These days, there are a wide array of products designed to prevent and kill fleas and ticks, the newest of which includes spot-on and oral treatments. And while many are convenient and seemingly effective, they do not come without risks. In fact, you could be doing more harm than good by using some of these products.
First of all, it’s important to know that these products are essentially pesticides which are put on your pet’s skin to kill fleas and ticks.
In one year alone (2008), the EPA received 44,000 reports of adverse reactions from spot-on treatments. While many of these incidents involved skin irritation, others reported seizures, GI tract issues, or nervous system problems. During that same year, 600 deaths were associated with these products.
It became apparent that spot-on products containing cyphenothrin and permethrin were especially problematic for small dog breeds and younger dogs. Many adverse reactions in cats were reportedly the result of cats being treated with products meant for dogs (which often produced serious reactions and/or death) or from exposure to a treated dog.
Flea and Tick Collars
These products have been around for some time but can pose health problems to both pets and people. The chemicals released from the collars can cause adverse reactions in dogs and cats, ranging from mild skin irritation to death.
Another problem with collars (as well as spot-on treatments) is that the chemicals often come in contact with people, too—especially kids. The long-term effects of low-level toxicity from products like these is currently unknown, but some experts believe they may be linked with behavioral problems, cognitive delay, and motor development in young children.
In recent years, oral products have become a popular choice in treating fleas and ticks because of their convenience. Nexgard, Bravecto, and Simparica are the newest ones on the market, and while they seem to do the job, all three are pesticides which are designed to attack the nervous system of fleas and ticks to kill them. So it’s probably not surprising that they can make our pets ill, as well.
Since these three products have only been around for a few years, there isn’t much information on their adverse effects; however, in January-March of 2016, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea were reported as the most common side effects, followed by seizures (22 for both Nexgard and Bravecto; Simparica is too new). Nine deaths were attributed to each drug during the same time period.
Why risk using toxic spot-on treatments, collars, or oral products when there are much safer alternatives?
Essential oils such as peppermint, lemon, and cedarwood can be great pest deterrents for dogs, however, essential oils are NEVER safe to use with cats. Fresh garlic added into the diet can also help deter pests, but the most important thing you can do is feed a balanced, species-appropriate diet. Healthy animals are far less attractive to parasites—both internal and external.
Bathing and brushing your pet regularly is also a good idea, as is performing frequent, full-body inspections for parasites.
At The Holistic Horse, we’re proud to offer several products which can naturally ward off fleas and ticks:
You can click on the links to learn more about each product.