The basics about protecting yourself from ticks

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Touched by Lyme

Dorothy Kupcha Leland

The basics about protecting yourself from ticks

Ticks can be found in different kinds of terrain, at different times of the year, in different kinds of weather. They come in different sizes. Many are quite small, as easily overlooked as a speck of dirt. They tend to be near the ground—in decomposed leaves, grasses, bushes, fallen logs and on the lower part of tree trunks. When you brush by them, they may transfer to your shoe, your pant leg or your arm. Sometimes ticks hitch a ride on your dog’s fur. And then come on over to you when they get the chance.

A tick may walk up your clothing until it can access skin. When it strikes, it embeds its mouth parts in you and starts sucking your blood. The longer a tick is attached to the body, the more likely it will transmit disease. When engorged with your blood, the tick swells up to the size of a raisin.

Different kinds of ticks can carry different diseases. Your best defense against all tick-borne illness is avoiding exposure to ticks. Your second best defense is to quickly find and remove any ticks that latch on to you.

Most people who contract Lyme get it from nymphal ticks, the immature ones. Because nymphs are as small as poppy seeds and their bite is painless, many people don’t notice or remove them.

An excellent way to protect yourself is to wear insect-repellent clothing. The fabric has been treated with a special process that binds permethrin (a repellent) to the fibers. Testing has shown it to be highly effective against ticks, mosquitoes, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges. Protection lasts through at least 70 washings. You can buy an aerosol can of permethrin at outdoor stores and treat your clothing yourself, though when applied this way, the protection will only last through five or six washings.

It’s important to protect your feet, since nymphal ticks are often on the ground. One study showed that people with permethrin-treated footwear had 74 times the protection of those without it. When you spray your shoes or boots, do it outside in a well-ventilated area, making sure you don’t breathe the vapors.

You should also apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Repellents that include DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil are most effective.

While in the field, check yourself periodically for ticks. Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove any embedded ticks you may find. (Don’t douse them with lighter fluid, dish soap, or other such “remedies.” That can make the tick regurgitate its contents into you—not what we’re going for here.) Click here for more about how to remove a tick.

When you come in for the day, you should do two things: run all your clothing through a hot dryer for at least 10 minutes, which will kill any live ticks that might be present in your clothing. Then, take a shower and thoroughly check your entire body. As you run soapy hands over your skin, feel for unexpected bumps, which may turn out to be embedded ticks. Pay special attention to hidden spots—behind the ears, hair line, armpits, groin, and belly button. Parents should check their young children.

Whether or not you find a tick, stay alert for symptoms that could arise from a tick-borne illness. A bull’s-eye rash indicates Lyme disease, but not everybody with Lyme gets one. You might have a different rash or none at all. You may develop flu-like symptoms—fever, headache, nausea—or joint pain or dizziness.

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Top 10 ways to protect your cat from ticks


Over-the-counter medications that you buy from a veterinarian, in a pet store or online can be a very effective way to control both ticks and fleas. These drugs are very effective in keeping the parasites at a distance for a month. Although these drugs are great, you still need to be very careful about what you use. Make sure you read all labels carefully. If you have any doubts about securing your cat, consult your veterinarian.


Once-a-month tablets are not as readily available as for dogs, and most tick prevention tablets used for cats are actually pills made for small dogs. It seems that the tick pill prepared especially for cats is a product that is still being developed by major drug manufacturers. You will need to talk to your vet about whether your cat can safely use a product designed for a small dog. One of the benefits of using the pill once a month is that you do not have to worry about small children and their contact with the cat immediately after application or with the cat leaving traces of pesticides on furniture.


Bathing your cat with shampoo that contains medicinal ingredients generally kills ticks on contact. This can be a cheap (though labor-intensive) way to protect your cat during the tick season. You will also have to repeat this process more often, about every two weeks, because the effective ingredients will not last as long as spot-on or oral medications. Depending on how the cat responds to bathing, this can be a practical solution.


