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The Dangers of Flea and Tick Control Products and Our Pets

If you are the human in the life of a beloved dog or cat, then you are understandably concerned about keeping them flea and tick free, not only for their comfort, but to avoid the diseases that these pests can bring along with them.

While the standard flea and tick control products are very effective, we also need to consider what the cost is to the health of our animals and the environment in general. I didn't realize just how toxic the ingredients in these products are until one of my dogs got violently ill from her monthly spot on treatment. Thankfully, she bounced back after a week or so, but this was a serious wake up call for me.

This incident spurred me on to do a lot of research about what the active and inactive ingredients are in pest control products. I was horrified to find that many are nothing more than diluted versions of the same pesticides that are often sprayed on yards or around the house.

I was shocked to discover that most of the standard topical and oral pest control products that are given to our dogs and cats contain neurotoxins. I know that the literature that comes with them says that they are safe for our pets if you follow the directions on the package, but if it's toxic enough to destroy the central nervous system of an insect, might the cumulative effects also cause damage to the central nervous system of our pets? Those same instructions warn us to wear rubber gloves, and to wash our hands thoroughly after handling, but don't seem to think anything of applying this directly to our animals.

Within a short time after application, these products are absorbed into the skin and distributed throughout the animal's circulatory system. Month after month of these applications can cause a long list of side effects and reactions. Many of these chemicals also lodge in the tissue, organs and bones of the animal, so create long term toxicity. This is a recipe for a lot of needless illness and suffering in our pets!

You can go online and research your favorite brand to see what the possible side effects are and make an informed decision. I did this after my dog became ill, and in my research a few of the most common reactions I found listed include:

  •  Mild reaction - feeling lethargic and loss of appetite 
  •  Severe reaction - seizures (sometimes for the rest of the animal's life)  
  • Worst case scenario - death

Fipronil, one of the active pesticides in a number of very popular flea and tick control products for pets, is actually heavily restricted in China because of it's toxicity to bee populations, and its latency breaking down in the environment and water, but is still widely marketed and used here in the U.S. Not only is it used in several popular flea and tick treatments for pets, but also as a long lasting termite killer in commercial construction sites! Yummy, eh?  You can read the information on this particular product on the National Pesticide Information Center's website and see if this is something you would slather on your best friend knowingly.  

There are so many safe, natural ways to repel insects for us and our pets that there is no reason to gamble with our health, or that of our furry family members. If you prefer to buy ready to use premixed products, there are also a number of safe, natural products available on the market today.

In my quest to use only safe and natural pest repellents for my own dogs, I've created some effective alternatives using essential oils and other natural ingredients that are very safe when used in appropriate dilutions. These work quite effectively against our local spring and summer tick outbreaks, and my dogs rarely have any fleas, and the few they do encounter typically don't stick around long. A healthy pet with a strong immune system is the best pest repellent of all!

If you would like to discuss how to help your pets avoid pests naturally, feel free to contact me. I look forward to guiding you on your own unique wellness journey with your animal companions.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Gloria Gray, CSAN