If you are a dog or cat lover you know that protecting your animals from fleas and ticks is high on the list for responsible pet care. In the northeast and other parts of the country ticks can run rampant, so keeping them off pets is essential.
In August our chocolate lab, Mico, will be 12 years old. That’s 84 in dog years. She’s no spring chicken, but she can still swim for hours and run a few laps with the young pups in the neighborhood. During the winter months there’s no need to use flea or tick prevention-the ticks and fleas are hibernating. But now that spring has sprung they are back in action and prevention is key to keep them away from your pets and out of your home.
Toxic chemicals in conventional flea and tick control products
There are many different brands of conventional flea and tick control products on the market. Most contain toxic chemicals that can poison pets and harm people. Some of the chemicals are linked to cancer, allergies and asthma and are suspected endocrine disruptors. Pregnant women and small children are especially at risk.
For all almost 12 years of her life we have doused poor Mico in K-9 Advantix or Frontline (depending upon the vets recommendation). The Natural Defense Resource Council (NRDC) put together a handy list of flea and tick products, listing which chemicals are in each and assessing the chemicals’ toxicity. Take a look at Greenpaws Flea and Tick Product Guide to see if the product you’re using is considered toxic. K-9 Advantix and Frontline both fell between the “use sparingly” and “avoid use” categories. Both are pretty toxic and don’t belong on Mico.
The bottom line: Don’t use spot treatments such as K-9 Avantix and Frontline which tend to be very concentrated and, according to new studies, may pose a hazard to pets and humans.
Natural solutions for flea and tick prevention
Regular combing with a flea comb, bathing and vacuuming can reduce and control fleas.
Keep your pets out of areas where ticks are prevalent –long grass and trees. This is a tough one for us since we are surrounded by woods and we love to walk Mico off road.
There are many natural options to repel ticks. Here are a few to try:
- Brewers yeast– Brewer’s yeast works by making the dog’s blood too acidic for bugs’ taste.
- Apple cider vinegar– Add no more than 2 tbsp. into a large bowl of water. Or make a spray of 50% apple cider vinegar and 50% water and spray onto your dog’s coat. Make sure you don’t spray in his/her eyes.
- Citrus rub– Cut a lemon into quarters. Put it into a jar and cover with boiling water. Let it steep overnight and put the solution into a spray bottle. Spray on your pet and rub in.
- Garlic-I’ve ready conflicting studies on the safety of garlic for dogs and cats. It seems clear that when large quantities of garlic are consumed by dogs it could lead to anemia and/or death. I’m going to stay away from garlic for the time being.
- There are also many all natural products on the market. When purchasing be careful to read through the ingredient list. Many of the “natural” products I came across did contain toxic chemicals. One product that looks promising is Ticked Off! ,which contains southern red cedar oil -another chemical-free, safe way to control fleas, ticks and other bugs.
When we buy flea and tick control products we make an assumption that they’re safe. However, the EPA isn’t like the FDA and they don’t require pet products to undergo field trials prior to approval. We need to let the EPA know that we do care what goes onto our pets and these toxic products shouldn’t be on the market.
Do you have any other natural remedies to share for flea and tick prevention?
Please consult with your veterinarian before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested in this article. Only your Veterinarian can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your pet’s unique needs or diagnose your pet’s particular medical history.