Is Traditional Flea-Tick Control Your Only Option?

Great Dane on a walkSpring is just around the corner; new life abounds which also means fleas and ticks. Modern dog owners seem to live in constant dread of these pesky pests that also carry disease that can effect human health as well as the health of our dogs. However, what many pet owners fail to realize is the conventional way of dealing with these pests (they do have a viable purpose in nature but is a topic for another article) – either through a monthly topical application or a monthly oral dose, whether prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) – is that these are toxic pesticides we are using on our pets. Is traditional flea and tick control your only option? No, in fact it isn’t an option at all – nature has always provided the solution.

It’s highly likely that many dog owners do realize these are pesticides but feel they are the lesser of the two evils, choosing to take this route rather than having to deal with an infestation or disease from these pests. I believe that a part of this fear has been mongered by those who stand to gain the most benefit through either the sales of their products or through the vectoring of disease that these products can facilitate.

Dog owners may prevent the acute disease or infestation but instead albeit possibly unwittingly set their dogs up for long-term chronic illness – although they may not connect the dots between these pesticides and the illness their dog(s) are currently suffering from. I attribute much of this to lack of informed consent and knowledge on both the products being used as well as the nature of the parasites themselves.

The missing link is first and always found in proper nourishment within the body in order to be able to mount a natural defense. In contrast to traditional animal health care practitioners, natural health care practitioners (such as animal naturopaths) work diligently to educate and help pet owners understand how to support and nourish the bodies of our pets through species appropriate raw diets, so they never attract these pests in the first place. They also educate on the pests themselves and what it really takes for our pets/dogs to become infested with the pests themselves and/or infected with the illnesses these pests may carry. The knowledge these practitioners share helps to not only alleviate all the unnecessary fears but also empowers pet owners to take back control of the health of their pets so that they may thrive.

The Ingredients in Flea and Tick Products

Dog owners often aren’t informed (or choose not to read the labels if purchasing OTC products) about the adverse effects, the neurotoxins and cancer causing ingredients (both active and inert), or how they also affect the environment by their traditional health care practitioners. In fact, dog owners are rarely given Full Disclosure and/or Informed Consent regarding these products. Most blindly trust their veterinarians to prescribe what is best for their pets without ever considering that what they are putting on their beloved pets or into them could very well be far, far more dangerous than the pests they are trying to control. And it is also obvious that the veterinarians themselves are also being kept captive in the dark as well by the pharmaceutical companies who promote and pander these pesticides to them – and for reasons where economics not health plays the major role.

Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General of the New York Environmental Protection Bureau stated, “The public must recognize that any decision to use a pesticide, or to otherwise be exposed to pesticides, is a decision made in ignorance.” By the way this would include ANY conventional flea or tick product.

There are also the pseudo “natural” products masquerading as “safe” alternatives such as those containing pyrethum or permethrins typically found in spot treatments, indoor and outdoor insect sprays and pet shampoo products. In fact most often if you call the manufacturers of these products – whether OTC or prescription products – you will be told they are safe IF used properly. Meaning if you wear gloves when applying them and keep them out of reach of your children they will be “safe.” According to an E.P.A. survey of poison control centers, they cause more insecticide poisoning incidents than any other insecticides except for the organophosphates.

If you have to wear gloves to put them on your pets, and keep them out of reach of your children, as well as wrap and carefully dispose of the containers the products come in then how can that possibly be safe for your pets who have the product put ON or IN them?

A popular and newer product has the following possible side-effects listed in their Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS):
The following adverse reactions have been reported in dogs after giving Milbemycin oxime or lufenuron: vomiting, depression/lethargy, pruritus, urticaria, diarrhea, anorexia, skin congestion, ataxia, convulsions, hypersalivation and weakness.”

The following article is very insightful listing many of the ingredients in these products as well as the actual products themselves:

By reading and learning this information, you can then be more fully prepared to make truly informed decisions for your dog. Always read the MSDS and/or ask for Informed Consent if you choose to continue using these type of products on your dog. Because I know that some people will still choose to continue using these products due to convenience, comfort zones, and they trust whatever they are using simply because they want to believe these companies would never sell an unsafe product or that their veterinarians would never prescribe an unsafe product – I implore you to do your own research! These are YOUR dogs, and therefore they are YOUR responsibility not your veterinarian’s, and not the companies who make these products. These companies are in business to make money. Because they are, even your veterinarian is often uninformed or chooses to remain willfully ignorant.

Did you know that the skin is the largest organ in the body – both an eliminative and an absorbent organ? This means that the skin is actually ingesting at least 60% of what is applied to it into the body!

My former dog, Shadrach, a Neo Mastiff, used to try and hide from me each month when I went to apply this toxic substance to his back. As soon as it was applied he would want to be let out and he then immediately rolled in the grass and then the dirt, and back again, to try and rid himself of this horrible pesticide. I used to feel so bad applying it to him believing I had no other way of “protecting” him – but I learned a better way.

