It’s Tick Season!

42

One minute, my husband and I were having a perfectly ordinary conversation in the kitchen. In the next moment, I was ripping off my sweatshirt, my T-shirt, and what I had on under that. No, my husband’s words were not seductive and it wasn’t a hot flash. Can you guess?

“Ack! Tick! On my back! Get it! Get it! Get it!”

With all the restrictions on socializing, my only recreation has been taking my dogs for walks – and three times in the past week, I’ve suddenly felt the unmistakable sensation of something crawling on my body where nothing ought to be crawling. The one that made me rip off my clothes in the kitchen was the third one!

That creepy sensation

The first one woke me out of a dead sleep. I had fallen asleep on the couch while watching a late-night movie, and woke up thrashing – a tick was walking across my wrist! Somehow I came wide-awake immediately and managed to precisely grab the insect – a big dog tick – between my fingers. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever awakened me so quickly, zero to 60, as fast as that feeling.

The second one was while we were walking on a trail. I felt what I thought was maybe a mosquito on my neck. But when a wave of my hand didn’t stop the feeling of something tiny touching me, my fingers explored and I felt the insect crawling along my hairline. I flung it away from me and immediately regretted the action; it would live another day! Darn it! I could have killed it!

The only solace I have regarding the current infestation, typical for this season in this area, is that I haven’t (yet) discovered a tick that had already embedded itself on my body somewhere. I have pulled a couple off of Otto – who is a tick magnet – and just this morning, removed a teeny deer tick, smaller than the head of a pin, from Woody’s eyelid, where it was almost invisible among his eyelashes (he kept rubbing his eye, which made me investigate further). But so far, my sensitivity to the crawling sensation has kept me safe from a bite.

I’m struggling as I write this to keep myself from investigating an imagined crawling sensation every few minutes. I don’t have a tick on me now – at least, I am pretty sure I don’t – but after every discovery of one of the creepy insects, I suffer from lingering paranoia for days. Ugh, I despise them!

I have been flea-combing the dogs assiduously after our walks, and yet, somehow, ticks are getting brought home and into the house – and onto the sofa and onto me! This is making me wish for some sort of pressurized airlock that the whole family (canine and human) has to pass through in order to get into the house, something powerful enough to blow all loose particles off of us and into a flame chamber. If you’re an engineer, you can patent that puppy for free! Just send me a unit when it goes to market, will you?

What do you do that works best for protecting your family (canine and human) from ticks?

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Nancy Kerns has edited horse and dog magazines since graduating the San Francisco State University Journalism program in 1990. The founding editor of Whole Dog Journal in 1998, Nancy regularly attends cutting-edge dog-training conferences including those for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Pet Professional Guild, Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and Clicker Expo. To stay on top of industry developments, she also attends pet industry trade shows such as Global Pet and SuperZoo, educational conferences of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and Pet Food Industry’s Pet Food Forum. As a regular volunteer for her local animal shelter, the Northwest SPCA in Oroville, CA, she fosters large litters of puppies and helps train wayward adolescent dogs in order to increase their chances of adoption. Nancy shares her life with her husband and two canine alumni of the NWSPCA, mixed-breed Otto (whose adorably fuzzy visage was incorporated into WDJ’s masthead some years ago) and Pit/Lab-mix Woody. 

42 COMMENTS

  1. Sadly the only thing that has worked in my area is to avoid shaded woody or tall grassy areas. I spray my fur baby’s legs and underbelly with an EO spray, mist a bandana for her neck and spray her harness with it. I allow her to go potty only in short grass sunny areas or in the crushed rock area outside my door. Thankfully she does not need grass to get her to go! When we walk it is down the middle of the road. Thus far combined with daily tick checks, it has worked. I missed one last April that managed to hide at the base of her ear because I wasn’t t expecting ticks so early. Wont make that mistake again!

  2. Oh Nancy, I feel for you. I wish that I were as sensitive to those creepy crawlies when they get on me. I live in ‘Tick Central’ in northern New Jersey. I have to get as pro-active as you’re being now that the fifth season of the year has arrived. Yes, that would be tick season; the longest season of the year. I’ve found them on me as early as mid February and have pulled one off of me the day after Thanksgiving after checking my bird feeders. Why are they not on the endangered species list like so many of our beloved animals???

