and hydrosols which naturally repel ticks. It seemed a good thing to try. On receipt of the first bottle, I was reassured to discover that it smells gorgeous. It would do as a perfume (for me, not Jack) if nothing else. Oh, and it didn’t make my slightly asthmatic husband wheezy – another bonus!
However – and more to the point – it actually does work despite rigorous field testing! The ticks seem to be worse than ever this year, and we are pretty much walking anywhere we want to in those risky habitats mentioned above! After a successful patch test showed it was suitable for Jack’s skin, we were off exploring to our heart’s content.
I have recently discovered another addition to my tick weaponry. For those little ones that are so small, you can’t easily part the fur to remove them, I’ve started spraying the area with Leucillin. The hair lies flat for easy access to the tick and it’s soothing if there’s any inflammation.
On advice from my homeopathic vet, I have always used Ledum if several ticks have latched onto Jack at any one time – several doses over a couple of days. I use Silica once a day for several days if there’s head left in his skin that is awkward to remove. Silica is also good when there’s inflammation from a bite or Jack has been nibbling at it (because I have failed to locate the tick soon enough) such that the tick has become impossible to get hold of. However, I have to say that because the tick protocol is so effective this year, I have rarely needed to use Ledum and haven’t used Silica at all. By the way, I use an O’Tom Tick Twister to remove the ticks.
The new routine
This protocol suits Jack and I would recommend trying it with your dog (or horse or cat). Of course, you may find other methods that are effective too.
It takes a bit of work, but it’s an easy routine to spray Jack before we set out and then check him a couple of hours after every walk. He’s getting much better at having ticks removed – poor sensitive dog that he is – although admittedly this is also helped by a tiny piece of cheese bribery!
Nothing (including chemical treatments) will be miraculous, especially round here. And I do avoid daft areas where he’s going to be practically swimming in overgrown vegetation. But I’m probably having to remove around a tick a week. And that suits both me and Jack fine!! Not to mention the fact it’s better for the environment.
** Homeopathic vets are fully trained in conventional medicine with further qualifications in homeopathy. Other holistic treatments may also be offered such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, chiropractic care, osteopathy, massage therapies or herbal medicine. More information and a directory of vets registered with the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, BAHVS, can be found in our modalities section or here.
Isobel is an active CAM4animals supporter along with her Jack Russell who has integrated veterinary care. She has a background in wildlife conservation and writing, and is passionate about the importance of addressing environmental issues.
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This blog may also contain an element of consumer opinion. Whilst CAM4animals welcomes positive recommendations for holistic healthcare products, we don’t necessarily endorse the product or the author’s opinion. We acknowledge that each animal is an individual and may react differently to the highlighted product/s. There may also be other products available that produce similarly positive results.
The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website