Flea and Tick Prevention

May 17, 2017

We, fur parents, know that protection from parasites is vital. And it's so easy to turn to spot-on flea and tick prevention (especially when vets are sponsored by these companies and recommend them to us)…but is it as innocuous as it looks? Both my previous dogs were on Frontline and Advantage, and yet they both had fleas while on the treatment! Do these treatments work? 


The last few months I have been searching for information on the different flea and tick treatments available on the market. The vet recommended that I wait til Anmitsu was 6-months old to put her on a prevention routine, but I have remained uncertain to whether or not to expose her to any of these chemicals. I know I won’t be able to guard her from all chemicals but, if I can take steps to reduce her chemical load over her life, you betcha I’m going to do it. (And I have also become more mindful of my own habits in order to reduce my toxic chemical exposure).  I learned that just because you can buy it, doesn't mean it's safe.

These are some of the ingredients in spot-on flea and tick treatments: imidacloprid, fipronil, permethrin, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen, all of which have caused serious health problems in animals in laboratories. Other forms of flea control (powders, collars, and sprays) are no less dangerous to our fur babies.

And there are several Youtube videos exposing the side-effects of flea and tick treatments on dogs! 



Some researchers are also concerned that pesticide exposures from flea treatments could have consequences for humans, especially small children. There’s mounting evidence that pesticides are harmful for kids at low levels and when pesticides are on our dogs...well, my pup come into contact with kids all the time.


Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a nonprofit investigative news organization, and the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, have both published reports about the safety of flea and tick treatments:


  • EPA’s Pesticide Division has found that the active ingredient (fipronil) in Frontline remains in a pet’s system with the potential for nervous system and thyroid toxicity.

  • In laboratory studies Imidacoprid has been found to increase cholesterol levels in dogs, cause thyroid lesions, create liver toxicity, and has the potential for damaging the liver, heart, lungs, spleen, adrenals, brain, and gonads. Advantage contains the active ingredient Imidacloprid. 

  • Permethrin has been implicated as a carcinogenic insecticide causing lung cancer and liver tumors in laboratory animals.  There is also a suspicion that it disrupts endocrine function. It can act as a neurotoxin, causing tremors as well as increased aggressive behavior and learning problems. Vectra (the one we purchased at the vet for $24), the newest product on the market, contains 36.08% Permethrins


So what are our options!? Safe alternatives are very much needed for flea and tick control.  


The first step in flea prevention is maintaining our fur baby’s health. Skin condition is an indicator of an animal’s overall health and an important factor in flea control. The key to healthy skin is a healthy diet!So a fresh, whole, raw foods are vital because they provide digestive enzymes and vitamins. And coconut oil, which contains caprylic acid, is excellent for combating yeast infections on the skin and in the ears. Also include digestive enzymes and probiotics for good digestive health, which can affect the skin. Please read our VERY FIRST BLOG POST! Check food labels carefully. Pet foods sold in supermarkets are often composed of ground-up parts of animals deemed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be unfit for human consumption. Why? They are the 4Ds - diseased, dying, disabled, and dead. By feeding our pets a high-quality, natural diet, free of additives and preservatives, we improve their health and dramatically increase their protection from fleas. A healthy animal does not taste or smell as good to fleas.



The second step is to use a non-toxic method. Anmitsu gets a bath every 7-10 days. After her bath I take a rubber grooming brush and a flea comb, and I spray her body with a concoction I made containing purified water, cedarwood and lemongrass. I keep this bottle by the door so I am reminded to spray her body every few days before we go out  (avoid your pup's face). I, then, brush it into her skin (brushing the opposite direction of her hair growth).


There are several different recipes that you can try with these two ingredients. I suggest you Google and do your own research to see what fits your pup's needs. Summer is approaching and it’s best we prep now! Another great thing about this spray...you can spray it on your carpet/rug OR use it on yourself when you go hiking! And I LOVE the scent!!  


They have the same ingredients as the spray I make at home, BUT easier to keep in the car or take on trips! 



I love researching for other alternatives! And we should try them first before exposing our fur babies to toxic chemicals. There are better options out there, and I hope we find them.   




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