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Home Remedies for Ticks on Dogs

[I also came across a lot of home remedies on fleas. You can see the list here.]

In the last three years with the dogs I’ve noticed that every time there is a peak in heat there is a sudden spurt in ticks. When they live indoors this isn’t a factor to worry about as they aren’t exposed to the ticks much. They don’t pick them up as the ticks aren’t in their environment. My dogs don’t walk on the roads much, they get most of their exercise on the terrace as we have a large pack of strays outside. But they do pick them up when walked outside as we have a lot of empty grass filled plots around our apartment and that’s where the blaady ticks hangout.

The other place they pick them up is at the boarding where they live outdoors with all the other dogs. In the first week of January this year there was mild heat wave in Bangalore and as always there was the spike in ticks. Only this time it wasn’t the spidery type but the small dot type that is painful to spot and hell to get rid off. Usually they get bathed and treated before they leave the boarding but this time, we couldn’t do the usual and I had a fight on my hands.

The most common ticks found in urban India is the genus Rhipicephalus sanguineus also called brown dog tick followed by the more rural Haemaphysalis. Ticks are very difficult to identify and differentiate with the naked eye. The best method is to see their mandibles (mouths) under a microscope. I did a lot of reading to try and identify the tick we had found but it seems almost impossible with out expert help. So let me just describe them. There are two types of ticks I’ve seen until now. One is a spider looking kind with the legs kindof spread away from the body and then this one which looks like a small mustard seed with the legs almost invisible under it.

This was the first time I had seen these small guys, I usually come across the spider kind and the fipronil spray works just fine to get rid of them. Also I’ve never seen them in large numbers on the dogs. But these small guys are like dots in their larva stage (I guess) and almost impossible to see. Then when they start falling they are just a bit bigger than a mustard seed and still difficult to spot, especially on a dark coat dogs. I’ve saved a few specimens just in case it’s need for reference ever again.

This tick issue happening about the same time as the really bad migraines was a real uphill fight. One sure-shot method to get rid of ticks is neem oil but its a messy business and takes a fair bit of time. And with three dogs its a lot of time, so I was looking for other solutions. Here’s what I did with the dogs and at home and it has helped so far. Its been three weeks and no sign of ticks yet but I guess I’ll have to wait a couple of cycles before I’ll know for sure.

We sprayed them down with Fipronil 0.25% spray as soon as we got home. I then combed them down with a tick/flea comb and checked ears and paws carefully. Senti my 3 year old wire-dach had loads of them on his ears. I then started combing and checking twice a day for the next week, once in the morning and once in the evening, removing as many ticks as I could. We have some lavender beeswax at home and since lavender repels ticks, I rubbed the dogs down with it after combing for two days. The house also got swept twice a day with special attention to corners and cupboards. Garbage was thrown out immediately after cleaning to get rid of any ticks in the dust.

Three days later I was still seeing a fair number of ticks, so we mixed equal proportions of neem oil and coconut oil and soaked the dogs coats with it. Neem oil is quite thick so we thinned it down to ease in application. We did this on the terrace to avoid getting the house all messy and the ticks dropping inside the house. After about 15-30 minutes we took each dog separately and gave them a bath with a mix of mild olive shampoo, ketochlor and savlon lathered well. Usually neem oil is a pain to wash off but I think the mixing helped us get it off their coats easily. Some traces of oil will remain and since the oils are good for the dogs coats, we left it be. In combing it will spread out in the coat and will help in keeping the ticks off. Only after the bath were they allowed to roam the house again.

I also vacuumed the entire house making sure to go into every nook and cranny, doing one room at a time thoroughly. We have tile edging along our walls so I made sure to vacuum the edges all along the house floors too. Ticks love corners so those have to be done carefully to get them out. I then emptied the dust bag immediately, away from the house and sprayed some fipronil spray on it before putting the bag back in.

Two days later I saw a big tick again so we sprayed the dogs well with Fipronil 0.25% spray. Haven’t seen any ticks since then in a week. They are due for a another spraying down in a couple of days to match the two week tick cycle.

I have been very careful about the house too. The bed in the hall got sunned and kept away, we have only bean bags in the hall where the dogs are now. Makes it easier to clean and spot ticks. My maid has clear instructions to clean diligently but to make sure I do some extra sweeping myself. I vacuum once a week. Initially I did a mop of 2 capfuls of synthetic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of crystal salt and a capful of savlon in 3/4 bucket of water regularly. I alternated this with the regular everyday mop I was doing from before. Over time I am now doing a vinegar, salt and savlon mop only once in 5 days. The vinegar and salt is supposed to kill ticks. In the initial days I did find a number of dead ticks on the floor.

All seems good as of now but I’m being vigilant. I’ve seen infestations before and I definitely don’t want one on my dogs or in my house. I’ll keep you posted on how things go.

Here are a few tips I came across on the internet while searching for home remedies. I haven’t tried any of them so am just listing it here for future reference. I can’t vouch of any of them as of now.

  1. Mix approximately 2 tablespoons of neem oil and 4 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in 500ml water. Shake well and long to emulsify the oil. Spray dogs with the mix to deter/kill ticks and fleas. You can also spray the walls, carpets and curtains with the mixture so there is no place for ticks/fleas to hide. There may be a strong smell of neem in the room after use but airing out the room should sort that out.
  2. Use a cedar oil spray. Spray once a day if you go out into tick areas regularly. Spray them directly or on palm to rub around the face and tummy area. They should pick up less ticks.
  3. Mix 10 parts witch hazel and 1 part lemon eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle. Spray your pet and you down.It is a deterrant to ticks.
  4. Mix 10 drops of rose geranium oil, 15 drops tea tree essential oil, 15 drops lavender essential oil, 10 drops cedarwood essential oil, 10 drops lemon eucalyptus oil and 4 oz. Distilled or filtered water” in a spray bottle and spray the dogs regualrly to avoid ticks.
  5. A mix of 1 cup Avon Skin-So-Soft, 1 cup Water, 1 tablespoon Lemon Eucalyptus oil and 2-3 tablespoons Apple cider vinegar sprayed on dogs repelling ticks. It lasts only a couple hours though so you have to keep spraying.
  6. You can dip(or sponge) your dog in a Permethrin-10 mixture or a product containing Permethrin. This is found on Amazon for about $8.00. One application will last about 3-4 weeks. Will keep ticks off the animal.
  7. For horses and cattle mix 2 oz 10% Permethrin Concentrate ( available at or any tack store), 1 oz Citronella Oil ( cheap on ebay but can be found at any natural/organic store), 4 oz Apple Cider Vinegar (any grocery store), a few drops of rosemary oil and fill a 1 Quart sprayer the rest of the way up with water along with the above. Be sure to always shake sprayer before applying as this activates the Permethrin.

Do you have any remedies for ticks? Ways and tricks to keep them out of the house and off dogs? Please do let me know in the comments.

I also came across a lot of home remedies on fleas. You can see the list here.

Photo Credit: The Outdoor Type

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