How to Repel Ticks Naturally and Prevent Lyme Disease

How to Repel Ticks Naturally and Prevent Lyme Disease

It’s a beautiful summer in full bloom but, unfortunately, more and more cases of Lyme disease are being reported. Many people are looking for natural ways to repel ticks without having to use harsh and dangerous chemicals. You’ll be happy to know that there is one alternative that is a sweet smelling, yet powerful way, to fight against these disease carrying creatures.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need to do anything to keep ticks at bay because you will simply just “pull off” a tick should you find one. While it’s true that ticks can be removed fairly easily, but by the time an infected tick bites you, it’s too late. Lyme disease is a tiny microorganism that varies from country to country, but in America, that microscopic bug can cause you a world of hurt. Many people experience flu like symptoms, but for some people, this disease becomes chronic. Along with those flu like symptoms, people experience arthritis, chronic fatigue, skin problems, neurological problems, and a lowered motor function of the lower extremities. It’s much better to avoid a tick bite to begin with than to deal with health problems later should you get bit by an infected tick.

It helps to understand how ticks operate. Ticks go by their sense of smell. They don’t fall out of trees or jump around like fleas do, they find you through a process called questing. Ticks will climb to the top of blade of grass, rock, or plant and stick their front legs up in the air, checking out the air for victims. Even if you find one in your head, it crawled up there. Ticks legs have a fantastic thing called Haller’s organs, which search for smell, movement, temperature, and carbon dioxide. They can actually smell you coming! They see you as a place of warmth, moisture, and food! There is one thing ticks don’t like, however, and that is the scent of rose geranium essential oil.

There are two types of rose geranium oil, so in order to get the most tick repelling force for your dollar, look for the one with a botanical name of pelargonium capitatum x radens. There is another very popular oil which is from the same family, called pelargonium graveolens, but it’s not the same species.

Many essential oils need to be diluted but this one does not, as long as it is used in small doses. All it takes to repel ticks, however, is a few drops on each ankle, on your wrists, a dab behind the knees, and one on the back of the neck, and you are set. You can use this on your dogs as well, but since their noses are much more sensitive to smell, use a bit less. Place one drop behind each shoulder blade and one on the base of their tail, which should be enough to do the trick. Avoid your dog’s face or nose as they are extremely sensitive and can’t handle any smell that is too strong.

There are other oils such as cedar wood, lavender, eucalyptus, citronella, and lemongrass that have been found to be useful in repelling these annoying little insects, but many claim that rose geranium oil works the best. You should check specific directions for whichever oil you choose as to how to dilute them, if this is required, before using them. No matter which scent you decide to use, take precautions and always check yourself, and your dog, thoroughly after walking through the woods or tall grasses.

You should note that rose geranium is a single oil, it’s not a mixture of rose oil and geranium oil. Not all oils are recommended for animals, especially horses and cats. Consulting your vet before you apply any essential oils on your pets would be a wise decision.

Treatment & Symptoms For Lyme Disease In Dogs

Although they are tiny, ticks are a huge concern for dogs and their people. Certain species of these eight-legged ectoparasites of the arachnid class are responsible for several serious diseases, including Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, in humans, dogs, and other animals.

A bacterial illness caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme disease is carried by black-legged ticks. An infected tick must feed for at least 24 hours to enable transmission of the bacteria into the victim’s bloodstream, which then travels to different parts of the body, infecting specific organs or joints. Occurring more frequently in younger dogs than adults, Lyme disease may present as arthritis, with dogs exhibiting pain in their legs and joints.

Early diagnosis of Lyme disease is imperative for a good prognosis — if left undiagnosed, it can be fatal.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Although Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease, it only causes symptoms in 5-10 percent of affected dogs.

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced energy
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Intermittent lameness due to inflammation of the joints
  • Stiff gait with obvious discomfort and pain
  • Swollen joints

If a dog showing any of these signs of illness is not promptly taken to the vet and diagnosed, it can lead to potentially fatal kidney failure or, rarely, neurological and cardiac damage.

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Diagnosing Lyme disease in dogs.

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination for symptoms of Lyme disease and look for any engorged ticks that may be attached and remove them. They will also review your dog’s medical history, ask you when she was bitten, and the signs of illness you have observed since the onset.

Blood is drawn for a complete profile. If the tick bite was quite recent, the level of antibodies for Lyme might not be present at this early stage in the test results. Conversely, if a dog has been infected with Lyme for a long time, there may not be enough antibodies left to test positive, resulting in a false-negative result for dogs who do have the disease.

A specific DNA test called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is also performed in the diagnosis of Lyme disease. This test confirms the presence of the disease-causing bacterium, but like the blood test, it can result in a false negative when it shows up in an infected joint but is not present in the blood cells.

How are dogs with Lyme disease treated?

