Introduction ~ the dreaded tick

It’s (allegedly) the height of summer. Whilst a lot in life has changed this year, some things unfortunately remain the same as it’s also the height of the tick season – hence our CAM4animals Tick Awareness Week held in July!

They have many names, mostly derogatory such as little ……. (fill in as you please). Their fancy Latin labels include Ixodes ricinus – the main vector (spreader) of Lyme Disease in the UK. But just plain ‘tick’ is enough to get our hackles rising.

Opportunistic, ticks will lie in wait for their next feed and jump onto anything really. They can cause minor irritation and inflammation around the bite, but the real concern with ticks, of course, is the danger of them passing on Lyme Disease to our animals or to us. 

We are mistaken if we malign the tick for everything, however – it simply spreads the disease which is, in fact, caused by the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferiBorrelia causes Lyme disease in humans, dogs, cattle and horses in particular. Deer and rodents act as significant disease reservoirs in the UK. 

If your dog gets Lyme Disease

Symptoms might include at least one of the following – fever, lack of appetite, lameness / joint inflammation, enlarged lymph nodes, musculo-skeletal pain, and heart, kidney or neurological problems.  If you suspect your dog has Lyme Disease – go to your vet asap. Immediate antibiotics may be needed along with appropriate complementary support such as homeopathy, herbs or nutraceuticals.

Daisy the Cockerpoo has Lyme Disease and needs constant care

Prevention is better than cure

Avoiding tick infested areas and undertaking regular tick checks / removal form the basis of any good tick plan.

There are also a number of ways to try and prevent ticks from latching on in the first place or encouraging them to drop off if they do. There are chemical treatments which are briefly covered in our blog “It is tick time of year“. CAM4animals seeks to support new and innovative ideas which may help reduce the chemical load on our animals where this is a sensible option. One innovation is highlighted in our blog “EM Tick-off Necklaces, a natural way to prevent ticks on dogs“. The story of one dog owner’s need to find another way to deal with ticks is related in “Jack’s tick journey“.

Of course, each dog (horse, cat, cow, human….) is an individual and each owner has to consider their own set of circumstances in weighing up how to approach the dreaded tick problem:

  • How bad are the ticks?
  • Can they be avoided?
  • Can you still go on an interesting walk?
  • Is there an overriding need to avoid chemicals if at all possible?
  • Has the dog got skin allergies / sensitivities to consider when applying external treatments or adding anything to food?
  • Is there a need to avoid adding too many supplements to your dog’s dinner?
  • And so on.  

Products our supporters use

Once you’ve considered these points and maybe more, there seem to be a plethora of products. Life is often about weighing up the pros and cons before making a decision. 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 following is a sample of what some of our supporters have found useful for individual dogs in specific situations and may be worth considering in developing your approach to tick control.


Gadgets for removing ticks

It is worth having something to hand with which to remove ticks safely and easily. It is very important to try and remove the entire tick cleanly. However, don’t get too worried about heads being left in, the more important aspect is to try and avoid any regurgitation – by the tick!

O’Tom Tick Twister

O’Tom Tick Twister. Very easy to use and to purchase. Comes in two sizes.

O'Tom Twister
O’Tom Twister

In a comparison study of four different tick-removal devices, published in the Veterinary Record (2006, 159, 526-529), the O’Tom Tick Twister was compared with surgical forceps, a pen-tweezer device, and a tempered steel tool (slit and traction action). The O’Tom Tick Twister proved to be significantly better than the other devices for the time required to remove the tick, the ease with which the tick was grabbed, the force needed to extract the tick, the reaction of the animal, and the condition of the tick’s mouthparts.

Tick Key Tick remover

Tick Key Tick remover

Tick key
Tick key

Their website says this device is the only one on the planet that uses natural forward leverage to remove the entire tick – head and all – quickly and safely without touching or squishing even the toughest engorged ticks. Original TickKey™ is effective in the safe removal of all sizes and types of ticks from people and animals.


Deterring ticks

NOTE: most of these recommendations relate to products specifically for dogs. They might not suit other types of animal (or your individual dog) so please do your research.


Shampoos and coat treatments (also see essential oils below)

What our supporters say

“I use Pro Canine’s Bug Buster Shampoo and Bug Buster Spray if they’re going through long grass / farm fields.  It’s natural plant-based with neem oil.”

