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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Protecting Your Pets Against Ticks

Jul 01, 2015 02:12PM ● By Mary Oquendo

What has eight legs, is smaller than a dime and strikes fear in your heart? If you guessed ticks, you are correct. At least they strike fear in the hearts of many pet owners.

Treating tick borne diseases successfully is dependent upon correct diagnosis, as well as early treatment. Just as with humans, the best way to avoid tick borne diseases for pets lies in prevention. Although there is a Lyme disease vaccine available that, in theory, inactivates the Lyme bacteria, there are no available vaccines for the other 13 tick-borne diseases.

The clinical signs of any tick-borne disease with pets include fever, loss of appetite, stiff joints, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, the symptoms may be mild to asymptomatic and, in others, debilitating.

Protect your outdoor space

Treat your property with a child, pet and bee-safe tick deterrent, such as cedar chips and diatomaceous earth (DE). The cedar chips must be made from real cedar, not cedar-scented, while the DE must be food-grade as pool-grade DE is poisonous for your pets. You can also sprinkle dogs and cats with food-grade DE on their bodies as well.

Since shorter grass is drier, keep the grass cut short because ticks prefer moist conditions. Trim bushes away from walkways, as well as remove bushes in pet yards. Ticks can be deposited on bushes as deer pass through.

Chickens love to eat ticks and provide fresh eggs. Check zoning and educate yourself on their care before adding chickens to your household.

Check your pets

It is best to conduct daily snout-to-tail assessments as most ticks do not attach immediately; instead, they rather walk around to find a spot with good blood flow. That is why you find more ticks around the head, ears, and neck. By taking the time to go over your pets daily – especially after they come in from a walk, you may be able to remove a tick before it has a chance to attach.

Protect with products

Natural-based tick repellent collars and sprays: There are some effective repellent products developed using herbs and/or essential oils. Several of these products are profiled in this issue (see pages, 47). Many natural repellent sprays contain essential oils that may be harmful for cats so check the labels and do some research before you apply to cats. The con to using natural products is that they need to be applied frequently.

Natural internal flea/tick powders: Formulated by Dr. Bob Goldstein, co-founder of Smith Ridge Animal Hospital and Earth Animal in Westport, the Earth Animal line of internal powders are special blends of dark brewer’s yeast, garlic, B vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that work synergistically. Taken orally, the powders produce an odor that is undetectable by humans and is loathed by fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and black flies. The internal powder makes your animal less attractive to infestation. All ingredients are human food grade with no insecticides, chemical preservatives, salt or sugar. This line of products is available at many high quality pet product retailers in the area.

Chemical monthly spot-on products: These have been the conventional standard for flea and tick treatment for many years. They can be effective though there are increasing concerns among veterinarians about pest resistance to their primary ingredients because they have been so widely used. If you opt for this type of product, purchase it from a quality pet retailer and avoid less expensive supermarket varieties as many have been linked to serious medical conditions. The con to using monthly spot-on products is you are applying a pesticide directly to your pet’s body.

Don’t let fear of ticks ruin your summer. Preventive care will minimize your pet’s and your risk of exposure.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master pet tech pet first aid instructor. She is the co-owner of Hands and Paws-Reiki for All in New Milford. For more information, visit See ad, page 57.

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