Fleas and ticks: how to take a natural approach
Finding evidence of fleas or ticks on your dog is always an unpleasant moment for a pet owner, and it's even worse for your dog! With autumn tick season just beginning, it's important to pay close attention to your dog. This will help you to keep contact between ticks, fleas and your pet at an absolute minimum.
In recent years, many pet owners have developed concerns regarding the environmental and health impacts of using pharmaceutical flea and tick products. Many owners now prefer to use natural, chemical-free methods to repel or treat flea and tick infestations. Holistic vet Dr Nick Thompson MRCVS has been successfully using natural parasite prevention methods for years, so we asked him for his top tips when it comes to naturally successful flea and tick control. He told us:
There’s no need for unnecessary pesticides
It is incredible that so many fleas and ticks have managed to survive the number of pesticides that are used upon them, every single day. One thing that dog owners should always remember is that anthelmintic resistance is becoming more and more common in parasites across the globe. Using non-pharmaceutical products to naturally promote your dog's resistance can have a much more positive environmental impact.
Know how and where to look
Historically, flea and tick season began in spring and ended in autumn. More recently, central heating and improved insulation means that homes are kept at a much more hospitable temperature and these unwanted guests can now live on our pets all year round. Dr Nick advises that you make a habit of building time into your day to check your dog for fleas and ticks. This is especially important if you often walk your dog through long grass or fields containing livestock.
Ticks – Common places to find ticks on your dog are around and inside their ears, on their head and neck (especially under the collar), around their groin, in their armpits and on their feet. Make sure you check between their toes, too! If you find a tick, use a ‘tick pick’ to gently remove them as soon as possible. Gently scoop the tick into your tick pick and either pull very gently or slowly twist, and the tick will detach from your dog.
Fleas – An easy way to detect whether your dog has fleas is to ask your dog to sit and then run a dampened cotton wool pad up and down the fur along their spine. You will begin to see black dots on the cotton wool. The way to tell whether this is flea dirt or mud is to fold the cotton wool in half and rub the two sides together. If you see red smudges on the cotton wool pad, you are likely to have a flea infestation and should consult your vet for treatment.
Treat your home
In the event of a flea infestation, it is critical that you de-flea your home, as well as your pets. For every flea on your dog or on your cat, there are at least 20 fleas in the nearby environment. These could be eggs, pupae, larvae, or adult fleas.
For owners who would prefer not to treat their home with a pesticide spray, there are effective natural alternatives available. Sprinkling diatomaceous earth or bicarbonate of soda on your carpets, curtains and soft furnishing (paying special attention to the crevices between your sofa cushions) will treat the issue. Dr Nick’s top tip is to place a flea collar inside your hoover drum. This will mean that any surviving fleas will be effectively disposed of during your clean up process, without the need for a pesticide to touch your home or pet.
Help your dog develop their natural resistance
It is always better to prevent than to treat, so encouraging a natural resistance in your dog is vital. There are excellent herbal combinations that, once ingested, can help your pet become resistant to fleas and ticks. These herbal combinations are completely natural and safe for your dog to eat. Mint, fenugreek, neem, lemon balm and garlic are all herbs that you should be looking for when researching natural products. They have proven repelling qualities and, when used in combination, they act as a powerful natural deterrent against fleas and ticks.
Our NEW Verm-X Flea & Tick Powder for dogs contains an essential blend of herbs to help your dog build a barrier against unwanted guests. Made from 100% natural active ingredients, Verm-X Flea & Tick Powder has been developed using a concentrated formula that naturally repels fleas and ticks. Adding a small amount to your dog’s daily feed will assist in building their natural defences against unwanted visitors, whilst helping to promote skin and coat condition. Your dog will be able to run free with the confidence that they aren't picking up any extra passengers.
Developed in collaboration with Dr Nick, click here to find out more about this naturally effective flea and tick repellent.