Pests or Pesticides?
There have been many warnings of giving pets topical and oral preventatives for fleas and ticks. Some of them very scary. If we think about what we know and continue to learn about human health we know that the best things for our health are whole foods, natural based products and chemical free living. The same is true for our pets. It’s no wonder then that the chemical laden pesticides used in flea and tick preventatives are causing serious issues in pets.
Ticks carry several diseases that can be transmitted to humans and pets. Of them, the most common is Lyme disease which, although exposure to the bacteria that causes Lyme is common, Lyme disease is not. Only a small percentage of dogs in the united states tests positive for each year and few ever even have any symptoms. In fact, a large percentage of these dogs test positive for Lyme antibodies from exposure to the disease. (see more here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2017/04/05/amp/canine-lyme-disease-prevention-tips.aspx )
Fleas, though quite a bit of a nuisance are not life threatening except in cases of severe infestation where blood loss causes severe anemia. They can be transmitted by outdoor animals and larvae lives in environments like soil, carpets, bedding etc. and thrive in warmer temperatures.
Generally, the veterinary prevention and treatment for these pests involves pesticide chemicals in amounts deemed "safe" to use on animals that are administered topically or orally. But immunocompromised pets as well as seemingly healthy pets are at risk for serious side effects that chemicals can have on our bodies and reports of seizures, neurological issues and even death have been reported as a result of using some of the chemical products used for flea and tick prevention and eradication. (To see some of the products that have reported incidences of this visit here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/11/11/amp/flea-tick-medication-health-risks.aspx )
So what is a pet parent to do? It's important to note that healthy pets are less likely to attract pests and a healthy, biologically appropriate diet is a terrific defense. (For more information on dog food and nutrition, see our upcoming blog posts and check out the documentary Pet Fooled). In addition, natural pest repellants and killers can help but what alternatives are there to subjecting our furry family to chemical pesticide preventatives? Continue reading for some or our favorite natural repellants, deterrents and natural pesticides!
Diotomeceous Earth (food grade): DE is a powder that can be used both on pets and in the home. DE works by breaking down insects exoskeleton and removing the moisture from their bodies causing them to die. This powder can be sprinkled lightly on your pet and rubbed into their coat and can be sprinkled on bedding, carpets, or anywhere your pet spends time. It can even be used for ant problems in the home! Be sure to purchase food grade NOT pool grade for your pets.
Essential Oils: There are a variety of essential oils that are safe for use on dogs. HOWEVER, they must not be applied to humans or pets without diluting. You can make your own pest repellant spray using oils like: Lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, cedar, rose geranium, rosemary & neem oil. Add 5-10 drops of the oils you choose to 4-8oz of water (use more or less water depending on how many of the oils you use - oils should be diluted about 80%) you can also dilute in carrier oil such as avocado, grapeseed or coconut oil which also serves as a flea and tick repellant AND killer. NOTE: not all oils safe for dogs are safe for cats.
Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV is a natural repellant and can be used topically and given orally. Create a 50/50 solution of ACV and water to pray on your pet before going outside and add 1 tsp per 20 lbs of ACV to your pet's food.
Citrus juice: Citrus fruits are natural deterrents to fleas and some other flying insects and can be used undiluted on humans and pets. Use fresh-squeezed lemon or orange for best results and spray or rub onto your pet's coat.
Natural Products: If you're not a DIY-er, there are some natural products on the market that are ready made for use. Some of these include topical sprays and herbal collars by companies like: Dr. Greenpet, Earth Animal, Only Natural Pet, Richard's Organics.
And here's a few of our favorite recipes for pet flea & tick repellant:
Essential Oil Repellant
1/4 cup Distilled Water
1/4 cup Witch Hazel
4 drops lavender essential oil
4 drops lemon essential oil
4 drops eucalyptus essential oil
4 drops rosemary essential oil
Mix in a spray bottle and spray on your pets
Lemon ACV Repellant
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup ACV
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Shake in a spray bottle, apply directly to pet's coat or using a washcloth
Here's to a safer, more natural approach to your pet's health!