This is the time of year when dog owners start asking lots of questions about flea and tick control.
Having lived in the Midwest for awhile with two active lacy dogs I can attest that ticks are an epidemic up here. Every morning after we’ve been outside, I pick all of the ticks I see off the dogs. After our evening walk I, once again, thoroughly pick ticks off the dogs and then the couch and no matter how many I get there is always at least one more.
Spot treatments, sprays, baths…these products are toxic and they don’t seem to reduce the amount of ticks I see every day. Spot treatments like Frontline claim to kill ticks that crawl on your dog within 12-24 hours but by the time the pesticides have done their job, the tick has already had a chance to bite and begin feeding on your dog. So while it seems these products prevent ticks from reproducing in the house or kennel, they do little to prevent the transfer of tick borne diseases.
As far as repellents for dogs, natural methods include external application of food grade-diatomaceous earth, cedarcide, and powdered sulfur. DE works mechanically by scratching away the insect’s exoskeleton but it is reportedly more useful as a yard or kennel treatment since it isn’t necessarily fast acting and the sulfur method has a really unpleasant scent to humans.
The use of Cedarcide, derived from cedar tree oil, seems to be growing in popularity among pet owners and families with young children. Cedarcide is available is many forms to make treatment easy and effective. Visit The Cedarcide Store at http://www.cedarcidestore.com for a list of products.
I read where Consumer Reports recently tested insect repellents for humans and in their test, two Deet-free products worked as well as Deet-based products.
And the top 5 were:
Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II
Cutter Backwoods Unscented
Off FamilyCare Smooth & Dry
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent 8
Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus
The Repel product is simply Lemon Eucalyptus oil which, though it has a slightly greasy feel, smells delightfully like citronella. After a little research I found that, for years, people have been using lemon eucalyptus essential oil mixed with olive oil or some other inert base as mosquito and tick repellent. I sprayed some of the Repel brand on the dogs and, after a romp in the grassy field behind the house, I searched and found….no ticks! Surly it can’t work that well! There’s always at least one tick!
The only problem I have encountered with the spray is the dogs apparently hate the smell and will try like mad to rub it off, often rubbing it right into the carpet or couch cushions. At least it seems the oil-based product is sticky enough to stay on their coat.
With the dry conditions back in Texas I hope most of you enjoy a mostly tick and flea free summer but remember, dog owners do have alternative choices when it comes to pest prevention.