Ticks on Dogs: Be Wary, Groom Regularly, Prevent Naturally
First, a Story About a Good Friend of Mine, it may Seriously Help Someone you Know…
One day a friend of mine mentioned to me that they weren’t feeling quite right. They had an annoying tingling feeling in their toes. The next day it had spread to their hand. A few days later they were feeling achy, almost like they were getting the flu, then a couple of weeks later a very strange striped, rectangular rash and a metallic taste like sucking pennies that wouldn’t go away. Doctors were visited, various diagnoses were given. Nothing helped.
As time went on the symptoms appeared to vary and move around a lot. Then the numbness started. A numb-like feeling on the foot. On the hand. Across their jaw. This was an escalation and I think we all agree would make for a far more worrying symptom, bringing forth images of some serious underlying neurological condition. Quickly the person started experiencing a feeling as if their limbs were falling asleep (but never actually did), particularly at night time.
All this time my friend was visiting doctors trying to get a diagnosis and nothing was coming forth. Nobody could put it all together. Soon they found themselves sitting in front of a neurologist. Physical tests were done. Bloods were taken. MRIs were conducted. Little patches of white inflammation were found in the brain, and where these patches occurred could possibly indicate early signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Absolute shock. It couldn’t be. MS is a degenerative disease for the large part. It’s like little fires in your brain, fires that leave something akin to a singe (sclerosis being latin for scar) on your brain tissue. Over time these little scars build and disruption to normal neurological processes ensue. As scars build, so does the disruption.
Denial sets in. They were too young, surely. Next a lumbar puncture. “If we find this protein in your spinal fluid then…”.
The little protein was found.
With your results, you are passed to another neurologist, one specialising in treating MS. Without saying it, the young doctor prepares you. What you have could be something like a precursor to MS but might not be (no two cases are the same). But if it does develop then advances have been made over the last ten years and there are really good treatments available today.
The fact remains that MS is receiving a lot of money of late as it’s what’s called a lifetime disease meaning it appeals to drug companies. New discoveries being made in the field in ten years, who knows…
So sit back and wait but don’t let it bother you. Get on with your life.
But maybe it could be something else, my friend asked. What about the strange rash, the metallic taste, where I was when all this started? None of those fit in with an MS diagnosis.
Absolutely nothing was offered.
Surely there’s something we can do if it is MS, some alternative therapy to slow it’s progress? What environmental factors brought this on?! Change of lifestyle perhaps? What about diet? I heard getting off red meat is vital. Cod liver oil too. Numerous books have been written by very serious doctors who are getting some astounding results using nutrition alone. If you could just look at the results of these studies in MS patients…
“Well yes, you can try all those things…”.
Zero interest. You might as well have said you were going to do ten laps around an oak tree each day. This response is nothing new to those of us who chose to do something as ridiculous as feed fresh food to their dogs.
So you are left to your own devices. I imagine that was a terribly dark time for my friend.
But the story has a happy ending. By great fortune, they bumped into a few people with Lyme disease. A little research was done. The immensely supportive TickTalk Ireland was found. Lyme disease became an option. The symptoms did, after all, begin after a walk around a farm. A bit of hope.
While you don’t want Lyme disease, if you get a timely diagnosis it can be treated.
My friend then found themselves at one of Ireland’s top microbiologists. More bloods were taken and various pathogens were tested for. Results came back. A few pathogens in the blood were found, nothing too alarming but given the brain scan, the symptoms and now this bacteria, they have prescribed a long course of antibiotics.
But what about Lyme disease? Did they find that? No, the test was negative.
My friend was partly prepared for this information. The problem is the test available to Irish doctors has been documented to be quite ineffective.
Once again this doctor had no interest in this information. Once again my friend was on their own.
On advice from folk that went through a similar rigmarole, they ended up in Germany getting tested by the world leaders in Lyme disease and tick bourse parasites Armin Labs. The very finely tuned tests identified Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria and some co-infections. A.k.a. Lyme disease. Bingo.
Armed with an accurate diagnosis, antibiotics were tweaked and they are now on the road to recovery, well over a year after their ordeal started.
Other Lyme Disease Sufferers are not so Lucky…
A quick review online tells us that my friend was lucky. That their symptoms were mild. Many others are not so lucky, experiencing a high degree of pain in their joints, nerves and bones, from the very start. The treatment can be laborious and highly expensive due to the sheer amount of treatments and medications, the delay as you go down dead ends and the travel to better labs, as Sarah’s story below really demonstrates.
Lyme Disease in Ireland and the U.K., Best Advice for Sufferers…
According to Public Health England, it’s estimated that there are 2,000 to 3,000 new confirmed cases of Lyme disease in England and Wales each year. We have no figures for Ireland as doctors are not required to report cases.
