Protecting Your Cats, Dogs and Kids During Tick Season

An approach for one becomes an approach for all!

Ticks, possibly the least lovable of all the multi-legged creatures, get very busy in fall. Like their warm-blooded meals, they enjoy the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, so here we are in the midst of a seasonal tick outbreak. A tick uptick, if you will.

To conquer the onslaught, you need to think like a tick. What do ticks think about? No big surprise really: breeding and eating. That’s about it. Understanding these limited goals will help you reduce tick exposure.

Ticks love to lay eggs in the loose, fallen leaves that accumulate in fall. From these eggs emerge hundreds of new and hungry ticks, so keep your yard tidy at this time of year.

Yard Treatments          

Yard treatments do not have to be toxic to be effective.  Lawn companies offer many choices to conquer the tick population boon. A recent innovation – spraying a dusting of sand to weigh the ticks down – is getting some attention in my neck of the woods and the word is that it’s quite effective.

Where to Look        

When a tick does find its target, it wants blood so it gravitates to the heart and areas where arteries are close to the surface—the head, ears, neck and under-pits.  In humans, ticks often nestle in the groin area as well. Have I mentioned how much I hate ticks?

Herbal Spray 

To confuse a tick’s sensory blood locators, use an herbal spray. If you don’t smell like a juicy meal, ticks might look elsewhere for a blood meal. Look for products that contain eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree oils. You’ll smell great and I can report that the results are effective.

Topical Squirts

There is little doubt that topical solutions applied to a dog’s back keep the tick population to a minimum. But these products are toxic and come with a warning not to touch the application site for three days after use. This is impractical in my home where three minutes of non-touching would be a record.

Finger Massage

During tick season, I disguise my tick searches as massage sessions. Probing deep into their fur, I hunt for ticks while the critters bask in the attention. I’ve even turned it into a little money-making opportunity for the kids: a quarter for every bump they locate. My daughter, with eyes on a new American Girl doll, is breaking all previous records.

Flea Comb           

The low-tech flea comb can be a pet owners best friend. Using during or right after a walk or hike, this thin-toothed tool removes ticks before they’ve implanted. I keep a separate comb for the kids’ hair. Yes, I flea-comb my kids…try it before you laugh. It’s very effective.

Emotional and Physical Health

I recently read a great article by Melinda Miller, the CEO at Smith Ridge Animal Hospital in South Salem. In her piece she makes the simple point that a healthy, well nourished and emotionally stable animal is far better able to defend itself internally against both viruses and bacteria than a pet whose emotionally distraught and whose physical energy is zapped of vitality due to poor health/diet. She stressed good diet and I’ll take it one step further—good diet and a good education improve the responsiveness, stability and self-reliance of us all.

Linda October 17, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Our vet thankfully has been very understanding of our stand on the toxins and twice a year we will have our dogs tested for any tick borne diseases whether they show symptoms or not. years ago, even with the use of frontline, Dodger would still test positive although never showed any symptoms of lyme or any other disease. In any event, we usually dose our dogs at least once a year with a round of doxycycline just to be on the safe side... since there is always that tick that is small enough to avoid detection until it takes a bite... Again, thanks so much.... it was a relief to read your article and find someone else who gets it that poison is poison and not safe for us and especially not for our beloved furry friends. We are deeply saddened to this day to think we probably caused Dodger's life to end so early... thinking we were protecting his health.
Ken McQuade October 17, 2011 at 07:10 PM
For you people out there who have Dobermans or Boxers Skin-dogs as I like to call them. One of the things I find useful for removing Ticks right after a walk are those sticky rollers that are made to pick-up lint and hair from clothing. They work great on ticks that are not embedded yet. Then just peel the paper off and throw away.
Sarah Hodgson October 17, 2011 at 07:18 PM
Sarah Hodgson October 17, 2011 at 07:22 PM
That is perhaps the saddest story I've read in a while. And I can only fathom the guilt. I remember well the chapter in Marly and Me where his wife had a miscarriage--which they traced to their unconscious use of flea repellants. Anything that advises you wrap the EMPTY containers in foil before throwing it in the TRASH can't be good for anyone.
Sarah Hodgson October 17, 2011 at 07:23 PM
This is brilliant! Thanks for adding your 2 cents! I love the two breeds- I grew up with Dobies (Dauntless and Fearless) and my aunt had 2 boxers that would fold themselves in half when they greeted you (Hanzel and Gretel).


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