InsectsLivestock

Organic Tick Repellant

Photos: Ingrid Pullen

Late winter and early summer in the warm zones of Australia are deadly times of year for smaller farm animals, especially newborns, because of the deadly paralysis tick. Young cows up to 4 months, sheep, goats, geese, cats and dogs can all die from the powerful neurotoxin of the paralysis tick. People can also suffer and be seriously effected if the ticks are not removed within a few hours.

There is no answer for complete protection, but we have found an organic method of repelling the ticks — an injection of ‘oil of turpentine‘ just under the skin — and we have been told from the regional farm vet that it is works by confusing ticks’ sense of smell. We know it works as we have not lost an animal to ticks since we started using it. We inject 5 ml for a new born calf after 72 hours, usually just under the skin of the neck. 3ml for a baby goat or sheep.

Note: ‘oil of turpentine’ (made from trees, usually pine) should not be confused with mineral turpentine, usually known as ‘white spirit‘, which is a petroleum-derived liquid that can be dangerous, and should not be used!

The animals are still considered organic and do not suffer from the treatment as long as the needle goes under the skin, between the flesh and the skin, so it is best to find an area of loose skin that can be lifted up so the needle can be carefully slipped under. It you inadvertently go into the flesh, the animal may develop an inflamed patch, but will recover.

This simple trick has saved many young lives.

Geoff Lawton

Geoff Lawton is a world renowned Permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. He first took his Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course in 1983 with Bill Mollison the founder of Permaculture. Geoff has undertaken thousands of jobs teaching, consulting, designing, administering and implementing, in 6 continents and close to 50 countries around the world. Clients have included private individuals, groups, communities, governments, aid organizations, non-government organisations and multinational companies under the not-for-profit organisation. In 1996 Geoff was accredited with the Permaculture Community Services Award by the Permaculture movement for services in Australia and around the world. Geoff's official website is GeoffLawtonOnline.com. Geoff's Facebook profile can be found here.

79 Comments

    1. We mainly use it on the new born, calves, sheep and goats just once and it seems to last until they are big enough to not be killed by ticks. I think if it was repeated every year just before the worst tick time of the year which would be late winter for us, it would work.

      1. Hi Geoff,
        I have injected our lambs and they’re all good. I gave some to my kelpie yesterday and he is not a happy camper. He couldn’t get comfortable last night and has a bit of the shakes in his back in now. He’s been squatting to pee all morning but 5mins ago cocked his leg. He was playing soccer earlier and did run around when we moved the sheep this morning, now he doesn’t even want to go for a walk. He’s lying under my van feeling sorry for himself. His nose is wet but he is just feeling miserable.
        my question is, has any body else done their dog and what reactions have their been? I noticed there was some conversations about it but no follow ups.. I’m hoping he will be back to himself tomorrow but any tips would be appreciated

        1. Hi Wendy

          Firstly I am so sorry hear of you problems and I fully understand being a dog owner for all of my life, we have had a problem with a calf when we did not get the needle too deep and was not just under the skin and when into the flesh. The other thing I would cautious of is the dosage to weight of the animal and a kelpie would not be that heavy.

  1. Thanks Geoff
    Can this be used as an ongoing treatment for dogs (once a month??
    Where to buy – is it the same as Turpentine Oil??
    Cheers
    Steve

    1. We have not tried it on the dogs.
      It is “oil of turpentine” not mineral turpentine, it is a tree oil, and you can buy it from country hardware store and if they do not have it they can order it in for you.

      1. well just for the record, DON’T use it on your dog! My kelpie has just spent 3 days in hospital, we nearly lost him. The oil burnt him from the injection point down to his lymph node at the base of his neck, they had to cut him open and scrape all the flesh out all the way down that was festering.. He was a very sick boy for 5 days, hopefully he will make a full recovery, $2000 late a lesson has been learned. I have no idea if anyone else on this thread had any issues and didn’t post them but I couldn’t let this happen to someone else and their best mate. In saying this we had given it to our lambs 4 weeks earlier and they were fine so don’t quite know why it affected the dog the way it don’t but don’t do it..

