Oh boy, it has begun…an all out war…It’s the season of the killer bugs, and that’s not exaggerating. Mosquitoes and ticks carry more diseases now than ever before, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the statistics say this year will be worse than the last. It has been reported that ticks on the Northshore are carrying a disease called Pawassan Virus. CBS Boston states that 15% of the people that contract Pawassan Virus will die. Other tick-borne diseases in Massachusetts include Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Scary, and we haven’t even touched on the diseases that mosquitoes are carrying. When it comes to our Dogs we know Heartworm is the enemy that is transferred through mosquitos. We are all petrified of West Nile, Malaria, and Zika, but there are at least seven other diseases hiding in the mosquito population; Chikungunya, Dengue, Yellow Fever, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, LaCrosse Encephalitis, and Western Equine Encephalitis. It's not just mosquitoes and ticks, fleas are carrying infectious diseases as well. So what do we do? How can we combat all of these bugs and keep our dogs and ourselves healthy this season? We fight back, that’s what we do. Let's look at a few organic and natural ways to fight a good fight against mosquitoes and ticks.
Felice J. Freyer, a writer for the Boston Globe calls the up and coming Spring-Summer season a "2017 tick apocalypse, “ and The Boston Patch lists Boston in the top 20 worse places exposed to the biggest populations of mosquitoes. So what do we do to defend ourselves, and our dogs against these deadly bugs? While there are a lot of good products on the market, it can be 100% safe for you and your dog to fight a good fight against mosquitoes and ticks without the use of standard bug control warfare; most of which contain toxic chemicals and poisons. Stay with natural and Organic companies. Luckily there are healthier options, some you might even find yourself using. Whatever plan of action you take just make informed decisions and do something to protect yourself and your dog.
Let's start with protection and prevention from an aerial attack. Armouring with essential oils and vinegar are two of the easiest ways to protect yourself and your dog from attacking bugs. Essential oils are quickly becoming a normal staple in a lot of homes and chance are you have a bottle that can be used as a repellant somewhere on hand. Never use synthetic oil; you get what you pay for. Fake essential oils are not organically structured to react like natural oils are. This is long and complicated to explain but a synthetic oil does not have the medicinal value that naturals oil have. It’s easy to make your homemade, non-toxic insect repellant, use an essential oil from the list below and add it to a spray bottle full of water or add it to the vinegar…mist your dog throughout the day. Smells better than bug spray and works just as well (unless you use Neem oil…very effective but kinda stinky).
Here is a list of essential oils that bugs don’t like:
• Tea Tree (I bet a majority of you have this handy)
• Lavender (you may possibly have this one handy too)
• Neem (very good oil for bugs but very displeasing smell to humans and dogs)
Apple Cider Vinegar internally and externally is a healthy combatant against bugs. Mix a 50-50 blend of apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and periodically spray down your dog. WebMD determines the mix for an internal bug repellant to be a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a quart of water. Using apple cider vinegar as a dietary supplement changes the bloods acidic levels , this is unappealing to bugs and they don’t bit.
This is one of my favorite defensive plays; Food grade Diatomaceous Earth. You beach Bums should know what that is? Diatomaceous Earth is fossilized remains of sea creatures. You can purchase Diatomaceous Earth in a finely ground powder. Diatomaceous Earth has an extreme dehydrating effect. When the bugs come in contact with the powder it adheres to them and won't come off. The powder then dehydrates them and they die. It can, and is used, as a topical but remember it has a drying effect. You can, however, sprinkle some on dog beds. Diatomaceous Earth can create safe zones all around your house. It becomes a bug barrier. Use some fossilized sea creatures to fight a good fight against mosquitoes and ticks. One last thought about Diatomaceous Earth; it has the ability to kill internal parasites. There are medicinal values to Food grade Diatomaceous Earth when used internally. It must be food grade. Please never try anything internally before researching and talking to your vet first.
Essential oil blends do not last as long as products purchased over the counter. When fighting a good fight against mosquitoes and ticks apply essential oils throughout the day. A really cool way to make your natural remedy last longer is to create a bug repellent collar. Simply add a few drops of an essential oil listed above onto a bandana. Wrap it around Fido’s neck and every now and then drop a few more essential oils onto the bandana. Cedar and lemongrass smell amazing together and are relatively inexpensive. If you're not going to use an essential oil method, try using bug wipes; Espree’s line of flea and tick repellants use natural herbal oils in their blends. Just tie an Espree wipe in a knot around your dog's collar.
Remember to start any home remedy slowly and watch for any adverse effects. Although these are very safe ways to protect against bugs some pets may have a bad reaction to one of the oils or the vinegar. Know your dog, choose your defensive plan wisely and always start with a little and add more. If you have any qustions please reach out on one of our social media platforms or in the comment bubble in this blog.
Some trusted brands are Espree, Wondercide and Vets Best. (Wondercide has a Flea and Tick Spray that smells so amazing I use it on the entire family).
The war of The Killer Bugs may have begun but have no fear; you can keep your dog safe with all natural organic weapons of your choice. Fight a good fight against mosquitoes and ticks and enjoy your summer. If you have any other tips or tricks please share.