This form is a concentrated chemical that should be diluted in water and applied to the animal’s fur with a sponge or poured onto the back. You do not rinse the animal after applying the bath product. They can be very strong, so read the labels carefully before using. Do not use this type for very young animals (under four months). Ask your veterinarian for advice on securing puppies and kittens.


Collars that repel ticks are an additional preventive measure that can be used, although they are mainly useful for protecting the neck and head from ticks. The collar must be in contact with your cat’s skin to transfer chemicals to the cat’s fur and skin. When putting this type of collar on a cat, you need to make sure there is enough space to fit two fingers under the collar when it is around the cat’s neck. Cut off the excess collar to prevent the cat from pulling it off and watch out for signs of discomfort (e.g. excessive scratching) in the event of an allergic reaction to the collar. Make sure you read the labels carefully, choosing a collar to make sure it is right for your cat.


Powders / dusting powders, which act locally and protect against ticks, are another method. Make sure the powder you use is marked for cats. Also check the label to ensure that the product is designed to kill ticks as well as fleas. This very fine powder can be irritating to the mouth or lungs if inhaled, so use small amounts and slowly rub it into the skin. Apply powders away from the mouth and eyes during application. You will have to re-apply the product more often, about once a week during the high season. Some powders can also be used in places where the cat sleeps, or in other places where the cat often stays.


Another topical therapeutic use, the tick spray kills the tick quickly and provides residual protection. Sprays can be used together with shampoos and other means and can be useful if your cat spends considerable time in wooded areas. Be very careful when using this product around the cat’s mouth. Read the labels carefully to ensure that the spray is intended for use on cats before use, and do not use it on or near any other animals in the home. Sprays are usually the safest when it comes to young animals.


Keeping your lawn, bushes and trimmed trees short will help reduce the flea and tick population in your yard. If there are fewer areas where these parasites can live and reproduce, there will be fewer. If you still have a problem, consider using one of the various home and garden sprays or granular treatments available from your vet, pet shop or local garden center. Exercise caution when using these products as they can be harmful to animals, fish and people. If you have a serious problem or are worried about the proper handling of these chemicals, you may consider employing an exterminator to apply sprays to the yard and surrounding area to control ticks and fleas.


After going outside in areas where ticks lurk, be sure to check your cat carefully for ticks. Look between your toes, in your ears, between your legs and around your neck. If you find ticks before they get a chance to puncture, you can prevent serious illness from your cat. Removal should be done immediately and carefully so as not to get bitten by yourself.


If you have never let a cat outside, there is no reason to start. On the other hand, we know that it can be very difficult to force a cat to stay inside when it’s out. If you can at least limit the time your cat stays outside during ticks by checking it every time he or she comes home, you can reduce your chances of getting a tick bite because the longer the tick stays on the body, the greater the chance of transmitting the disease such as Lyme disease.

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Preventing your cat from wandering through forest areas where ticks are probably waiting is the most effective way to protect your cat from infection. You can still have a few ticks wandering around the yard, but if you keep order and use preventative medications, your cat should have the minimal risk of becoming a tick meal this summer.

5+ Natural Ways To Control Fleas & Ticks That Really Work!

Now is the time for all good pet owners to come to the aid of their pets and get their flea and tick prevention products lined up and ready to go for warm weather, because regardless of the calendar date, they get stirred up when it gets hot, which is going to be any day now in the southern U.S.

While fleas are ubiquitous, ticks generally hang out in woodsy areas less frequented by humans and dogs, but you need to inspect your pets regularly for them, especially after hiking or a walk through unfamiliar areas.

Tick on a dog

There’s a good video and print description of how to remove a tick from your dog or cat on PetMD. If your pet has multiple ticks, you should take him to the vet to get them out as soon as you spot them. Ticks are very dangerous!