        1. Thanks Wendy,
          That’s good advice, I also noticed someone had used it externally on their dogs and had a bad reaction.
          Just wondering if you used it on older sheep as we are having a tick problem and have had two ewes and one 2mth old lamb go down.

    2. Mineral turps is definitely not the same as oil turps or vegetable turps, you can digest vegetable turps, its what you polish those old wooden plates and bowls with that grand dad use to make in his workshop.
      In the 70’s we use to be served salad in those beautiful bowls, I would hate to see some one injecting there goat or poor old sheep with mineral turps this product is a petrochemical product.

    3. That’s exactly what my grandparents in Eastern Europe were doing. It must be 100% Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine. This has been used not only for animals but it is also an ancient “miracle cure” administered to humans as 1 teaspoon (!!!! no more!!!) on 3 sugar cubes (1cm x 1cm) twice a week orally. I have the full complete protocol. My grandmother was a doctor and in her times this was including in the medical curriculum but later they stopped teaching it to younger doctors. The best quality 100% Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine ORGANIC is sold in USA from the Diamond Forest Products but they don’t ship to Australia, I am getting it through their distributor in Canada. You must be absolutely certain to get the 100% Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine if administered orally to humans!!!

      1. Jana, could you please tell me where you purchased the 1005 pure gum spirits of turpentine from in Canada? Thank you Maree

      2. HI Jana Could you please let me know where you buy the 100% pure gum spirits of turpentine. I have been buying it from the UK and i can only order tiny bottles and it is so so expensive . i would love to find out more information thank you in advance Kirsti chapman 0427 959 360

    4. Hi Steve,
      Did you try it on your dog?
      I’ve just given mine some activated charcoal to try and help him a bit.
      I’m terrified for him actually!

  2. I once met an old guy, ex driller from W.A Australia who would swallow a tablespoon of turps once a month. As a result he said nothing ever bites him. I didn’t believe him, so he swallowed a spoon full in front of me.

    1. Yes yes, I posted above. Oral administration of turpentine was taught in medical school in Europe during 1920-1940s but then they have withdrawn it because of the big pharmaceutical companies not allowing people to be cured. The turpentine protocol if taken orally by humans must be 100% Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine (!!!!) and the administration is as follows: MAXIMUM dose is 1 teaspoon a day:
      Take 3 Sugar Cubes no larger than 1cm each side. If the sugar cubes are larger you must cut them. They must measure 1cm or less on each side. All other sugar cube sizes will be too big to use. If you use the sugar cube size larger than 1 centimeter then you’ll end up overdosing on the turpentine in other words… taking more than 1 teaspoon per day. Stack one sugar cube on top of the other. Take one tsp of turpentine and drip onto the top sugar cube. Keep dripping until the turpentine begins to enter the bottom cube. Take the top sugar cube place in your mouth, chew about three times and chase with water. The water is used to help you swallow the candida cleaner and move it from your mouth down your throat. Repeat with the second then the third cube.I am more than happy to share this protocol for FREE of course with everybody, I have e-book by Dr. Jennifer Daniels. You can find her on YouTube, she has given many interviews and this is her exact protocol.

        1. Yes, I know how many treatments but it is individual. I strongly recommend you to get the free e-book by Dr. Jennifer Daniels, you can download it from the Internet. Please follow her protocol EXACTLY! All the best!

    1. Maybe we mainly use it on the new born, calves, sheep and goats just once and it seems to last until they are big enough to not be killed by ticks.

        1. My horse had a very bad reaction and his recover looks dim. I gave 5ml under the skin with 100% pure gum turp. spirits….. Not good.

  3. Great to hear that there’s preventative. If only it could work for humans too! I thought that the worst a tick could do was inject its own venom but having got through a horrible staph infection from a tick bite, I know they can spread even more nastiness. Has it ever been trialled on other smaller animals?

  4. Turpentine is an organic solvent. Even though it is chemically different from synthetic solvents, it can still damage your health if ingested. So, I would think twice before drinking it.

