Safe Flea and Tick Products for Pets

Natural Remedies

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Thanks to the controversy surrounding chemical flea and tick treatments, more pet parents are seeking safe, natural products. Photo courtesy of Sarah Salmela/Getty Images

During the last several years, there has been a lot of heated controversy in regard to the potential dangers of pet flea and tick treatments that contain pesticides.

In March of 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency released the findings of a five-year study of several popular flea and tick repellants, following numerous reports of pet illnesses and even deaths attributed to these products. As a result of the findings, the agency called for more stringent labeling of and guidelines for the use of these products.

According to the EPA study, the reported pet reactions ranged from skin issues and GI ailments to seizures and death.

Meanwhile, the spot-on products were deemed the most problematic, with a total of 44,000 adverse reactions associated with these and other related products - which included 600 pet deaths - reported by pet parents, veterinarians and pet services providers in 2008 alone.

Pet Parents and Pet Safety Advocates Stand Up

Sergeant's Pet Care Products, Inc. and Wellmark International had agreed to stop producing flea collars that contain the pesticide propoxur, due to potential risks to children.

But there are those who feel that this is far from enough. In fact, in February 2014, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit against the EPA for continuing to allow the chemicals propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos to be used in pet flea products, whereas the NRDC demanded an outright ban.

There has also been a growing grassroots movement among pet parents whose animals have become ill or died following exposure to flea and tick products containing toxic chemicals. One is Tiny Timmy, a cat who suffered permanent neurological damage after being treated with these products, whose experiences are recounted on his Facebook page, Tiny Timmy's Healing Journey.

I had my own personal experience with this in 2014, when my cousins lost their 8-year-old cat, Kitty Boy, who was much beloved by my whole family, to a cancerous tumor his vet attributed to his wearing flea collars. So this is an issue that pet retailers, service providers, veterinarians and pet parents must be fully aware of.

Taking a Natural Approach to Treating Fleas and Ticks in Pets

Not surprisingly, the alarm associated with these products has resulted in a greater demand for safe, natural remedies and holistic treatments that are void of any synthetic chemicals and potential toxins. So it's very important for pet retailers and services providers such as pet groomers to familiarize themselves with these.

The wide-ranging products include supplements, shampoos, collars, combs, carpet and pet bedding  treatments, wipes, powders, sprays and more.

Some of the products being touted as safe and natural contain such ingredients as:

  • Brewer's Yeast
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Essential oils with cedar, geranium, lemongrass, tea tree oil, peppermint
  • Garlic, under the supervision of a holistic vet ... and more.

Homeopathic and holistic pet health care providers also highly recommend that pets be fed high-quality natural foods that do not contain such grains as corn and wheat or soy because this helps to boost a pet's immunity and better enables their systems to ward off pests.

The Excitement About Diatomaceous Earth

The aforementioned food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is receiving a lot of interest within the pet industry due to its seemingly miraculous properties and overall purported safety and efficacy. This is a powdery substance comprised of the fossilized remains of marine life that contains such minerals as the crucial trace element silica and is reported to have numerous amazing health benefits for pets, people and the planet.

According to the Earthworks Health website, DE can help to alleviate everything from high blood pressure and cholesterol to osteoporosis, while facilitating weight loss and hair, skin and dental health, among its other purported benefits.

This helps to control fleas in pets via piercing the insects' hard outer shells, causing death from dehydration.

This can be sprinkled around the home, on pets and in bedding.

There are now commercial pet products that contain DE such as Thomas Labs Organic D/Earth, 100 percent natural, food grade DE which can be sprinkled in a pet's environment and given orally. But it's very important to remember that the DE must be food grade, not the chemically treated stuff used in swimming pools.

Other Natural Products of Note

As I mentioned previously, there are all kinds of products for use on pets and in the home that help to naturally repel fleas and ticks. One safe alternative to traditional chemical-laced flea and tick collars is the Pet Ultrasonic Flea & Tick Pendant, a device that attaches to a pet's collar and repels pests via emitting ultrasonic sound waves.

Online retailers Only Natural Pet puts out a line of natural flea and tick repellants that includes Herbal Defense Spray, with neem oil, lemongrass and other herbals ingredients; All-In-One Flea Remedy for the home; Herbal Defense Squeeze-On spot-on remedy with geranium; and more.

Important Cautions About Natural Flea and Tick Products

As I always emphasize, it is very important for those in the pet industry to thoroughly do their homework when providing any products or services that directly impact pets' health and well-being. Natural products are no exception. For example, certain natural products that are safe for dogs may harm cats.

In addition, there is a lot of controversy regarding the use of essential on pets, particularly cats. A number of pet care experts claim that certain oils can be toxic to kitties. So, as always, do your homework.

Regardless, the products you carry must contain the highest quality ingredients, and you must know your products. Pets' very lives depend on this.

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