Actually, examining your pet’s skin every day is a habit which pays off in the long run. It helps in finding hot spots, dandruff (yes, pets can get dandruff!), abrasions, and any kind of irritant your dog may have, especially ticks and fleas, so don’t let all that fur keep you from getting to the skin; that’s where many pet problems express themselves.

These are flea droppings which you may see on your dog or cat if you separate their fur.

The goal of flea treatment is keeping those buggers away from you and your pets and out of your home, but fleas do their best to hide out and multiply. You’ve got to start protecting yourselves now; first, by clearing them away from the outside of your property and examining your pets daily to make sure they are not carrying them inside.

Here are my all natural recommendations for keeping the buggers away.

1. Harris Diatomaceous Earth

Harris Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth comes from a single-cell micro algae that come in all shapes and sizes. It has many uses, but one of the prime ones is as a pest control. You want to make sure that you buy a food grade diatomaceous earth like Harris, just in case your pets eat or inhale it. It is very fine, like baby powder, but food grade is perfectly healthy for humans and pets, and some human health products even contain diatomaceous earth.

Every Spring for the last seven or eight years I have sprinkled diatomaceous earth over the areas where my pets play and around all the edges of the house. It has been extremely effective against fleas and ticks, and even controls ants! If you are consistent in sprinkling the powder on your grounds and around the outside of your home once every few weeks and after it rains, you can avoid fleas on your pets and in your house. But, you will still need to keep these other products on hand, because you don’t want to be without effective treatments if you see as much as ONE FLEA!

You CAN use a very light sprinkle of diatomaceous earth inside your home and/or on your pet’s furnishing. Personally, I don’t do this, but many of Harris’s customers do use it, on their carpeting, for example, and even lightly sprinkle it on their pets before brushing with lots of success. Harris Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, organic product you can use anywhere. And it comes with a powder duster!

Harris Diatomaceous Earth Duster

The powder duster may not be large enough to be efficient outside of your house if you have a large yard. If that is the case, you might want to get a larger duster, such as Harris’s 2 liter duster with adjustable duster head, good to distribute diatomaceous earth as well as grainy products like salt and seeds. Believe me, you need a powder duster.

2. Wondercide Flea and Tick and Mosquito Control Spray

Wondercide Flea and Tick and Mosquito Control Spray

Wondercide is another great product for fleas, as well as ticks and mosquitos! And it’s all natural from «seed, fruits, veggies, herbs, and trees.» It comes in different natural fragrances as well: lemongrass, rosemary, cedar, and peppermint!

You can use this product virtually anywhere inside your home. Furniture, linens, beds, carpets. It’s stain-free.

You can use Wondercide Flea and Tick and Mosquito Control Spray even on your pets, but don’t spray it directly on them. Brush their fur in the opposite direction to its natural lie and, after spraying Wondercide on your hands, rub the product on your pet’s body, as close to the skin as possible. Be very careful applying the Wondercide on your pet’s face. It is recommended that you purchase the 4 ounce bottle if you are using Wondercide on your pets. You can purchase larger sizes for spraying furniture, carpeting, and other surfaces.

Before I move on to the next item, I’d like to share the motivation of this company’s owner with you:

I’m sure that’s the same motivation you have to protect your pets.

(Wondercide has other flea and tick solutions (like repellent spray that you can put on your skin or your pet’s) for pets you can find here.)

3. Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Home Spray

Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Home Spray

Another very effective anti-flea and tick product is Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Home Spray, all natural and safe, from peppermint oil and clove extracts. Many customers rave about the effectiveness of Vet’s Best around the home, even on tick nests!

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As for applying the treatment on your pet’s body, as with Wondercide above, I would spray it on your hands first before applying it to your pet’s skin and fur. I just think it’s safer than spray. Also it’s a better way to test your pet’s sensitivity to the product. Some customers did indicate that their pets were too sensitive to use Vet’s Best on their pet’s bodies, but like to use it around the house.