    1. You are right that it must NEVER EVER been taken as a drink. The maximum dose is 1 teaspoon and only taken on 3 sugar cubes stack together. Please search Dr. Jennifer Daniels, she has given several interviews on the turpentine protocol (check YouTube).

  5. No other animal frightens me more than the paralysis tick (snakes and crocs are a normal part of my life). But on seeing these ticks my stomach flips and I am filled with dread. Great to know Geoff. Will definitely try it out. These guys are my one chemical control weakness. Had a friend inject her dog daily with vitamin c after paralysis and she lives. Vet said dog was too old and serum wouldn’t work so she gave it her best shot :)Had to keep dog hydrated anally.

    1. I have cured two dogs from tick paralysis using strong black coffee, unsweetened, no milk with several ground up antihistamine tablets mixed in.
      NOTE: this method ONLY works if your animal has never had a conventional ‘vet’ tick treatment and only if caught before paralysis gets too advanced (animal only just going in back legs)

  6. Great article and info – thanks for sharing! Same questions as above: how often to administer? What about dogs and chicken? What exactly is “oil of turpentine”? Thanks so much.

  7. Very interesting, to say at least. Here in Finland ticks are very common during the summer months, our poor sheep dog has had hundreds, some of them maybe carrying parasites like borrelia or TBE. I will research this more!

  8. Hi Geoff, just wondering. In qld with the drought, we amongst many others had to send inland cattle to the central coast for agistment. They were treated for tick fever. The ticks are having a field day, with only injectable dectomax giving some reprieve for a couple of weeks. Had to be used due to desparation. Apart from the obvious of moving the cattle, which is not an option at present, have you heard of using the 100% Gum Turpentine for both cows and yearlings. Being absent from the cattle also provides another hurdle but have family to assist. The ticks have been dreadful, they were thick all winter. There was no reprieve in the change of seasons. The cattle have been there since late February 2014. Any help would be truly appreciated.

    1. Hi Sarah yes I picked this trick up from an old country vet in our area after quizing him about and organic option for ticks and he told me of his older cattle farming brother using this he could not formally advise this as a vet (I like to be able get on side with real local farming people everywhere i work) but he put me onto his older brother inland from Casino but still East of the range in bad tick country. So his brother gave me the full run down and he swore by it working and the larger the animal the more you use, starting with 5ml for a new born after the first 72 hours after the colostrum.. I then checked with our regional government vet who is an organic supporter and loves our work and is always amazed at the diversity at Zaytuna Farm and I can talk to him in an unofficial capacity, so him confirmed the smell will totally confuse the ticks making it very hard to identify the animals as a target.

  9. Interesting assortment of comments. I haven’t heard of this treatment, but my late dad used to’ collect’ any info and old tips on ticks from wherever he could source it, because we lived in a very tick-prone area, for our household pets and even for us.
    Old bushies told him about giving their dogs saucers of strong tea on a daily basis, or of feeding them garlic, but the one I still use (sadly won’t apply to herds) was to check the animals daily, and on finding any tick, to immediately feed the tick to the animal. My cats and dogs are so conditioned to this, that they become anxious to be fed any tick found. When I have had animals affected by paralysis, and couldn’t find the tick, I have sourced ticks from cattle or other pets, and fed that to the poisoned animal. I have used it on a fowl that was been unable to walk, then massaged its legs and it recovered fully- only to be killed by a predatory fox!! Dogs seem more susceptible to tick poison than cats, for some reason.
    I guess this is some sort of homeopathic remedy.
    I guess the oil of turpentine would be like the garlic remedy, or the tannin, and permeate the flesh of the animal and be unpleasant A great thing to try, and many thanks for to Geoff for sharing.

    1. Hi Heather,
      I was researching farmers feeding their dogs ticks and came across your comments about it.
      Can you give me any more information about this and any other bush preventatives & treatments for Paralysis Ticks please?
      I use Advantix on our dog and keep the yard mowed etc but worry about him picking them up on his daily walks etc.
      Thanks
      Gaie

  10. I wonder if this would work on dogs by dabbing a bit on the back of their neck and tail once a week or something, rather than injecting under the skin (something I’m not sure I could do!). If it is just the smell that disorientates them, surely that would work?