From their website:

Bug Buster Shampoo is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal shampoo with Neem. This bug-busting shampoo will rid coat of unwanted pests and leave a long-lasting protection from further infestation. Ideal for flea, tick, mite protection. All Pro-Equine/Canine shampoos are 100% natural and biodegradable by having Plantacare, or coco-glucoside, as a base. This means no sulfates, parabens or diethanolamides.

“I use a layered approach – I do not rely on just one method. This means feeding the correct diet (fleas are sugar-loving junkies – so kibble and carbs sweeten their host’s blood …. feed raw).  I also feed a natural supplement (containing neem and the herbs (see below) Alfalfa, Mint, Fenugreek, Seaweed, Lemon Balm, Echinacea, Chamomile, Calendula, Hemp seed, Parsley) along with regular raw garlic (research appropriate amounts and see video below). Also apple cider vinegar.

I also use a natural shampoo (nothing toxic or synthetic). I’ve done this for 3 years …. no chemicals used. We live in a rural area and walk on beaches, woods, forests and fields…. never had fleas, ticks or worms …. but I layer up her natural protocols to protect her.”

“I spray dilute tea-tree on a bandana that goes around the dog’s neck (NOT directly to the skin). Ticks detect their host by smell, and some natural products like this can stop them from biting.”

“Never had an issue, but I am told spraying raw Apple Cider Vinegar on fur being brushed wrong way and neck, base of tail and ear tips works.”

Pulexit is working for us, in fact it seems to work so well that the tick chose me over Ralph!”

The Pulexit cream activator is a homeobotanical cream used with animals. It can be used with animals as a lotion or spray to eradicate fleas and other parasites. PLX-c must be used externally as an ointment or wash. Ingredients: Tansy, St. John’s Wort, Pennyroyal, Nettle, Red Sage, Made by Homeobotanicals but has to be obtained via a practitioner.


Herbs

Dorwest Herbs

What our supporters say

“I like using Dorwest Herbs Garlic and Fenugreek tablets – good for lots of things.”

Note: Dorwest does not state that this product is for this purpose. However, a lot of the reviews do say it has helped deter ticks and fleas. Dorwest Herbs have articles about fleas and ticks such as this one.

Hedgerow Hounds ~ Natures Bounty

What our supporters say

Hedgerow Hounds‘ Nature’s Bounty is one of their herbal blends – it can be added to food to boost the immune system, it was developed alongside a holistic vet.”  

Nature’s Bounty Herb Blend – for fleas and ticks – from Green’s for Healthy Pets [Note: made by Hedgerow Hounds]. It doesn’t have any preservatives in.  It’s made in small batches and it is only available for a few months of the year, so it isn’t hanging around on shelves too long.”

“Another vote for Natures Bounty, and a good raw diet including garlic. Mine wear raw Amber collars too. We recently moved to a bog inhabited by sheep (amongst many other creatures….!) and so far, so good…..”

Information from Caroline Hearn, MICHT, Dip. ICAT, ISCP.Dip.Canine.Raw.Nutrition, founder of Hedgerow Hounds

Natures Bounty is a blend of human grade, organic herbs, seaweed, berries and seeds that have been specifically chosen to assist in repelling fleas and ticks naturally.

Bounty was the first herbal blend that I created with the assistance of holistic vet Susan Andresier. The overuse of chemicals, whether to prevent internal or external parasites is something I have always felt very strongly about. It can be detrimental to the wellbeing of the animal as well as disastrous for the environment. 

The blend is very palatable and simply stirred into wet food or alternatively can be rehydrated with a little warm water for use on dry food. Many dogs will eat the herbs directly from your hand.

It is recommended that Natures Bounty is started in the Spring, which allows for the herbs to get into the system before the fleas and ticks become active. Some owners report that their dog can have a pleasant, mild spicy aroma to their skin within 4-6 weeks of eating their daily dose. After the first month the dose can be lowered to feeding five days a week.

Ideally Natures Bounty should be started in February and continued until October. It is not available to purchase again until the following spring, as we believe it is not necessary or beneficial to constantly stay on one supplement all year round.

There is a seasonal blend called Autumn Harvest following on from Bounty which does have some natural flea and tick repelling ingredients, although at a much lower rate. Fleas and ticks should not be a problem from November until February, so it is an ideal time to take a break and use a different herbal blend.  

I haven’t used any chemical preparations to control fleas or ticks for around 20 years and my dogs live in the countryside and are very much outdoor dogs.