Lyme disease is routinely treated with a course of antibiotics over several weeks to resolve the clinical signs of the illness. However, in prolonged infection, other medications or therapies may be needed to relieve specific symptoms.

Can humans get Lyme disease from dogs?

The only way you can get Lyme disease from your dog is if an infected tick is transported into your home in your dog’s fur and crawls onto you and bites. Lyme disease is not directly transmissible from dogs to humans or other pets.

How to identify the ticks that cause Lyme disease.

Ticks are about the size of a sesame seed. They don’t jump or fly but crawl. They hang around on the tips of grass and vegetation waiting to grab onto a host for a meal. After feeding, they become engorged and significantly larger. It’s important to be able to identify a tick on your dog or yourself, and either learn the correct way to remove it or take your dog to the vet to have it removed. If in doubt about what to look for, the creepy magnified photos of the different species of ticks abound on the internet, and many veterinary offices hand out tick I.D. cards with pictures of a tick before and after feeding.

How to prevent your dog from contracting Lyme disease.

Keeping your property as tick-free as possible by eliminating their preferred habitat is one way you can prevent your dog from contracting a tick-borne disease. Thin out dense foliage and bushes, trim your grass short, and remove leaf litter, debris, garbage, and woodpiles. Exclude wildlife such as deer with fencing. Don’t allow your dog to freely roam if you’re in a region known to be tick-friendly.

Many dogs have a propensity for nosing around in the dense brush, especially scent hounds. When hiking or camping, you can keep a close watch on your dog and decide where he goes if he’s on a leash. Consider a 30-foot-long, retractable leash that allows him the freedom to explore while you control where he goes, reining him in if he gets into areas where ticks could be lurking.

In the United States, the areas of highest Lyme disease occurrence are the Northeast, the Upper Midwest, the Atlantic seaboard, and the Pacific coast. Protect your dog during the tick season with an EPA-approved tick control product available at your vets, such as Frontline®, Sentinel®, Advantix®, or Seresto ™. These affordable safeguards give you peace of mind knowing your dog will not get Lyme or other tick-borne diseases.

How to Treat and Prevent Tick Bites on Dogs

Ticks are tiny insects that thrive in warm and highly vegetated areas, and often take up residence on pets like dogs and cats. As they are mainly active in warm weather, ticks become a problem for pet owners during the spring and summer seasons.

Just like in humans, ticks attach themselves to your pet’s body to feed on their blood. Pets easily pick up ticks while romping around in tick-infested yards or hiking in the woods with their owners.

Also, ticks can survive for some time indoors on curtains, underneath rugs and on furniture before biting your pet or other family members. A tick infestation can spread quickly.

When bitten by ticks, dogs can show signs like swollen lymph nodes, pain and swelling in the joints, loss of appetite, fever, skin irritation, anemia and so on. Some of these symptoms may indicate that your dog has been infected by a disease that the tick transmitted.

Ticks may carry diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and others. If your dog appears to be ill, especially after tick removal, consult your vet as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there are many simple and easy ways to prevent and treat tick bites on dogs.

Simple Ways to Get Rid of Ticks in Dogs

Here are 10 ways to treat and prevent tick bites on dogs.

1. Manual Tick Removal

When you’re dealing with just one or a few ticks, the best and most effective way to get rid of them is manually picking them off your pet.

  1. Put on a pair of good quality gloves, get a pair of tweezers and put some alcohol in a bowl.
  2. Check for ticks on your dog’s skin. If needed, part the hair with a fine-toothed comb to help you thoroughly inspect all of the skin.
  3. Once you spot a tick, grab it using the tweezers.
  4. Drop the tick in the bowl of alcohol to kill it.
  5. Clean up the site of the bite using a disinfectant.
  6. Finally, wash your hands as well as the comb and tweezers.

Note: When removing a tick with tweezers, make sure to grab it by its head, close to the skin. Do not twist the tick as it may cause the tick’s mouthparts to break and remain embedded in the skin.

2. Liquid Dish Soap

Liquid dish soap is also beneficial in killing ticks. It will suffocate the tiny insects, and they will gradually come off the skin.

  • Pour some liquid dish soap in a bowl. Using a cotton ball, apply it on your pet’s body, covering the area where there are ticks. Wait 15 minutes, then give your pet a bath. Repeat as needed.
  • Another option is to fill a bowl with hot water and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap. Dip a comb in the solution, then comb it thoroughly through your pet’s fur. Dip the comb in the solution again as needed. Do this once daily until the ticks are gone.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

For dog owners, apple cider vinegar works as a natural and effective tick repellent. Its acidic taste is unappealing to ticks, and thus helps keep the ticks from latching onto your pet.