    1. If they do not swim it might help.
      Something I want to trial is soaking their leather collars in it over night, then drip drying, once a week. Then I can maybe take the collar off if I can get to them before they swim.

      1. Geoff, that is great idea. Soaking their leather collars in the 100% Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine overnight. Let us know how did you go with it. I can provide for everybody the exact turpentine protocol which has been used for centuries in Europe.

        1. Hi Jana, I read this online looking for someway to get the ticks here to leave my dogs & myself alone, “Geoff, that is great idea. Soaking their leather collars in the 100% Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine overnight. Let us know how did you go with it. I can provide for everybody the exact turpentine protocol which has been used for centuries in Europe.

          I am hoping this is what you were talking about and that you can send me the info. We are going insane here with them and I am worried we are going to get sick and that they may be killing my dogs. I have given them Nexgaurd for the first time in my life as I felt i had no choice but would far prefer to find a safer alternative. Thank you so much! Angela at dailypiddles@hotmail.com

  11. Thanks a lot for tips and the comments. I live in Northern Argentina, in the Chaco province, and ticks are also a big issue here for animals and humans as well in this season. I was wondering if you inject the turpentine oil pure in the calves? Wonderful job Geoff!

  12. Would it be possible for someone to help with a brand/supplier for the 100% Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine for Queensland Australia. With google I have found Diggers 1l Pure GumTurpentine, not confident this is ok.

  13. Ok. I caved in and have ordered some from Canada to be safe. Just wondering if anyone has treated adult cattle (ie, have not had been treated from birth, etc). How much would you give older cows under the skin. Would 5mls still be effective.

  14. Hi, I just wondered if anyone has any suggestions for treating olders cows for the first time. How much would you inject under the skin?

    1. Extremely interesting….
      Sarah we would be interested in this answer also, especially to treat adult cattle, approx 400-500kg. Not only for ticks, but to preven,t biting insects (buffalo fly, mosquito and sandflies) spreading 3 day Sickness (Bovine ephemeral fever).
      Look forward to your thoughts Geoff.

  15. Our calves are about 3-4 weeks old. Would this method still work on them? Sadly when we got them they came with ticks.

  16. Hi Geoff,
    hi everyone,
    did anyone of you had the chance to try the recommended usage on dogs during your season yet? If yes, what were your experiences? Did you used it topically (like the usual chemical stuff) or did you injected it? Did you diluted the gum spirits of turpentine? If yes, how much and what did you use for dilution? I am asking, as we tried the pure gum spirits topically on our dogs. All of them (7!) got massive skin irritations right away, which meant, that we had to bath them all, to get rid of it immediately! I wouldn’t even consider to give it subcutaneously! High risk of necrotic reactions!I Hope someone has some more positive news on this topic?!
    Cheers Antje

    1. Hi Antje we just inject it under the skin of our young 2 day old calves and we have not lost a calve to ticks since. We inject our goats every 2 to 3 months continuously and have not lost a goat since, and the adult goats can be killed by our ticks.
      We have not treated any other animals.

  17. How frequently (& in what ml quantities) do sheep need to be injected with this oil of turpentine gum resin spirit?… Also, would just pouring it along their backs ( like an ordinary pour on dip) work instead?

  18. Here’s what my trusted local vet had to say when asked about this technique: “I would be VERY suprised if you didn’t have to bring them into the clinic for surgery to remove the damaged area…. ”

    They also inform me that there are two new products available: Nexgard & Bravecto

    1. Sorry, I’m confused by this reply,Greg. Are you saying NOT to pour it along the back of a sheep/ lamb?because that would cause damage requiring a vet’s treatment? …but injecting them is OK?…….. How about putting 3 ml once a week on their food? Would that have the desired effect?( I’m only asking, since it’s OK for humans to ingest this substance….. And I’m not keen on vaccinating my sheep if it can be avoided!)

  19. “Paralysis tick” – Yikes, and I thought Lyme disease was nasty.

    If it’s just the specific pine smell of real turpentine that’s repelling the ticks, then maybe rubbing mountain pine oil on the skin would do the same trick? At least that one is formally tried and tested for human use. (It’s normally used on uninjured skin to improve circulation and on the chest so the vapors are inhaled to help with a wet cough.)