  3. I’ve purchased InsectShield clothes for me as well as sending my hiking pants to InsectShield to have InsectShield put permethrin on my favorite hiking wear. Also bought my furry golden retriever Tanner an InsectShield bandana, neck gaiter and sleeveless shirt. He looks crazy hiking in it but better than spending hours picking ticks off of him. The InsectShield coating lasts for 60 or 70 washings. I also spray permethrin on his hiking collar and harness (let dry before using). Sometimes I spray his legs with picardin and wipe it on his ears and head before hiking and give him a bath afterward. I put bug spray on myself too especially my shoes. When Tanner jumps back in the car he lays on an InsectShield car blanket (we’ve had ticks in the past find us in the car later so this hopeful stops that.) We carry a flea comb and a container of alcohol to put ticks in that we see crawling on him – check him at the end of hikes (and during hikes). Also use Nexguard on him monthly for fleas and ticks – but they have to bite him first. Ticks like grassy, bushy areas – not in the sun. They don’t drop on you from trees. Keep your dog from sniffing so much at the edges of trails. It is a battle out there with ticks. YUCK! Sometimes we don’t take him to some preserves here in Florida, too many tick issues. We take him canoeing and kayaking with us more when it gets hot.

  4. I would love to find something that actually WORKS and isn’t poisoning my dog. She has health issues and I’m so scared to give her anything that could cause more issues. We have to give up walking in the woods/hiking when its tick season. None of the “natural” sprays have ever worked well for her.

    • I use Ark Naturals Neem protect spray , available many places online , it keeps fleas and ticks away ! I have been using it for many years and it works very well . It does not remove ticks and fleas but keeps them off of dog. Do not use on cats . It uses all natural ingredients and to my knowledge has no side effects to pets , unless pet is allergic to ingredients. I use once a week year round and reapply if my dog gets wet as it washes off with water . do not get into pet’s eyes or mouth . I hope this helps . RL

      • Thank you for this referral product. Do you have dogs a long coats?? I have Giant Schnauzers, and they have whiskers and longer hair (furnishings) on their legs. I do not want to use poisons, can you reply.

  5. I broke down and bought the Seresto collar. We don’t go in the deep woods or underbrush, we stay on trails or short mowed grass, or dirt roads..I flea comb him after we are out, I use the herbal sprays.. NOTHING works. I have never used a chemical protectant on my dog and was steadfastly against it. But the risk of getting a serious infection from a tick was getting to be too much, I would find a random one on him every few weeks that had been there for at least 24 hours.. and this is on a GSP.. a short haired dog where ticks should be easy to spot!! But those deer ticks (in CT) are the size of a dust particle and carry so many nasty diseases.. I will say, he has had zero reaction to the collar and I haven’t seen a tick on him.. please don’t comment if you are going to condemn me for using this, it was not a decision I made lightly.. but those little disgusting creatures are everywhere here and I find there is no offseason any more.

    • I applaud you for doing what is right for your dog and keeping ticks off is good! I have used Seresto in the past and had no issues with it but it is a scary leap to make. My dog just had a tick on him the other day and I may go back to using Seresto for him.

    • I use seresto collars on my dog’s and cat’s for 3 or 4 years now, never have I had a tick problem on any of them and the cats go way into lands we will never know. I believe in this collar as the best of best and so do the vet’s here in NY. Best tick prevention as well as fleas I have ever found, no messy liquids on necks, skin, yuck. Love Seresto.

    • I use Seresto collars on my 3 dogs and have had no adverse reactions. One of them has even been thru chemo treatments twice. I swear by these collars.

  6. Kathy, I have to disagree. I have had the horrendous experience of having ticks literally drop off of oak trees onto me and my son as we relaxed at a picnic. They are EVERYWHERE!!

    • Becky. Tickencounter.org is a great resource.

      Gave me the idea for Insectshield.

      Copied and pasted from their site:

      2. Do ticks drop on you from trees?

      TERC Answer: No! Ticks don’t fly, hop, run, or even move all that quickly. Depending on the life stage and species, they quest for hosts anywhere from ground level to about knee-high on vegetation, and then tend to crawl up to find a place to bite.

      • They drop of pin oak trees too, I know, had to move, wittle tiny ting red ones dropping on us. So yes ticks does drop outta trees on you !!!

      • Ticks don’t “drop” out of trees, but they can very well end up on low hanging branches that allow them to grab onto higher parts of your body if you happen to brush past. I had a tick end up on my scalp after just such an encounter with a low-hanging branch. If you’re touching vegetation – ANY vegetation – it’s best that you check yourself thoroughly afterward.

