Tis the season for ticks and fleas! While there are many chemical-based repellents available at your local pet store or vet, there are also natural solutions you can try at home. Here’s a guide:

Homemade Repellant: There are many homemade recipes for tick and flea repellants that call for essential oils. In fact, it’s the scent from these specific essential oils that help repel ticks and fleas. While these essential oil recipes are not recommended for cats, due to their sensitive skin, they work wonders on dogs, not only as a repellant, but also as a natural deodorizer. Here are two recipes you can try at home.

Recipe #1: Add 4 drops of clary sage, 1 drop of citronella, 7 drops of peppermint, and 3 drops of lemon essential oil to 2 ½ tablespoons of sweet almond oil into a bottle with a dropper. Using the dropper, add 2-4 drops of the homemade repellent to the neck, chest, legs and base of your dog’s tail prior to going out. You can also add a few drops to a bandana or their cotton collar.

Recipe #2: Add 5 drops each of tea tree, citronella, rosemary, peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus oil to one cup of water, and pour into a spray bottle; shake gently. Lightly spray your dog, avoiding their face, prior to going out. Make sure not to saturate your dog’s fur. This recipe can also be sprayed on your clothing as well.

Hands-on Removal: When you come home from walking you dog, make sure to run your hands through their coat, moving front to back, paying special attention to the ears, belly and along their legs. This is especially important to do if you have just been on a walk in long grass, or in an area where flea and ticks are common. If you happen upon something that feels like a skin-tag, make sure to investigate it further, as this may be a tick.

To remove the tick, put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect yourself. Using a pair of pointy tweezers and steady pressure, pull the tick from your dog’s skin in a straight motion. Make sure to get as close to the dog’s skin as possible, without pinching them. Do not twist or yank the tick, as this could permit you from removing the whole insect. Make sure to dispose of the tick properly by flushing it down the toilet and disinfect the site using an antiseptic spray. Make sure to check your toilet bowl to ensure that the tick has been flushed. If you do not feel confident removing the tick on your own, take your dog to the vet immediately.

To check for fleas, comb your dog thoroughly with a fine-toothed flea comb. If you find fleas, dip the comb, with the fleas attached, into a bowl of rubbing alcohol. This will help you dispose of the fleas properly. It is best to comb your dog outside, to ensure that the fleas do not get transferred onto other items (or pets) in your home. If you do find fleas, and you have other pets, make sure to check them thoroughly for fleas as well.

At Home: Keep fleas and ticks from hanging around your yard by keeping grass mowed and shrubs trimmed. Ticks and fleas like to live in places where they can hide effectively. When it comes to the inside of your home, vacuum rugs, furniture, and floors frequently, and launder your pet’s bedding weekly. Flea eggs can be picked up by the vacuum; however, they still have the ability to hatch, so be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag into the garbage outside.