    1. Some googling gives me the information that pine oil indeed contains an ingredient that repells at least some tick speies (and mosquitoes):
      https://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2008/080623.htm

      Also, apparently essential oils from citrus (specifically grapefruit) contain tick-repellent chemicals:
      https://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2011/110112.htm

      And here’s a short overview study on traditional plant-based insect repellants in general. This study focuses on mosquitoes, but there’s some interersting explanation about how it works and why essential oils can cause severe skin irritation.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3059459/

  20. Sorry, my vet was referring to injecting. For the record, I am not saying anything, I am passing on what my vet said.

  21. Hi Geoff
    I bought the pure gum spirits of turpentine from Diamond G Forest products in Georgia that I saw recommended. I gave a 4 month old Jersey steer 5cc under the skin high on the neck. The next day he had a lot of swelling in the brisket way below the shot site and also some swelling in the upper leg. There was a slight path of swelling up to the injection site.The swelling was quite hard and he was walking funny for a few days .A week later it was mostly back to normal. After 3 weeks he is also still picking up ticks. Any thoughts on what happened? I have 5 more cattle and a large herd of goats I would like to try it on if it works, but not sure what happened with him.
    Thanks for any insight

  22. Thanks for the references, Vivi; very interesting. Obviously an up & coming area of interest all round. The point made that using gelatin- Arabic GUM for micro encapsulation reduces evaporation of the repellent for up to 30 days sounds like we are on the right track with pine gum oil. It is just the odd stories on this chat site about the occassions on dogs & cattle when it causes adverse reactions that make me anxious about trying it on my sheep & lambs. Will have a think & report back when I’ve had a go, one way or another.

  23. Just an after thought: have those of you who have injected this under the skin of your cows/ sheep/ goats had any reactions to the injection similar or otherwise to those mentioned in the few cases above? I ask because I know we humans sometimes have reactions like swelling, reddening etc to vaccinations & just wondered whether this is to be expected as normal or not?

  24. I now have it on good authority that the pine gum will only work on the species of tick that infect sheep who live in the areas where these pine trees grow! Sensible enough, I suppose. Meanwhile, I’ve been looking at homeopathy for sheep: there are treatments for ticks (as well as fluke worm & tetanus). Anyone ever tried any of these on their animals?

  25. Just saw this thread, out here in the semiarid Mexican Plataeu, in a broad acre situation, with cattle, we use 4% elemental sulphur with salt, and it works wonders, as far as I can tell it has something to do with the tick’s metabolism, maybe the chitin ? There are some people that use a sulphur based cncentrate (boiled for sometime) and then sprayed diluted, I personally like the salt mixture a lot more, since we don´t have to handle the cattle, I always give it free choice together but separate from plain salt

  26. Interesting.

    What about legal implications? Stock Medicines Acts etc? Residues?

    Any well designed experimental trials done?

    This might be unpopular questions, but that they need to be addressed

    S

  27. Had somebody tried in calfs and mature bovines?. I had a very suceptible wagyu cows in lower and hot lands in Colombia.
    Any recomendation to try on it?.
    What dose shal I use?. Is there any latinian name for the TURPENTINE OIL?.
    Thanks in advance.

  28. Hi Geoff,
    We are goat farmers in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and we have suffered many kid losses due to paralysis ticks in the first 6 months of life. I have read your article and feed back from others and would ask that you verify the type of oil of turpentine to be administered as I believe you should be using the oil derived from pine trees and not the one derived from Eucalyptus trees (https://www.recochem.com.au/index.php/products/consumer_products/solvents/item/diggers_pure_gum_turpentine) as this would be toxic. This has also been mentioned in a previous post (https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2008/tick-and-mosquito-repellent-can-be-made-commercially-from-pine-oil/). I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this.

  29. Hi Geoff,

    Can I use oil turpentine for heartwater (Ehrlichiosis), Anaplasmosis (tick-bone gallsickness) and Babesiosis (Redwater)

    Thanks,

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