  7. Everyone has to make the decision on what to use for themselves. I live just outside of the National Park in VA. on 9 acres of woods and long grass. I use Simparica 365 days a year. Have picked dozens of ticks off me (yes, that crawly feeling will wake you out of a sound sleep) but only 2 nymphal, already dead ones off the dog in 6 years. I have made the decision for him and if it is the wrong one, I will have to live with that.
    Kitti

  8. There is no tick “season” in southwestern PA, we have found them all year, every year for a very long time. They love our two shepherds long fur and cling to it every chance they get! After our walk, two days ago, I found FOUR ticks on one leg of my dog. You would’ve thought my house was caving in with the shrieking scream that soon followed. It took my husband and I a half hour of sorting through my dogs long fur on his leg to finally find the last one. They scramble fast and are sneaky in their journey….my Charlie is an angel and laid there letting us search and search. We didn’t even go into the woods, but along the edge, which is now off limits and makes me sad for my two, who love to explore. Now i just anxiously keep them in the middle of the yard, and we have acres to roam around our home but not anymore. I use Nexgard as well on mine, and haven’t found any embedded, but i don’t want them on them at all.
    Good luck to you all with keeping them away, no judgments on what you try, we try what works best for each of us, and what we have available.

  9. I always used natural essential oil and/or cedar sprays, directly on my dogs, on collars, on bandanas. That helped, but I still found ticks on them so daily tick checks were imperative. My girl started having skin issues which my holistic vet and I chalked up to seasonal allergies, but a couple of years ago I started to wonder if it could be the sprays, so I stopped using them and, you guessed it, no skin problems. So I could no longer use the sprays directly on her and just using the sprayed collar & bandana wasn’t enough (we live in NH, LOTS of ticks here). I relented in my all natural mantra and tried the Seresto collar, figuring that at least I could remove it if there were problems and also only have it on during high tick times. I have to say, it really does work! We also stay out of tall grass, deep woods where they live in the leaves, etc as much as possible and have been doing that for years.

  10. We live on 6 acres of wooded property in north Florida with 3 white shepherds. We have trails cut through the woods and it is heaven for all of us. We have grown accustomed to ticks after 15 years living here. We used Seresto collars from the time years ago when we could find nothing else that worked. But I have found in the last 2 years these collars no longer work as they used to. It used to be with the collars that we would find attached ticks dead on our animals. With the last collars purchased (we used Serestos year-round) we have seen live & engorged ticks on our dogs while wearing the collars. I made the decision to stop ordering Seresto. I don’t know what we will do now…considering options and open to suggestions!

    • Ugh. Also LOATHE ticks and just experienced very similar events on my own scalp(it had woken me up but thought it was the strap of my sleep mask) it had imbedded but not fed thank god! Hubby still asleep so I used my tick tool/alcohol and sacrificed a bit of hairline hair in my haste to get the thing off me! Ditto have found a few on Rita, our labradoodle. One sneaky one in her eyebrow, good thing she is blonde or I never would have seen it. I use natural spray but now she hides under the bed as soon as I pick up bottle. Flea comb too, I try to do daily but she has a lot of fur and hates the comb. As soon as I can, I will buy cheap clippers and work on some of that. I scissor groom her but I here is so much. Diatomaceous earth in bed(s), and on her too but not sure ticks affected as much as fleas.
      It’s a problem, even here in north S.F. Bay Area, Sonoma county.

    • Make sure you are getting the real Seresto collar, not the fake from China. Yes sorry China. Found this fact from vet’s office. So pay for what you get.
      Just confirm the maker is truly Bayer. USA.

  11. I have always used natural methods but now I live in a country with lots of ticks and lots of Lyme disease. I already have a few autoimmune disorders so the last thing I want is Lyme! I did some research, talked with some friends and finally decided to use a Seresto collar. So far I’m happy.

  12. I live on 5 acres of woods in Florida, my German Shepherd and my 3 house cats wear Seresto collars. No Fleas and only the occasional tick when I’m petting/checking and they are usually dead. Everyone in Florida has fleas, Not Me. I Love Seresto.

  13. I make a spray with geranium/lemon eucalyptus/neem oil/ACV/water for my dog and also spray my shoes with it when we go for walks. I do avoid tall grass/brush/leaves if possible. While its not 100% effective neither are the chemicals that vets recommend. Sadly ticks have become a severe menace and danger 🙁 I do place lime powder (from home depot etc) around perimeter of my yard (outside the fence).

