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The Nitty Gritty on Tick Prevention This Season

Ticks are straight up NASTY creatures! Like seriously GROSS… do they even serve a real purpose in this world? Sorry, not sorry, if they do... but when you're in the dog business, you can't see past all the negatives to find a single, redeeming quality. Soooo, if you know of

any, please share!

So here's where I'm at as far as ticks go:

  • Firstly, they're a blood sucking parasite - No! No! And, NO!

  • Secondly, they cause multiple diseases including Lyme Disease which can be life-altering and sometimes deadly! Again, NO thanks!

  • Lastly, tick-borne diseases are, let me get fancy & geeky on you, zoonotic - which means they can cause disease in both animals, like your dog, and YOU! Seriously, NO redeeming qualities!!

So, how can we protect our pups and ourselves from these nasty beings all while enjoying the great outdoors, now that the weather is getting so nice?!?! Let me preface this by saying that all dogs are different, and you should ALWAYS consult your veterinarian for the safest and most effective ways to prevent ticks for YOUR dog. As you know, I'm not a vet, and the following is based on my own online research and discussions with local veterinarians. Again, I can't stress this enough, consult your own vet before using any of the following on your dog.

One thing is for sure, I try to use natural remedies that are non-toxic as often as possible - for me, my family, and my dogs too. As y'all know, Baker is snuggling up on our dogs, as well as yours, all day every day!! So you can bet your butts we aren't using anything with DEET up in here!! Now, let's get to it... Here's 6 tips to avoiding ticks this season:

Eco Lawn Spray - hook this baby right up to your garden hose and plaster your yard (after a fresh cut), shrubs, trees, etc. covering them with natural essential oils to kill and repel not only ticks, but fleas and mosquitoes as well! It's safe for cats & dogs, adults, and kids with no drying time required. The main downfalls here are having to reapply the treatment at least monthly so pest populations don't get out of control. AND, you should also consider, is your dog only staying in your yard? If you go on walks/hikes in town, you have a ginormous yard (like us), or your dog ventures beyond your yard - this isn't going to be a solid solution, BUT not a bad backup/secondary method.

Essential Oil Spray - we use bug spray for ourselves, so why shouldn't our fur babies have a little perfume that can serve as a repellant too!? Like I said, I don't spray myself or my kids with any bug sprays containing DEET or any other toxic chemicals, so I wouldn't dream of doing anything like that with my dogs either! Enter: Joan Cleaver and her all natural, home remedies! Now before you go all Karen on me preaching about how essential oils aren't safe to use around dogs, listen! I strictly use Young Living essential oils that are 100% pure and have a seed to seal guarantee. They also have a line of essential oils specifically for dogs!! Now, you are right Karen, there are SOME essential oils that should NOT be used around dogs, or need to be highly diluted, like Peppermint, Thyme, Oregano, Clove, etc. AND, you're also right in that we do need to be careful applying essential oils to dogs as they are highly sensitive to the scents. If you want to read more about the do's & don'ts of essential oils and dogs, Young Living has a whole page on it:

BUT, the bottom line is, essential oils are totally fine to be used on animals and I'm using a combination of lavender, cedarwood, and geranium essential oils in my DIY tick spray for our dogs. Lavender is a natural tick repellent, stopping tick eggs from hatching. YAY! Cedarwood blocks a tick's scent receptors, so it can't smell your dog in the first place! (Hmmmm... maybe I'll try that myself!) It also dehydrates ticks to the point of death - #winning And finally, Geranium oil works similarly to the other two oils, BUT has been proven to be just as effective, if not MORE effective than DEET without all the nasty chemicals. These oils are applied very lightly, as it doesn't take much to do the trick, and again dogs are SUPER sensitive to the scents. I'm applying on the back,

belly, legs, and behind the ears being very cautious to avoid the face and eyes! (*NOTE* this is NOT to be used on cats!!!) I'm now offering this spray for your dogs while they're boarding with us at no extra cost! Baker INSISTS on a daily visit to "butterfly hills," which

means a journey through the high grass fields (see the photo to the right), so I can't help but do what I can to prevent the inevitable.

Lint Roller - after a trip to "butterfly hills," or really any trip through the fields at this point, because the grass is getting as tall as Baker, I'm taking a lint roller to my dogs and snatching off any ticks that haven't yet attached. Thank goodness!! Seems silly, not scientific at all, BUT - it works, and it's cheap!

Now onto the 3 that we most often hear about from our vets, commercials on tv, and our go to - (Damn, I wish I was an affiliate for them right about now!) Just some food for thought as you soak up all this info like a sponge... ticks can crawl around on your pet for 2-3 days before becoming embedded into their skin. This gives ample opportunity to jump from your dog and end up in your bed, carpet, or even worse - on YOU! Furthermore, in most cases, a tick must be attached for 36-48 hours to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. What am I telling you this for?? So you can answer final jeopardy some day and share your winnings with me!!! Kidding, kidding... my point is that we want to try to repel ticks from ever getting onto your dog, as well as prevent them from attaching with whatever methods we choose to use. Soooo, let's keep going, shall we:

Collars - such as Seresto, will repel ticks and even prevent them from attaching. Win, win! We just need to be sure that they are applied tightly enough to have skin contact. This treatment option is kind of nice because it lasts for 8 MONTHS!! The cost is a little hefty up front, but when it lasts 8 months it ends up being cheaper than most other options. One of the negatives of this option is that some dogs do experience a skin reaction, so be on the lookout for that.

Topical - there are soooo many options, and depending on the ingredients, some are better than others! K9 Advantix II contains permethrin which repels and prevents tick attachment. Just a warning for my crazy cat ladies, K9 Advantix II should not be used on your dog if you have a cat in the house!! Frontline, on the other hand, contains fipronil and does not repel or prevent tick attachment, and doesn't kill ticks until after they've been attached for 24 hours! Topical applications usually last about a month, so you're looking at reapplying a greasy-like oil to your dog's back pretty regularly. The good news is, application is easy, the cost isn't too steep, and some topical treatments can be bought over the counter. HOWEVER, our local vets warn that non-prescription forms of tick prevention may not be as effective, as ticks seem to have become "immune" to them.

Oral - such as Nexgard or Bravecto, that contain isoxazoline do not prevent tick attachment, but they have a relatively fast tick kill time at 12-24 hours. However, this means that the tick is attached and embedded into the skin, so you can decide how you feel about that. Oral treatments can last from 1-3 months depending on the brand. Nexgard is the only FDA approved option for preventing infections that cause Lyme disease, so that's a huge plus! Administration of oral treatments can be tricky if your pup is a picky eater, but generally they come in yummy flavors. And, you'll also need a prescription to get either of the brands mentioned here.

Our dogs are like our children, and just as some kids are breastfed and some are formula

fed, you're going to make the best decision for your fur baby that you (and your vet) feel is safest and most effective - hopefully, I've given you some extra info that makes that decision process a bit easier!! So here's to wishing you all and your fur babies a summer full of LOTS of trips to your own "butterfly hills" with no encounters with the useless beings - ticks!!

XOXO, Hezz & Baker

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