3 natural tick repellents for dogs, backed by science

The reported cases of Lyme disease are growing exponentially every year. Fortunately, there are a number of natural tick repellents you can use to protect your dogs.

While ticks have always been an unwelcome guest on family pets, health agencies today are warning the public that ticks can spread some serious diseases to their unsuspecting hosts. The risk of coming down with a tick-borne illness has substantially increased, and a single tick can transmit multiple diseases in just one bite. It is incredibly important to protect your dogs against these parasitic pests, and natural tick repellents provide a safe and effective option.

Safe and natural tick repellents to consider

There are a number of safe, effective and totally natural tick repellents for dogs that are backed by science. Three of these are turmeric oil, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and geranium oil. There are also quite a few tick preventative repellent recipes made from essential oils and other natural ingredients, however there are less studies demonstrating the efficacy of these blends.

1. Oil of lemon eucalyptus

The Australian native eucalyptus trees are valued for their natural production of eucalyptus which can be a deterrent to ticks. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is different than the concentration found and extracted from those trees – the oil is often refined further to intensify the expected result, and consumers will usually find this ingredient in over-the-counter bug repellent products. The CDC and EPA both recommend oil of lemon eucalyptus as a natural tick repellent.

Dog parents should be aware that pure oil of lemon eucalyptus lasts approximately two hours before reapplication is needed. This is a much shorter time period than chemical repellents like DEET.

2. Turmeric oil

Many cooks likely recognize this pungent spice. While turmeric is tasty in certain foods, ticks tend to stay away when they encounter its musky and bitter scent.

Turmeric oil is typically extracted from the roots of the plant and mixed with another base oil like coconut oil. This spice has long been known to repel certain biting pests like fleas and ticks. It’s also good for skin, and can be lightly sprayed on a dog’s coat before taking a walk in potential tick infested places such as woodlands or high grassy areas.

The science behind turmeric oil as a dog-safe tick repellent is shown in several recent studies including one from the UK. That study indicated turmeric oil was comparable to chemical ingredients like DEET in keeping ticks from climbing and hanging onto a dog’s coat.

3. Geranium oil

Avid gardeners have probably already discovered geranium’s natural repellent effects. This plant’s distinctive woodsy fragrance is strong and a bit musky.

A recent study on the effects of geranium essential oils has shown that geranium oil appears to have a repellent action against the lone star tick nymphs considered hardest to repel by some experts.

Used properly, natural tick repellents can provide a suitable alternative to toxic chemical-laden options available on the market. It’s always a good idea to get any tick treatment vet approved before use to avoid potential adverse effects.


Kyle Holgate writes about all things dog on his website Woof Whiskers. He's most passionate around researching and analyzing dog food nutrition and how pet owners can better care for their pets. His articles have been featured on websites like Pet Food Industry and Business Insider. He owns two mixed breeds - a Golden Retriever/Australian Shepard mix named Kartoffel and a Husky mix named Pidgy. Kartoffel and Pidgy love helping Kyle with paws-on reviews of all the latest and greatest pet products for the site.