Ticks and fleas. What to use to stop your pet being attacked by them? How to protect our pets without harming them?
I wish I had an easy answer, a silver bullet, something that is highly effective and 100% safe for your pets. But I don’t. The simple facts of the matter are that ALL of the chemical insecticides we use to kill or prevent fleas and ticks on our pets have a risk of harm, injury (or in some cases even the death) of our precious pets.
In my opinion, the most dangerous are the ingested long-acting products – Bravecto and Nexgard in particular. There are so many anecdotal stories of people having their pets get very sick or die shortly after administering these products.
And, many people sue them regularly with their pets and don’s seem to have any problems with adverse effects (though it bears remembering that sometimes the toxicity can take years or months to build up in your pet’s body before a critical dose can finally tip them over the edge into severe harm).
What have I done with my own pets?
When we lived in a paralysis tick area, I used Kiltix collars on our dogs, and checked them over very carefully every day. These collars are old school, they have an organophosphate insecticide powder they shed that coats your dogs. They last about a month. It is toxic, BUT the toxicity has an antidote (for Nexgard, Bravecto, etc, there is no antidote). I never had a problem with these collars – but I would not use the newer, longer acting collars. They have different, much more toxic active ingredients. Beware that if you wash your dog, they will be likely to pick up ticks for a week or so afterwards – you’ll have to step up your checks after washes!
I have used Comfortis (and yes, I know people have had pets injured by this, but I have researched, and it seems safer than some of the others- I made an informed choice, and I was aware of the risks). It worked well until recently when it stopped being effective.
By the way – if your dog has ever had any history of fitting, don’t use Comfortis, Nexgard, or Bravecto.
So most recently, I went back to the Frontline spray on – I don’t use the spot on because it has toxic solvents in it. I believe they are actually worse than the insecticide in terms of toxicity. I do believe that the Frontline spray is probably the safest option, though it’s a lot less convenient to apply. You need gloves, and you have to wet your pet all over with it.
Also- I never, ever use any products at all unless I see fleas. I don’t believe in using these preventatively. Treat a problem, if there is no problem, carry on!
With paralysis ticks, it’s super-important to check your dog all over very carefully at least once daily, no matter what prevention you are using
You can use Cedar oil spray – it’s pretty good, though you have to put it on 1-2 times daily, and it is oily. It smells nice though! You can also use a variety of homemade or commercial preparations with various essential oils in them – they can also be quite effective. I’m going to test/trial some of these over the next 6 months or so.
Fleas are tough. I’ve had to resort to chemical products at times, as I’ve explained. You can also be very particular about cleaning beds, carpets, the house, and use products like diatomaceous earth, boric acid, or this natural remedy. (If you have used anything else that works, please share in the comments!)
It takes a lot more time, attention, and work to use more natural options. You’ll need to vacuum daily, for instance, and keep your house spotless, and continually apply natural products to your pets. It’s doable though!
If your pet has a flea allergy, you may be forced to use chemical options for their welfare.
Ticks! I have had clients who have never used any tick product, but made a twice-daily practice of checking their pets all over their body, and pulling them off before they can cause illness. (Paralysis ticks need to be attached for up to 24 hours before they secrete enough toxin to make your pet sick, usually.) The way to do this is to massage every single part of your pet with your fingertips – you’ll feel the bump of the tick, even with long coated pets. Also check in the ears, inside the lips, in between all the toes/dewclaws, and around their bottom.
The Cedar oil spray helps repel ticks, but you always need to check them all over every day.
Keep your pets healthy!
The healthier and more vital your pet is, the more resistance they will have to these parasites. Feed a coimplete raw diet, make sure they get plenty of outside time on the earth with raw, unfiltered sunlight, reduce all toxins in your home (chemicals, artificial scents, wifi, artificial lighting etc.), give them plenty of exercise, and love them up all the time!