However, it is universally accepted that this figure is likely a gross under-diagnosis of the true incidence, largely due to the tests used which simply are not accurate enough for this insidious little disease that hides away in your body. Furthermore, these tests rely on finding antibodies to the baddie, not the baddie itself, but it takes weeks for antibodies to be built up and chronic Lyme sufferers may return a false negative result due to the depleted immune system not being able to produce antibodies in sufficient numbers for the test to show positive.
The large bulls-eye-shaped rash that follows a day or two after infection is often focused on by doctors treating patients with possible Lyme disease but remember, this does not always occur (sometimes it can even be rectangular). 50% of patients with Lyme disease actually don’t even remember being bitten by a tick or having any rash at all.
I remember something my friend said to me, that another symptom of Lyme disease was the feeling that you were going slowly mad. This fact can be actually encouraged by medical practitioners. My friends neurologist said at one point:
with cases like yours, 1/3 have MS, 1/3 are idiopathic (they don’t know what it is) and 1/3 is in the patients head…
So yes, it’s complicated. And our doctors are not prepared.
The best advice for Lyme Disease is that if you suffer any of the above symptoms, a mysterious sickness that you lack a diagnosis for, ME type symptoms, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, anything undiagnosed to be honest, then it’s strongly recommended you go speak to your GP regarding a proper Lyme disease investigation via the German lab Armin. It will cost you €300 and can be done from your local clinic.
For more information on Lyme disease please visit TickTalk Ireland’s website.
How To Avoid Tick Bites on Yourself…
Ticks don’t jump or fly, they wait on grass stems for people or animals to brush by, then they hop on. They’re essentially little spiders and their aim is to drink blood. That would be fine if they didn’t potentially house a few pathogens around their mouth-parts, transmitting baddies much like a mosquito.
The advice is always to cover your arms and legs when out walking in long grass. Wear long-sleeved tops and trousers. And always dust yourself off before getting into your car.
They can be found in woods, urban parks, heathland and fields. They can also be found in gardens. Carriers include deer, badgers, any warm-blooded animals, and yes, dogs.
Can My Dog Get Lyme Disease?
Yes they can. Only 5-10% of dogs will show symptoms of the disease. The most common symptom is lameness due to inflammation in the joints. There may also be a lack of appetite and depression leading to eventual organ damage and nervous dysfunction. If you suspect a case in your dog, always, always get them to a vet. Don’t hang around reading another single thing on the internet. If you need more info on Lyme Disease in Dogs then check out Petmd as it’s outside my remit to talk much further here.
How to Remove a Tick on Your Dog
Ticks are hard to spot, initially, but they usually look something like the below. You’ll find them anywhere but the warmer and the thinner the skin, the better, so ears and armpits are favourite spots.
If you see a tick, remove it. You can do it. Check out the video below for the how-to. Two important tips given in the first video below is, should you remove a tick, keep it in a covered jar (ideally with a bit of alcohol in it, yes vodka is fine). Then, should suspicious symptoms pop up in your pet (or you), you can easily have the tick examined to see if it was a carrier of any baddies. Secondly, once the tick is removed, disinfect the area with whatever skin safe disinfectant, e.g. 50/50 Apple Cider Vinegar and water (add salt for extra power), lemon juice, Colloidal Silver, iodine, or any suitable medical swab or antiseptic cream, etc.
The best tool for removing them is a tick-remover tool. As the tick is holding itself in by a barbed tooth, you must slowly rotate the tick to remove it (keeping it’s mouth-parts intact and stuck to the body, you don’t want to leave these in there as they carry baddies). We stock them in the shop but for 2019 we’re giving one out free with every order form our shop. We hate ticks that much. This video below will show you how to use them.
How To Prevent Ticks Getting on Your Dog
It’s nearly impossible unless you wrap them in an all-in-one body suit, which isn’t happening.
There are natural homemade and over-the-counter remedies that will work to stop these guys latching on. If you want to buy something then consider Billy-No-Mates. You feed it to the dog or cat and over time it should offer them some protection. Check out those reviews on Amazon, a lot of positive feedback.
Or you could make it yourself. Dogs Naturally formulated the following mixture. They have a whole team of vets and herbalists working on their stuff now. The below remedies are taken from that article verbatim. You can order all the ingredients online from Amazon.
Best Natural Tick Preventing Remedies for Dogs
Goodbye Ticks Essential Oil Blend
- ½ oz base oil (raw organic coconut or almond oil)
- 2 drops geranium essential oil
- 2 drops rosewood essential oil
- 3 drops lavender essential oil
- 2 drops myrrh essential oil
- 2 drops opoponax essential oil
- 1 drop bayleaf essential oil
Blend all oils and store, ideally in a dark glass dropper bottle (find here on Amazon). Apply two to four drops topically to the neck, chest, legs and base of tail. You can also add the drops to a bandana or cotton collar …and you can pop a few drops on your own clothing while you’re at it.