by Meg Wittenmyer, Bifrost Farms Boarding Kennel
You may think it’s too early to be talking about tick prevention, but for Wisconsonites, ticks and tick-borne diseases are never far from a dog owner’s mind. It is estimated by the CDC that up to 53 percent of all dogs who live in areas of our state (Northern and Western) where Lyme disease is most prevalent could be infected. Ideally, it is much easier to prevent a tick bite than to have to treat the disease once transmitted. There are a myriad of products sold over the counter to repel ticks and fleas, but those of us who would rather not put a deadly chemical on our beloved pets are always looking for natural alternatives. Essential oils (EO) are ideal an ideal solution.
EO may be applied by spritzing your pet or by directly applying a diluted oil to their fur. First, be sure that you are using therapeutic-grade pure essential oils, and when using on your pet, always dilute at a ratio of 2 to 3 drops per tablespoon of carrier oil (olive, coconut, jojoba, almond).
There are several oils that have been proven to repel ticks (and fleas) and can be used on humans, dogs, and horses. Most, however, cannot be used on cats. These oils are rose or rosewood, geranium, peppermint, grapefruit, myrrh, pennyroyal, and Palo Santo (a Young Living EO blend). Also, peppermint oil (undiluted) can be used to force a tick to release without leaving the head in your pet.
If your pet is unfortunate enough to contract Lyme disease, your veterinarian will undoubtedly want to oversee the pet’s treatment with antibiotics, which is the only known cure. However, you can facilitate your pet’s recovery with oregano and peppermint oils, both of which contain anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Just place a couple of diluted drops of either or both on your dog’s ears and inside the pads of their feet.
And remember to learn the symptoms of Lyme disease, so you can notice it early in your pet. These include stiffness, achiness or swelling in one or more joints, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, or a stiff walk with arched back. Consult your veterinarian immediately should you suspect your dog has been infected.
To make a spritzer for use in a spray bottle, use this formula:
1 cup of distilled water
2 drops geranium EO
2 drops Palo Santo EO
2 drops rosewood EO
1 drop myrrh EO
4 drops grapefruit EO
1 drop peppermint EO
1 drop of Castile soap (emollient)