Before I share a better way with you, let me share with you a couple of comments by veterinarians who also have learned these sames truths I have:

I have never recommended any of these products due to the dangers of using neurotoxic chemicals on animals. My concern is that these chemicals cause acute and chronic disease to my friends the animals. My other concern is that the caregivers and their children are being exposed to these chemicals by touching and hugging them 24/7. There are no safety studies on the long term effect of any of these chemicals on children…Any product that tells you to wear gloves, do not get it on your skin and then put on your pet once a month should be warning enough that it is dangerous to be around. These chemicals can causing seizures, liver, kidney, thyroid, spleen and adrenal disease weakness of muscles, labored breathing, incoordination, increased miscarriages, birth defects, heart and brain disease as well… There are no studies on long term use or the levels of these chemicals in the body. My advice is to make sure your pets do not have this on them and if they do, wash it off immediately and never use it again. Make sure your children’s doctors are aware of their exposure to these chemicals if they are having any acute or chronic conditions that relate to these chemicals. Please pay this forward and save a life. –Stephen Blake, DVM

As if the administration of vaccines without Informed Consent and Full Disclosure is not enough damage to the companion animals of this country, the administration of poisons and chemicals is another way that disease is promoted. I have found many people calling in about the development of lymphoma following administration of Frontline, usually in geriatric patients. I see that the product is known for causing cancer in mammals – specifically thyroid cancer. You have to be very careful with these products as they are anemic with the truth on the product inserts, they are nimble with the facts in writing up MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and it usually is the FDA adverse event site and the work of organizations like the Organic Growers and Pesticide Watch groups that are the ones that reveal the truth about the dangers on these products. Companies try to hide the truth out of the Freedom of Information Act which makes we wonder why we even have this legislation. It often takes the savvy of an attorney and litigation to free the facts from the “trade secret” confidentiality agreements that industry makes even the FDA sign. The post release adverse event reporting often is the only place the consumer learns the truth, often then it is too late. ~Patricia Monahan Jordan, DVM, CVND, CVA,CTCVH & Herbology

What Can You Do?

Notice in the quote by Dr. Jordan she mentions the MSDS which every company must supply with their products whether it is an OTC (over-the-counter) product or a product prescribed by your veterinarian. Be sure and read those. If your veterinarian doesn’t offer one, ask for it AND for an Informed Consent so you are aware and informed of all possible side-effects of the products being prescribed for your pet.

Also be aware that not all companies will include all of the ingredients in their MSDS and it is those hidden products that also can be the major cause of adverse events. In fact some companies hide the MAJORITY of the ingredients! For example Bayer does not reveal more than 90% of the ingredients in Advantage. What is interesting though is that its MSDS does warn us to “use a respirator for organic vapors” in order to avoid “respiratory tract irritation and other symptoms such as headache or dizziness” (symptoms of nervous system exposure).

That warning is for humans and yet we are putting these ingredients ON our dogs! It pays to be informed BEFORE using ANY product on our pets.

Obviously these chemicals weaken your dog’s immune system, which recognizes the chemicals as poison. The body then has to work over-time to eliminate the toxins. The major organs, such as the liver and kidneys, are overtaxed. For this reason, your dog’s body is not able to handle contact with the normal bacterial or viral substances in our world allowing him/her to get sick more easily.

There are very simple and safe ways to prevent fleas and ticks naturally. A healthy dog will not attract pests, however if he or she does get a minor infestation, their bodies will mount a proper defense as well as build a natural immunity. But how do you do that?

These simple steps will help you focus on promoting health instead of preventing illness/or treating disease in your pets although possibly they are going to 1) seem too simple and 2) possibly be intimidating to those who have come to believe in the religion of conventional pet care.

#1: Feed the right food.
Stop feeding pet food purchased in a bag or can. Switch to a species-appropriate raw diet. A species-appropriate raw diet is what your dog’s ancestors ate to survive and thrive. Dogs are carnivores that need to eat raw meat, bones and organs to thrive.  This is the foundation to good health as well as to thwarting pests and parasites!

#2: Stop using toxins on and in your dogs
Flea, tick, and mosquito products include neurotoxins and cancer-causing ingredients. The side effects are so severe that some dogs die just days after being treated with these deadly chemicals (some die within hours). Vaccines are also viewed as a toxin, particularly from those of us who adhere to a naturopathic lifestyle for ourselves and our animals. You will need to do some deep, thorough homework in this area to learn the truth about vaccines as well as to release the religion and fear surrounding this topic.

#3 Follow the eight laws of health.
These are laws of health mandated in nature. Laws in nature mean: not optional. #1 is one of those laws and in fact is the foundation of good health. These laws are species appropriate nutrition, exercise, pure water (sans fluoride, chlorine, etc.), sunshine, moderation, fresh air, proper rest and trust in the other seven laws of health.

#4 Use natural pest deterrents
There are many good products you can choose from these days to use when your pet is down in his or her immune system due to injury or illness, or even during the transition from conventional to whole health care. In order to enjoy the outdoors (my dogs and I) I make my own essential oils sprays*. There are many alternatives these days. I’ve used AmberTick as well. Like I said, there are many viable, natural alternatives these days so we don’t need to use any type of toxic, harsh chemical pesticide on our dogs.

In conclusion remember that a healthy animal is NOT an attractive host to either parasites or disease and that you always have options that don’t have to include toxic pesticides.

Copyright 2013 Aspenbloom, Dr. Kim Bloomer, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author/Publisher. This article is intended to be educational. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a qualified animal health professional. Dr. Kim Bloomer and Aspenbloom Pet Care, do not assume any legal responsibility for misuse of the products discussed in this article.

*Quality, non-store bought, non-synthetic, non-adulterated, non-pesticide grown essential oils

PHOTO ATTRIBUTION: Meshach the Great Dane by Dr. Kim Bloomer, Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved.



Kim Bloomer, V.N.D., N.D. is an animal naturopath as well as being certified in small animal nutrition, with years of experience in animal wellness. Dr. Kim is a published author, writer, blogger, host of the DOGgone Truth podcast. Dr. Kim offers Animal Naturopathy Mentoring and Courses. Subscribe to her DOGgone Newsletter for updates or to her blog via email. Copyright ©2005-2024 Aspenbloom Pet Care, Dr. Kim Bloomer, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author/Publisher. This article is intended to be educational. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a qualified animal health professional. Dr. Kim Bloomer and Aspenbloom Pet Care, do not assume any legal responsibility for misuse of the products discussed in this article. The only essential oils referenced on this website are Young Living.