One of the biggest issues facing dog and cat owners during the warmer months is ticks. In Australia, the occurrence of paralysis tick cases peak between early spring and late summer (more commonly known as ‘tick season’) because the weather provides a warm and wet environment for the nasty little critters to make themselves at home. In severe cases, paralysis ticks can cause respiratory failure and even death which is all the more reason why prevention and treatment is important.
According to the Department of Health, the paralysis tick (Ixodes holycyclus) is responsible for more than 95 per cent of tick bites across eastern Australia.
In the life cycle of a tick, its size will range from a barely visible pinhead to around the size of a thumb nail (yuck!). The bigger the tick, the longer it has been on your pet, which is why vets recommend regularly checks. While a tick is happily feeding on the blood of your furry friend it is also secreting its own saliva into your pet’s bloodstream and it’s this process that can cause tick poisoning.
The most common signs of tick poisoning are vomiting and/or gagging or refusing food; some wobbliness in the back legs, which can worsen and cause an inability to stand in your pet; a change in your dog’s bark or cat’s meow; and difficulty breathing (listen out for slow and laboured breaths, with grunting). If you encounter any of these symptoms in your pet you should seek treatment as soon as possible.
While there are pills and drops you can give your pet to ward off ticks the cost of such medications (not to mention vet bills should your pooch or puss need professional veterinary care) can be quite costly. More and more pet owners are therefore looking for natural alternatives to prevent and treat ticks.
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There are a few ways you can prevent ticks. Obviously using a comb regularly to catch fleas (and then drowning them in water), washing your pet’s bedding regularly, giving the place a regular vacuum and/or mop, and treating your pet to the occasional bath are simple and effective ways in which you can naturally control ticks around the home. However, you can also make your own herbal flea and tick collar, and household repellent with these simple tips.
DIY flea and tick collar
This one is for dog’s only. Cats can have a nasty reaction to essential oils, largely because they spend so much time grooming themselves meaning that anything you put on their skin will inevitably find its way into their mouth. Mix 2 tablespoons of almond oil with rose geranium oil. Dab a few drops on your dog’s neck area or place the oil directly on the animal’s collar. Repeat weekly.
Cut a lemon or an orange into quarters and put into a glass jar. Cover with boiling water and let it steep overnight. Put the solution in a spray bottle and then spray your dog or cat, paying close attention to the head, ears, neck, under the legs (do animals have armpits?) and at the base of the tail. Please be aware that oil extracts of citrus are not safe for cats and dogs at all, so be sure to use freshly squeezed citrus for this repellent.
Preventing ticks and fleas doesn’t have to be a chemical-based treatment. These simple and natural methods can save your pet and your hip pocket.
Do you have a pet? How do you tackle ticks and fleas?