How to prevent ticks from biting and infecting your dog
“8 ticks in my baby’s fur. It was so gross. And so worrying...”
My 4-year-old chow chow Bailey is a super fluffy tick magnet.
This wasn't an issue until we moved to a new house in Massachusetts earlier this year. But our 1-acre backyard is wooded. And within one week of being in our new house, I found 8 ticks — 4 small ones, 4 fully engorged — crawling through Bailey's fur.
It was so gross. And so worrying. I removed the ticks right away, but I was still panicking. I know first-hand what bad news ticks can mean for a dog. Let me explain.
Limping and worse
My brother has a golden retriever named Max. They do a lot of agility competitions together.
One day during training, Max just lay down. He looked at my brother and said, nope. And later in the week, walking across a parking lot, my brother said he could hear a toe nail dragging.
“These are classic symptoms of tick-borne diseases...”
As you may know, both of these are classic symptoms of tick-borne diseases. So my brother took Max to the vet. And back came the diagnosis:
Anaplasmosis. Which can cause lameness... lack of energy... kidney problems... and possibly even death — if it's not caught in time.
How many dogs does this happen to?
Anaplasmosis is not the only tick-borne disease that attacks dogs. There's also lyme disease. And ehrlichiosis. And even some new mystery illness that I'll tell you about in a second.
The thing is, Max was lucky. He got diagnosed quickly and he got the treatment he needed. That's because my brother knew in detail how Max normally behaved in training and competition. If Max's only job was to lie around the house and be fluffy, maybe nobody would have noticed anything until it was too late.
Which raises the question, how many dogs are stumbling through life feeling like crap because people don't see the subtle signs of the infection? And what can we do about it?
Waiting until bitten
Typical tick and flea solutions, such as Seresto or Bravecto, contain chemicals that kill fleas. However, there are a couple of serious problems with these products.
“Hundreds of reports of adverse reactions linked to chemical flea killers...”
For one thing, the chemicals inside can themselves be harmful for dogs. For example, the EPA has logged hundreds of reports of adverse reactions linked to chemical flea killers — some of them minor, but others even leading to death.
But that's not all. These products aren't even that effective, since they kill ticks and fleas once they bite. That's not good enough, because some tick-borne diseases can infect your dog quickly. In other words, you'll want something that will repel ticks, not just kill them once they've already done the damage.
So I started doing a lot of research. And I found that some essential oils, such as lemon eucalyptus and cinnamon, act as natural acaricides — substances that repel and kill ticks and fleas. Here’s why this makes sense.
“Effective because they've been selected by nature...”
Essential oils are basically plant extracts. Plants use them to repel various harmful insects, ticks and fleas included. Which means that essential oils are natural, and less likely to cause adverse reactions. And just as importantly, they are effective because they've been selected by nature especially to repel ticks.
It all sounded good in theory. But how would it actually work in practice? There was only one way to find out.
We try it out
After I discovered ticks on Bailey, I took him to the vet. He had a blood test, and fortunately he didn't have anaplasmosis or Lyme disease or any other tick-borne illness. I wanted to ensure he would stay healthy and wouldn't pick up a tick-borne disease in our wooded back yard.
“I just put it on him and he went on about his business as usual...”
So I started with a serious anti-flea and anti-tick shampoo. And then I did more research and found a dog collar called PawSafe Anti-Flea Collar that specifically contains the essential oils that repel ticks. I bought it and it arrived in a few days.
It had an unusual aroma — that's the mixture of essential oils — but it wasn't overpowering or unpleasant. And most importantly, Bailey didn't seem to mind. I just put it on him and he went on about his business as usual.
For several weeks, I groomed and inspected Bailey each night. There was no repeat of ticks, which made me very happy. It's been over 3 months now, and he is still entirely tick-free.
“This is good evidence that the collar is working...”
Of course, I have no way of proving that it's due to the PawSafe collar, but I believe that must be the case. After all, Bailey picked up 8 ticks in our back yard within just a week of being there. For the past several months, it's been getting warmer and he has been outside more and likely exposed to more ticks.
To me personally, this is good evidence that the collar is working. Which is reassuring. But there's one last question that needs to be answered.
Is it safe?
Like I said, essential oils are natural plant extracts. This doesn't make them automatically safe. For example, I did research on which essential oils are safe for dogs. And many that are used in so-called natural tick and flea collars — such as tea tree oil — are actually not recommended by vets.
“Bailey hasn't had any complaints or health issues since he started wearing it...“
If you do decide to go with this kind of dog collar for your pet, I suggest you do your research about the essential oils that are inside. I did this with the PawSafe collar, and I'm comfortable with the ingredients. And Bailey hasn't had any complaints or health issues since he started wearing it several months back.
Even worse than Lyme
I mentioned earlier there's a mysterious new tick-borne disease that's spreading throughout the country. It's called Powassan virus, and it can infect both dogs and humans. The real scary thing is that unlike Lyme disease, which is transmitted in 24-48 hours, Powassan virus can spread in less than an hour. It can cause seizures, encephalitis, and in rare cases, even death.
If you needed any more reason to keep ticks away from your dog, then I think this scary new virus is it. I'm really happy I have this tick collar to protect Bailey from ticks and the many diseases they can bring. I encourage you to check it out and get one for your pup as well.
40% off for the moment
I just got an email notification that the PawSafe Anti-Flea Collar is on sale for 40% off. I'm not sure how long this sale will go on. But in case you're considering getting this for your dog, it makes sense to check it out now. I’m even thinking of taking advantage of this offer to get a replacement for Bailey for when his wears out.