Preventing & Repelling Ticks on Dogs Naturally: 7 Top Methods

Don't resort to garlic or vinegar for your dog; there are superior natural options out there.

By Maryruth Belsey-Priebe

Fact checked by Sander Tamm

Natural Tick Prevention for Dogs
Natural Flea Treatment for Dogs / Sander Tamm / Ecolife

Every dog owner who enjoys nature walks knows the annoyance: ticks. These pesky parasites can turn a fun outdoor excursion into a concern for our pets’ health, and the chemicals used in tick repellents can be just as scary as the bloodsuckers themselves.

In a report by the NRDC, flea and tick collars were found to contain a multitude of dangerous chemicals which can harm the dog’s nervous system or even lead to cancer. Surprisingly, dogs were not the only ones at risk. The risk for children exposed to dogs with flea and tick collars was found to be up to 1,000 times above what the EPA considers safe.

Some of the chemicals of concern in tick products are:

  • Carbamates (carbaryl, porpoxur, fenoxycarb)
  • Organophosphates (chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, phosmet, naled, tetrachlorvinphos, diazinon, and malathion)
  • Permethrin (pyrethroid or pyrethrum)

Considering this, it’s vital to seek safer alternatives. Thankfully, there are ways to control parasites without using any of these harmful chemicals. Beware, though, that not all home remedies advertised online are dog-safe.

Here are all-natural ways to prevent and repel ticks on dogs:

  1. Regular inspections
  2. Carpet cleaning with borax
  3. Tick scoop
  4. Flea and tick combs
  5. Herbal supplements
  6. Maintaining healthy skin
  7. Diatomaceous earth

Regular inspections

No, we’re not talking about vehicle inspections, but rather your pet’s skin and fur. Inspect it regularly for ticks, especially after periods of time outdoors or on hiking or camping trips. Spotting them early is important if you want to get rid of them quickly. This may sound obvious, but it’s one of the most effective ways to control a tick outbreak.

Carpet cleaning with borax

Many insects lay their eggs in carpeting, and brown ticks, commonly found on dogs, are known to be able to survive in carpets. To kill the larva, sprinkle borax powder over your carpet and then vacuum it up. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag by burning it or throwing it in the trash away from your home. Borax, however, is ineffective against eggs and pupae, so it’s not exactly a one-and-done solution.

Tick scoop

This specialized tool looks like a kitchen measuring spoon and works by utilizing a V-shaped notch which will aid in scooping the ticks off of your pet’s skin. Confirm that you have the head and mouth, and then drown the little insects once removed. Treat the skin on your pet with tea tree oil to disinfect the bite area.

Flea and tick combs

These combs work well on ticks as well as fleas, but aren’t recommended for long-haired dogs. Use a container of hot soapy water and use it to rinse the comb after each stroke – examine the water to see if you detect ticks. Regular combing not only helps in removing ticks but also detection, reducing the risk of infestations.

Herbal supplements

Natural remedies for ticks can include using herbal supplements either to treat your pet’s skin or added to your pet’s food. Two options include milk thistle and crotalus. Using herbs like Echinacea, astragalus, and eleuthero as immune helpers can also be effective since a healthy immune system will be much better at fending off pests.

However, make sure to talk to your veterinarian for specific advice before giving anything ingestible on your dog. Many common natural tick remedies like garlic and vinegar can be harmful to dogs when ingested.

Maintaining healthy skin

A dog with healthy skin is much less vulnerable to ticks. Be sure to feed your dog high-quality pet food that will nourish their skin. An improved diet will often help to prevent fleas from getting a foothold. 

Adding a zinc supplement to their diet will also improve skin – usually around 20 mg daily for larger dogs for one month, but consult your veterinarian for specific dosage recommendations. Feeding your pet olive oil with their regular food can also help to improve your pets skin health.

Diatomaceous earth

A naturally occurring powder, diatomaceous earth acts as a mechanical pesticide and is meant to be used in outdoor places where ticks thrive. Never use it on your dog.

Diatomaceous earth dehydrates and kills ticks and other pests so sprinkle this liberally over grassy areas in your yard (wear a respirator while doing so). Doing so will help prevent the spread of ticks naturally, but make sure to keep the powder away form your dog as it can cause lung damage when inhaled.