Protect Your Senior Dog From Fleas & Ticks the Natural Way May 04, 2017 11:33
Most veterinarians where I live don’t recommend starting flea and tick treatment until May but I like to start my dogs on their natural supplement in mid April. It seems that the nasty little buggers are coming out earlier every year. A customer called last week and found a tick on her dog already and March wasn’t even over!
How Fleas and Ticks Can Harm Your Dog
- Lyme disease - This is the big scary one people always worry about. The most common symptom observed is lameness due to inflammation of the joints. However, lyme disease can cause many other complications including lack of appetite, depression, heart abnormalities, and nervous system complications.
- Bartonella Infection - Bartonellosis is an emerging infectious bacterial disease in dogs caused by flea bites. Symptoms include fever, lameness, arthritis, vomiting and more. Bartonella is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be transmitted between animals and humans too.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Despite its name, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has been reported in almost all of the contiguous United States, Western Canada, and Mexico and is transmitted by ticks. Clinical signs in dogs include loss of appetite, fever, depression, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. This disease is also zoonotic and can pass from dogs to people.
- Anemia - Severe flea infestations can cause anemia from blood loss. Signs of of anemia include lethargy, decreased appetite, and pale gums.
- Plus many more tick transmitted diseases and diseases caused by fleas.
Senior dogs have weaker immune systems, which can make them more susceptible to these diseases. It also means that traditional chemical flea and tick treatments can compromise it further. I don’t know about you but I don't want to risk making my dog’s immune system less effective by using potentially toxic preventatives.
Natural Flea and Tick Protection
There are many natural preventatives that make good alternatives to toxic and poisonous chemicals. They primarily fall into two categories - things you pet can ingest (internal) and topical preventatives.
These are my favorite preventatives:
- Treated clothing - Clothes, collars, or bandanas treated with essential oils can help to prevent ticks. Some good oils to use are lavender, citronella, sage/clary sage, cedarwood, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, geranium, sweet orange, and rosemary. Make sure that you use diluted oils, or dilute them yourself, so they don’t transfer to your dog’s skin and cause irritation.
- PetzLife TickZ - This herbal tick repellent helps to repel ticks and other biting insects. It doesn’t contain any chemical insecticides and is great for dogs with allergies. Simply add it to your dog’s to food for months of protection.
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE) - Food grade DE is finely ground siliceous sedimentary rock that dries out the exoskeleton of fleas and ticks, making it an effective pest killer. Simply rub DE into your pet’s fur to keep fleas and ticks from hanging around or get rid of them once your dog has them. You can also and sprinkle it on carpet and their bedding to kill fleas, ticks and dust mites and then vacuum it up later.
- NEEM shampoo - Neem oil, from the bark of a tree in India, both kills and repels fleas and ticks. It will leave an odor that will continue to repel unwanted pests. Treat weekly or more often for effective flea and tick control for dogs and to catch all insects in their various stages of development. As a bonus, neem oil helps to relieve itchy skin due to bug bites.
- PetzLife Complete Coat Insect and Parasite Repellent - This topical formula keeps your dog’s coat healthy and will ward off insects and parasites of all types. It’s main ingredient - extract of Quassia wood or bark (Amargo) - acts as a natural contact insecticide and antiparasitic. The Rain-Tree Tropical Plant Database lists the curative properties of Amargo as: kills parasites, kills lice, kills insects, kills larvae, and treats malaria.
Personally, I like using an ingestible preventative along with a topical repellent for better protection. I often combine PetzLife TickZ and the essential oils, neem shampoo or spray… or I use all of them! That’s the great thing about these - they aren’t toxic so it’s near impossible to overdo it...
Preventing or reducing your pet’s contact with fleas and ticks is very important. A problem with using flea and tick preventatives is that you get complacent thinking that’s all the protection your dog needs. It’s not though. They’re not foolproof. A proactive approach and a watchful eye are actually the best things you can do.
- A healthy dog is less likely to get fleas. Make sure to get regular vet checkups and feed them a high-quality dog food.
- Always check for ticks after a walk. If your dog has a long or thick coat, you may want to use a dog grooming blow dryer to help you part the hair so you can see better. I keep a flea/tick comb at the door and do a once over on their coat before they come in the house.
- Run a lint roller over your dog to remove any ticks that are not yet attached. If you find a tick that has attached itself, remove it safely using tweezers.
The frenzy is starting! I’m seeing concerned comments all over Facebook. I'm starting to feel the panic too. My best advice is to be prepared and know which preventatives are safer for your senior dog before flea & tick season is upon us full-force.