If your dog or cat doesn’t seem to mind the Vet’s Best on his body, the Flea & Tick Wipes for Dogs & Cats are super convenient!

Flea & Tick Wipes for Dogs & Cats

These wipes can save you A LOT of time!

(Vet’s Pets makes several tick and flea products you can find here on Amazon.)

4. Honeydew Pet Pleasant Natural Pet Shampoo

Honeydew Pet Pleasant Natural Pet Shampoo

One thing about fleas, ticks, and mosquitos is they don’t like certain odors, so products with certain natural odors like Honeydew Pet Pleasant Natural Pet Shampoo work well to repel them. Between lemongrass and citronella, the Honeydew shampoo is effective for several days from use. But remember to use the other products listed above to reduce your pet’s exposure to to the pests in the first place, so you won’t have to shampoo every few days.

Honeydew Pet Pleasant Natural Pet Shampoo is safe for dogs, cats, and puppies! It’s a no-burn formula, but please try not to get it into your pet’s eyes!

5. Bragg USDA Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Bragg USDA Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Are you surprised that Apple Cider Vinegar is on my list of best products to repel fleas and ticks? Particularly this apple cider vinegar: Bragg USDA Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar . It’s simply the best for you and your pets. I use this in salad dressings, but I’ve yet to try drinking it mixed with water and sugar to clean my system or to make my skin healthy. Not my thing, so I don’t add it to my pets’ food either. But if you are interested in doing so, you should ask your veterinarian because it is not good for dogs with certain conditions.

If you mix the Bragg USDA Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with water (50-50), you can use it as a spray on your dog to keep almost any insect away from him. Dab some Bragg USDA Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar or spray it lightly on your pets fur and gently rub it onto his skin and it should do the trick.

Remember, if your pets or your house don’t already have fleas, just use the diatomaceous earth in your yard and on the edges of your house to limit their presence. Keep the additional products around just in case.

Tick Control in Cattle

Video of the Day

Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids that survive by feeding off both human and animal hosts. Ticks are responsible for causing and contributing to an assortment of different ailments and failure to control the tick population among your cattle can have serious health consequences for your cows. It is essential for you to take preventative measures against tick infestation in your herd.

Tick Dangers

Ticks pose a number of problems for your cattle herd. Ticks can cause skin irritation and hair loss in individual animals. They can also cause bovine anaemia, Lyme disease, heartwater, gallsickness and an assortment of other diseases. Cows that are infested with ticks may be in poor physical condition, lethargic or even develop infections as a result of the damage to their skin. Ticks are relatively easy to identify; they are small, round bugs that attach to the cow’s skin. Ticks bodies swell as they feed off their hosts, becoming rounder and rounder until they fill up and fall off the host.

Cattle Tick Control

The cows in your herd can be treated with a dip, spray or other long-term aracide treatment to help prevent ticks from attaching to them and that will assist in killing off ticks that attempt to feed on the cows. You can also physically inspect your animals on a regular basis and remove ticks that you observe on your cows. You can remove ticks by grasping them with a pair of tweezers directly behind their heads and pulling them off of the animal. Make sure to get the tick’s head out of the skin or you risk infection developing.

Pasture Management

Your cows will pick up ticks as they walk through pasture. If you want to limit the number of ticks your cows pick up then you need to maintain your pastures. Ticks are more likely to thrive in tall grasses and brush-filled areas; keep your pastures mowed down to help control your tick population. Texas A & M University also suggests treating your pastures with a pesticide that kills ticks, such as permethrin.

Other Methods of Control

Chickens and guinea hens provide an excellent natural source of tick control. You should also put up sturdy fences that will discourage wildlife animals such as deer and hogs from entering your pastures. These animals often carry ticks and will bring ticks into your cattle’s environment. When you are bringing new cows into your existing herd, you should carefully inspect them and treat them for ticks before releasing them into the pasture with your animals.

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