Many dog owners and animal lovers who wouldn’t hurt a fly, are happy to make an exception for fleas and ticks.
And while flea and tick medications are the most effective preventative strategies that a pet parent can employ during tick and flea season, some people are likely tempted to try home remedies and alternative methods for tick and flea removal.
Putting Garlic in Pet Food
Even though a lot of people think this a safe and effective way to prevent fleas, there’s no scientific evidence that garlic — whether it’s fresh from the bulb, powdered or in a supplement — can keep the parasites at bay. Even worse, garlic can be toxic to pets. Garlic contains substances that damage red blood cells in dogs in cats, potentially leading to life-threatening anemia if ingested in large quantities.
Dousing your dog in dish detergent might make his fur a little cleaner, and you may get rid of some of the fleas and ticks, but dogs’ skin have a different pH level than humans, and using dishwater detergent can actually be dry and irritating to their skin.
Even if the dish soap does help kill a few fleas, the tenacious parasites that are left behind are guaranteed to breed and repopulate your home and dog.
People forget that there are four stages to a flea. The egg, the larva, pupa and adult. You need a medication that controls the entire life cycle. Even if what you use kills the adult fleas, that isn’t control.
Burning a Tick off with Lit Match
Holding a lit match next to fur to remove a tiny parasite should set off alarm bells in your head. If anything, this tick-removal technique could set your poor pet on fire. You should also avoid freezing off a tick with an aerosol-based freezing gel, as you’re more likely to hurt your pet than help him.
Rubbing alcohol will kill fleas and ticks, but if you’re going to use alcohol, be careful about it. Generally, experts recommend dropping fleas or ticks into a glass or jar of rubbing alcohol.
Don’t pour alcohol on a tick that’s on your dog. The tick is attached to your dog, and the alcohol will make the tick spit out its toxin.
Instead, put on gloves—to protect yourself from possible tick toxins—and remove the nasty little parasite with tweezers. Grab the tick right where its mouthparts are attached to your dog’s skin and slowly pull straight back.
Dipping Pet in Motor Oil, Bleach, Vinegar or Turpentine
Bathing your dog or cat in motor oil, bleach or turpentine is dangerous way to attempt to get rid of fleas or ticks. Depending on the substance, it could cause serious health problems, chemical burns, even death. Vinegar, while it may seem like the safer bet, also has its problems. According to the ASPCA Poison Control Center, ingesting undiluted vinegar can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, mouth irritation and pain.
While it may be tempting to try and treat fleas and ticks on your own, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to find the best—and safest—option for you and your pets.
An honest attempt by some well meaning pet owners sometimes ends up causing some untoward side effects in their pets.