  • Put equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Add 2 or 3 drops of lavender oil. Put the cap on the bottle and give it a few shakes to mix the ingredients. Spray the solution on your pet’s body, taking care not to get it in the eyes, ears and nose. Run a comb through the wet fur, then give your pet a bath. Repeat once daily but you don’t need to bathe your pet daily.
  • Alternatively, you can add 1 to 2 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (depending on your pet’s size) to your dog’s food or water bowl once daily.

4. Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Food-grade diatomaceous earth, a nontoxic powder consisting of ground fossils, marine life and fresh water organisms, can help kill ticks and prevent an infestation.

  • Sprinkle some food-grade diatomaceous earth on your pet’s body and rub it around the skin gently to control ticks. Wait 24 hours, then bathe your pet. Repeat again if needed.
  • To control a tick infestation, put some food-grade diatomaceous earth powder in the areas where you pet spends the most time. Allow it to sit for about 12 hours, then vacuum the area thoroughly. Repeat the process once a week for 2 or 3 weeks.

5. Tea Tree Oil

The medicinal properties of tea tree oil can help get rid of ticks from your pet’s body. Its antiseptic properties also prevent infections from developing in the bitten areas.

  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your pet’s regular shampoo. Use the shampoo to wash your dog’s fur 2 or 3 times a week.
  • Alternatively, put 5 or 6 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water. Spray it directly on your pet’s body. Comb thoroughly, then bathe your dog. Do it 2 or 3 times a week.

6. Neem Oil

Neem, also known as Indian lilac, can help control a tick infestation as well as kill the tiny insects. The strong odor of neem oil helps repel unwanted pests.

It also contains antiseptic and antibacterial properties that help sanitize the bitten area and prevent an infection.

  • Pour a few drops of neem oil on your palm and gently rub it on the affected region. For dogs that are sensitive to neem oil, dilute it with almond oil in a ratio of 1:10 and use accordingly, twice daily.
  • Put 2 tablespoons each of neem oil and a mild detergent in a spray bottle. Add 1 cup of water to it and shake well to mix the ingredients. Use this spray on your dog immediately. Allow it to dry. Repeat once or twice daily. Prepare a fresh batch for each application.

7. Lemon

Lemon is an easy way of killing and repelling ticks. Lemon juice contains citric acid, which is great at getting ticks off your pet’s body.

  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice directly on the affected part of the dog. Wait 10 to 15 minutes, then give your pet a nice bath. Repeat as needed.
  • Boil 1 to 2 lemons (cut into thin slices) in a pan of hot water. Cover and steep the solution overnight. Strain and transfer the solution into a spray bottle. Spray it on your pet’s skin, especially behind the ears, around the head, at the base of the tail and in the armpits. Comb thoroughly through the fur. Repeat as needed.

8. Salt

Salt is a nontoxic ingredient that can be used safely to combat ticks. This hygroscopic agent attracts moisture, which ticks do not like.

Also, it causes dehydration, ultimately killing the ticks.

  • Mix ½ teaspoon each of salt and baking soda. Combine 1 cup each of vinegar and water, then add the dry mixture to it. Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray it on your pet’s body. Comb and then bathe you pet. Use the treatment 1 or 2 times a week.
  • You can also give your house a good cleaning with a mixture of salt and baking soda to effectively kill and repel ticks, fleas and other parasites.

9. Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil also works as a natural repellent for ticks. The oil will suffocate the ticks, ultimately killing them.

  1. Combine 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, 10 drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil and 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid.
  2. Stir the mixture well.
  3. Apply it on your pet’s body using a cotton ball.
  4. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Comb the fur thoroughly before giving your pet a bath.
  6. For best results, repeat 2 or 3 times a week.

10. Dog Tick Collars

Dog tick collars can also help repel ticks to prevent a tick infestation, especially in the areas around the head, ears and neck.

There are several brands of dog tick collars available in the market. You can ask your vet to help you choose the right one.

To allow the chemicals to reach other parts of the skin, the collar should be worn in such a way that it is in contact with the skin. Also, make sure that there is enough room to allow two fingers under the collar.

Watch the dog for any signs of discomfort, such as itching and scratching, to make sure your pet is not allergic to the chemicals in the collar.

Lyme Disease: Signs, Symptoms and Prevention Tips

Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria belonging to the Borrelia family. The disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, known as a deer tick. The tick becomes infected after feeding on infected deer or mice.

A tick needs to be present on the skin for 24 to 48 hours to transmit the infection. Most people with Lyme disease have no memory of a tick bite.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is the most common disease spread by ticks in the northern hemisphere. It affects about 300,000 people a year in the United States and 65,000 people a year in Europe.

The disease is more common in areas that are grassy and heavily wooded than the flat plains. In the U.S., it is concentrated heavily in the northeast and upper Midwest regions of the country.