  14. I work for a vet’s office and in the last couple of years found that at least some of the Seresto collar complaints were from owners who had bought them off the internet. When the contacted the company it was discovered that the collars were apparently forgeries, as they did not have the lot stamp on the collar itself that the company had moved to. These were shipped in Seresto branded canisters. Can’t say that this happened to those who had product failure, however…..

  15. I have been using a product added to meals, it is Earth Animal Daily Herbal Internal Powder, and I see very few ticks.
    My GSP runs through the woods daily here in the Santa Cruz mountains in CA, and I do a tick check at the end of each hike. This powder is alfalfa, garlic, spirulina, kelp,need, papaya, nettles, and Hawthorne, and makes your pet unattractive to pests. I have seen ticks moving very quickly to get off my dog , and she has gotten many more ticks when I have run out of it. It’s not perfect, but neither are chemical products, and certainly less toxic.

  16. I have had good success with using Springtime’s Garlic Powder with my 90# Bernese Mt. Dog. I give her 2 scoops on her food twice a day during tick season (Apr-Nov) & 1 scoop twice a day over winter. Start out with just a little & increase amount slowly over a couple weeks period. I’ve used it for years without issues.

  17. I live in hunting and fishing country (NC). My Aunt used to sell Avon and she couldn’t keep Avon skin So soft lotion (original scent) in stock. Every fisherman and hunter in the small town where she lived bought it by the case.

    I have been on Archeological digs in the Outer Banks of NC (Hatteras Island) and I apply Avon Skin so Soft lotion (original scent – a nice scent but bugs hate it!!) on my face, arms, hair, etc. when I’m in the woods. Mosquitoes will not come near you when you have this lotion on you. I don’t know if it works for ticks or not but it is sure worth a try. I always use it when I go to my backyard garden and I pin a sheet of fabric softener on my head as well. I would be interested in knowing if this works for any of you. I don’t have a flea problem because my babies are Chihuahuas and they use a cat box (lined with a puppy pad) inside the house. I just scoop and flush and have a diaper pail for the puppy pads when they are soiled. With the diaper pail (and the 3 ply plastic) there is no odor.
    I’ve also used peppermint (diluted with water according to directions) in a spray bottle to spray my clothing, head and all exposed skin areas when going to the garden. This works for mosquitoes, nats, moths and other flying things but do not know if it works for ticks. Hope this will help someone….

  18. We use Bravecto (previously used Revolution) for our Australian Shepherd. We take him for walks daily in a local park (thankfully within walking distance and still open to foot traffic as long as you maintain social distance). We also take him to a field that is very close to our house – and used constantly by deer etc. We live in Olympia, WA where it rarely snows and the temp is generally 30 to about 45 during the winter. We often take him hiking in the Olympics (no longer possible because of the resrictions imposed by confid-19 containment). But we did get a hike on March 9th – The temp was 30 when we started and 48 when we finished and the top 1/2 all snow covered – about 3-4 feet deep but tramped out enough so we only needed micro spikes -yet our dog managed to get a tick in his ear. We discovered it when he started to shake his head constantly as we descended but were still in the snow covered section where the temp was about 40. Not sure where he got it and surprised that ticks were out in the snow!

  19. Omigosh how this post made me laugh. We’re in Nor Cal and have been pulling unattached ticks off for a couple of weeks now. A few days ago after we came back from a walk, I went to the bathroom, pulled down my pants and found a tick crawling up the inside of my thigh. !!!! Like you, I made the mistake of screaming and flinging the thing I-don’t-know-where. That meant I had to throw my pants into the laundry since I may have flung the tick right back into the pants. 😫

    I give my dogs an oral natural product by Earth Animal and normally spray them (and myself) with something from the same brand, but I haven’t renewed my annual habit yet. We all hate the spray but it works.

  20. Quigley and I walk the nature trail here in Central Illinois, and so far so good no tick issues. He wears a baltic amber dog collar which I know works with mosquitoes. Once while walking, there were five mosquitoes hovering around him. I watched as they attempted to land on him, (but it was like an invisible force field) and each time they lowered they bounced back up!! As for ticks — pretty sure it works in preventing them too since I have not seen any, but can’t swear by again for the same reason — haven’t seen them.

    As for ticks falling out of trees, I would say yes because they are on that squirrel that is overhead giving you the business.

