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Having a pet is a wonderful experience that brings much joy – but also comes with responsibilities and problems, like an increase in pests around the home. Here’s how to protect your house and animal from ticks without using dangerous chemicals.

1. Diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural substance comprised of tiny fossilised remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is sold in light, soft, sedimentary rocks that crumble into a fine, off-white powder that is abrasive to the touch, similar to the feel of pumice powder. Diatomaceous earth, or diatomite, works by absorbing lipids in an insect’s waxy exoskeleton, dehydrating it. The razor-sharp edges of the minute particles cut into the insect, killing it.

D.E. is extremely effective against insects and gastropods and is safe for humans and pets. Sprinkle it around your home’s entry points and lightly dust your pet’s bedding. If you have any particular problem areas like cockroaches in the kitchen, treating them with D.E. will soon fix it.

2. Herbal sprays
It’s easy to make your own herbal tick spray. Simply take half a cup of dried or fresh rosemary, place it in a dish and cover with a pint of boiling water. Steep this for 20 minutes and remove the rosemary, keeping the liquid. Cool the liquid and place into a spray bottle. Spray it all over your pet, concentrating on the tail base and around the ears, and allow the fur to air dry – don’t use a towel as this will rub off the solution.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar works by raising the acidity of your pet’s blood, making it unappealing for ticks. This is best ingested; simply add a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to your pet’s drinking bowl. For those animals who don’t like the taste, you can also make apple cider vinegar into a spray – mix equal parts water and vinegar and apply as you would any other herbal spray.

4. Essential oils
Essential oils are particularly effective against ticks and can be used on a wide variety of animals. Tick repellents include geranium, juniper, grapefruit and oregano oils. Certain citrus-based oils can be toxic to cats, so you’re best to use neem oil which is effective against ticks and fleas.

Wash your pet and comb its coat through with a fine-toothed comb. Apply a few drops of the oil on the animal’s neck and near the tail base, then massage in. Make sure you reapply each time you wash your pet.

5. Garlic
Garlic is given as a daily dietary supplement, added to food. It is excreted through the skin and the smell is unappealing to both ticks and fleas. A word of caution, though – garlic also contains sulfoxides and disulfides which can cause anaemia in dogs, so use it sparingly and watch out for any signs that your pet is unwell.

Protecting your pet from ticks doesn’t have to involve chemicals. A combination of all these tick prevention techniques is your best defence against the nasty little creature!

Kate Lee is a freelance writer who specialises in environmentally-friendly solutions for household problems. She also writes for various pest control companies including Affordable Pest Control Maryland.