I have found that a fresh food diet alongside the herbs has been a highly effective prevention.”

CSJ’s Billy No Mates

What our supporters say

“We use Billy No Mates added to food, but it does take 6-8weeks to build up in their system so at this time of year I would think you needed something else instead, or as well as while it builds. I use a neem spray as well if we are going somewhere, I know is really bad, but it depends whether you can put up with the smell!!”

 “I’ve just been recommended CSJ’s Billy No Mates from a homeopath. Think you add it to feed, haven’t got it yet. So far only one tick this year, found it just after he had walked through sheep field!!”

From their website:

Billy No Mates! is a totally natural mix in ‘easy-to-use’ tincture form that is absolutely HATED by ticks, fleas and mites. The aromatic combination of mint, seaweed, fenugreek, neem leaves and lemon balm should be simply added to your dog – or cat’s food. Simply add to your pet’s food or treat. Billy No Mates! is also great for skin and coat condition. We suggest BNM is used from early March but can be used year round. Trusted for over 10 years. Available in a tincture or dried form.


Garlic

garlic

What our supporters say

“I give one clove of raw garlic in food with mine – no ticks or fleas so far, though we have plenty of deer here in Somerset where we live. You can also use tea tree oil 50% water 50% t tree sprayed on coats. Not for cats though only dogs. I use organic clove chopped finely all over her food. She always eats everything up (rescue). If they leave it, you could also put in bone broth.”

“I feed raw garlic and use a homemade spray of Apple Cider Vinegar and essential oils – Rose Geranium, Eucalyptus and Lavender. I use it on myself too 😉”

Video by a vet on you tube Is Garlic Good For My Dog? :


Essential oils

What our supporters say

Some supporters mentioned using their own mix of essential oils. It is important to ensure you undertake a skin patch test before using this method. There are some concerns regarding toxicity of essential oils, how much you can use and which ones are safe on each species. We recommend therefore that you consult an essential oil professional before attempting to make your own mixture. We will be covering this in more depth in a blog in the near future.

I feed raw garlic and use a home made spray of ACV and essential oils – Rose Geranium, Eucalyptus and Lavender.”

Vita Canis – Tick Off

What our supporters say

“Vita Canis Tick Off with essential oils and hydrosols has been fantastic – we live in rampant tick country – smells lovely too. I did a patch test first.

“Vita Canis Tick Off and Billy No Mates (see above).”

From their website:

Tick Off contains high quality essential oils and hydrosols that naturally repel ticks including geranium, grapefruit, cedarwood, rosewood and lemongrass. This vegan and cruelty-free formula is safe for dogs, horses and other large animals… and humans, but intolerable to tick, fleas and harvest mites. Contains non-synthetic chemicals and fragrances. This is a useful blog on natural tick and flea treatments.

essential oils

Tick Hex

This is another essential oil product which also contains neem and apple cider vinegar. More information is found under “Other useful articles” below.


Homeopathic remedies

What our supporters say

“Homeopathic Ledum is a great remedy for tick bites, give it for a couple of days. Give it as soon as you notice it. Most of the time it helps with the itching, too. Ledum is generally a good remedy for any bites or puncture wounds. A great one to have in your collection.”

“This is a protocol suggested by a homeopathic vet:

> Ledum palustre 30c – 1 x day until the Autumn

> Ticks canine 30c 1 x day for a week and then a couple of times a week until the Autumn

> Borrelia burghdorfia 30c 1 x day for a week and then 1 x week until the Autumn. 

I should point out that before this the girls were coming home from the woods with 2-3 ticks each every day.”

“I use homeopathy and an essential oil spray.”

Ledum by Isobel Hunt
Ledum palustre

Other useful articles

“The article featured on this site was written by Canadian Vet, Peter Dobias. Although it features a specific tick prevention product, Tick Hex, it also gives a good account of the potential problems associated with chemical tick treatments and may help in your decision making.”

“Greens for Healthy Pets have a blog: Flea and tick armour for this Spring and Summer – https://www.greensforhealthypets.co.uk/flea-and-tick-armour-for-spring-and-summer/


We’ll be adding to this blog so please let us know what works for you!

Many thanks to our growing band of supporters who are always so generous with their help and relating their experiences.


Disclaimer Where blogs have been created by a guest author, CAM4Animals has reproduced this in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies of information in it or any use you make of this information.

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