  21. I am curious about peoples experience with the more toxic preventive treatment. I have never used them but last year had 20 ticks/day on my collie and 15 on my little short haired mix.. both were positive for lyme disese this Spring and both sleep with us and seriously cuddle everywhere in our house. I bought a seresto collar and my vet prescribed the nexguard for one of my pups who is always next to me or on top of me during the day.. I live in Vermont and the snow is melting but the temp is over 40 and I am very torn. I have never used any of these toxic products on my dogs but am now worried for my own health.. Welcome peoples thoughts and experience.
    Thanks
    Alice

  22. I wouldn’t recommend Bravecto. Go to FaceBook Group called Does Bravecto Kill Dogs? can give you more info. There have been many puppies die because of this product.

  23. Ick, Nancy. I hear you. The odd thing is that I grew up in Chico, and never saw (or felt) a tick in 22 years. We hiked all over Butte County year round, and I can’t recall a single incidence. I now live on an island in the Pacific Northwest, and due to the overabundance of deer, plus seasonally mild temps, we have those pesky tiny deer ticks continually. I flea comb my two goldens regularly, and especially look in places that ticks love to hide; the eyebrows are a favorite! Ugh. Also, a couple of years ago we started using tick tubes. These tubes are made of biodegradable cardboard and filled with cotton balls, which have been soaked with a substance (permethrin), which is toxic to ticks but not to mice, dogs or any other living thing. The mice use the cotton to build nests, and ticks die in the process. Spreading these tubes around the yard twice a year (to time ticks’ life cycles) has noticeably decreased the population in our large, wild/natural but fenced yard. Here’s the company we use:
    https://www.thermacell.com/products/tick-control-tubes
    Of course, this does nothing to prevent those icky stowaways from jumping on for a ride while you’re walking off-property or on a hike. However, decreasing the population immediately around us has absolutely made a difference.

  24. Diatomaceous Earth! DE. We have always used DE to control fleas and most importantly ticks, ever since we move to 5 acres in the country. The very first week we moved in we were infested with tiny seed ticks or nymphs just going from the car to the house! We had to do something fast but didn’t want to poison the stream at the bottom of the front yard. Someone suggested DE. We purchased a 50 lb bag of this flour like substance, purchased a dry powder fogger and donned our masks and fogged away. We did the entire grassed areas of the yard and as far into the surrounding woods that thing could throw the powder as well as along a wooded path. Do it when you will have about 4 or 5 days of dry weather. Guess what? No more ticks, fleas or any other waxy bodied insects. Evidently it sticks to and scratches through the waxy coating and then they just dry up! Seriously it was 7 years before we started seeing ticks on us or our dogs (which were never allowed deep into the woods). then we just did the whole thing again. Seems ticks don’t travel far from where they hatch unless they travel on something. I also use it in my home, under furniture, in cracks and crevices and behind appliances. Keeps and kills roaches too. Also use it in my dog boarding facilty since 2006 and never have had a flea infestation and it seems to work to keep ants away as well. We are still working off that same 50 lb bag after 25 years. It goes a long way.

  25. Our family have been taking a 1000 unit processed Garlic oil pill daily for years ( including our Giant breed dogs)
    None of our dogs have ever shown any adverse side effects from taking their daily capsule !
    to date I have NEVER ONCE found a tick on myself and very rarely on any of our dogs, even after walking in local park fields.
    I have read a number of articles over the years about the possible benefits of taking processed garlic oil

  26. We went back to Frontline, so far so good, Live on tick Island Cape Cod, Only use the chemicals during heavy tick season. We use all the natural, spray, wipes, earth animal internal , Diatomaceous earth, in between an as an addition in heavy season. They all work pretty good but not enuf for heavy ticks time. We did use Seresto for about 3 years but still got ticks, and then I started observing some concerning health issues not major, and not proven due to the collar but enough fro me to stop. My dog got really lethargic shortly after having the collar on like a week or so. I did not use it year round, also she developed a lot of fatty tumors that seemed to multiply since using the collar? anyway I stopped it since it wasn’t providing good protection and her energy came back and so far 1 year no new tumors.

  27. I too swear by Earth Animal. I use the internal powder year round, and add the topical oil April through October. I also use Diatamaceous Earth (DE). We treat around the perimeter of the house, and I sprinkle a few times a week in sofas, chairs, and dog beds and vacuum up. I have seen no ticks on my dogs in two years. I got Lyme a few years back and DO NOT want it again!

  28. We are still trying out different spot-on products as well as collars. We’ve even tried different essential oils. I haven’t come to a firm conclusion. But, I have found what has helped us is to give our dog a short hair-cut and have him wear a bandana. Following this post!

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