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Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of this infectious disease vary and usually appear in three different stages – early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated.

Stage 1: Early Localized

In this first stage, symptoms generally appear in a localized area about one to two weeks after the tick bite. The most common sign is a “bull’s-eye” rash, which indicates that bacteria are multiplying in the bloodstream.

The erythema migrans rash is present at the site of the tick bite, with a characteristic red spot at the center surrounded by a clear area with redness at the outer edge. The rash is not painful and does not even cause itching but may feel warm to the touch.

Stage 2: Early Disseminated

This stage occurs several weeks after the tick bite. As the bacteria begin to spread throughout the body, rashes may appear in areas other than the site of the bite. You may experience flu-like symptoms, such as chills, fever, sore throat, fatigue, muscle pain and a headache.

Other signs include enlarged lymph nodes and vision changes.

Neurological signs like numbness, tingling and Bell’s palsy (facial drooping) can also occur.

Stage 3: Late Disseminated

If the infection is not properly treated in the first two stages, Lyme disease enters the third stage. At this point, you may experience symptoms including severe headaches, joint pain, numbness in different body parts, mental fogginess, disturbances in heart rhythm, short-term memory loss, mood changes and sleep problems.

Tips to Prevent Lyme Disease

1. Avoid Wooded and Bushy Areas

One of the best ways to prevent getting exposed to the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is to avoid areas where deer ticks live.

Areas where there is a high concentration of ticks include wooded, bushy areas with long grass. Avoid these places as well as areas littered with leaf debris, especially during the spring and summer months.

Particularly in the north central and northeastern regions of the U.S., try to plan hikes or other outdoor activities carefully during the spring and summer months. If going for a hiking trip, stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass.

Dogs can also pick up the ticks, so keep your dog on a leash.

2. Dress Properly

Wearing shorts and T-shirts may look like a comfortable option, especially during the summer season and on hiking trips. But if you live in a deer-tick infested area, you need to wear clothes more sensibly.

When in wooded or grassy areas, cover up as much of your skin as possible. It’s best to wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves to keep ticks from biting you. Make sure the clothes you choose are tight at the waist, wrists, ankles and neck.

Also, choose clothes in light shades. This is important as light-colored clothing will help you spot insects and ticks more easily.

3. Use Insect Repellent

Insect repellents are effective at protecting you from insects, including deer ticks.

When you need to go out, especially in woody or bushy areas, apply insect repellent on your skin. Parents should apply repellant on their children, avoiding their hands, eyes and mouth. However, insect repellants are not recommended for children under age 3.

As chemical repellents can be toxic, you can try natural repellants. For instance, oil of lemon eucalyptus gives the same protection as any commercial product. You can spray this oil diluted with carrier oil on your skin as well as your clothing.

4. Tick-Proof Your Yard

An important preventive measure is taking steps to discourage deer ticks from coming into your yard, where you probably spend the most of your time outdoors. To do so, keep your yard as clean as possible.

Get rid of potential tick habitats like piles of dead leaves by using them to make compost, burning them or throwing them in the trash (if that is allowed in your city).

Cut downlong grasses and keep the bushes trimmed. Also, keep wood piles in sunny areas.

If you do not have the time or energy to keep your yard clean, ask for help from friends or neighbors. Even hire a professional, if necessary.

5. Be Vigilant about Inspecting for Ticks

Those living in infection-prone areas should remain vigilant in order to prevent getting Lyme disease.

Always check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks, especially after spending time in wooded or grassy areas. As deer ticks are very small, you must search really carefully to find them.

Ticks like to hide in hair, so check your scalp too!

6. Take a Shower after Coming Home

Whenever you go outside for a hike or go camping during the summer months, always take a shower when you get home.

Ticks often remain on your skin for hours before attaching themselves. Thus, showering with warm water can help wash away unattached ticks.

Also, tumble dry your hiking clothes on high heat for one hour to kill any ticks that may be hiding in the folds of your clothes.

What to Do if You Find a Tick

If you find one, remove the tick as soon as possible with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick, which may cause parts of the tick’s mouth to remain in your skin.

Once removed, you must dispose it of properly and then apply some antiseptic cream to the area. Also, continue to monitor the bite site for signs of a rash and see your doctor immediately if a rash develops.

Treatment Options

Lyme disease is best treated in the early stages. Early treatment is a simple 14- to 21-day course of oral antibiotics.

Oral antibiotics, such as doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime axetil, are the most common treatment for the condition.

Persistent or chronic Lyme disease is treated with intravenous antibiotics. Although the antibiotics may be given for a period of 14 to 21 days, symptom improvement may occur more slowly.

According to the CDC, 10 to 20 percent of patients may have recurring symptoms even after following appropriate antibiotic treatment.

Recovery is quicker and more complete the sooner treatment begins.

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