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Fleas and Ticks: Should You Use Chemicals On Your Dog?

by Borderstan.com June 23, 2011 at 9:00 am 0

Lupe, Borderstan

If your dog spends a lot of time running in the grass and woods, you should know your options for flea and tick control. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tori Tyree

It’s no surprise to my readers that I am not a big fan of chemicals anywhere near my animals. I constantly urge people to avoid pet foods with chemicals and I am not a fan of toys that are made of plastic. Moreover, I waver about the use of some vaccinations, and I pretty much never use monthly flea and tick repellents.

In 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was “intensifying its evaluation and closely monitoring the use of topical flea and tick products on pets.” The flea and tick killers under the most intense scrutiny are commonly known as “spot-on” treatments, but all flea and tick products are of interest.

This announcement was in response to more than 44,000 potential adverse reactions to spot-on flea and tick products reported in 2008. You can read the full EPA report, which was last updated February 2011.

I realize that D.C. summers are bad for fleas and ticks, and protection is important! The important thing to know is that there are alternatives.

One of the best-known products for preventing fleas and ticks on dogs is Frontline. In the 10 years I have lived here I have only used Frontline one time, and that was only because I brought in a stray dog that had fleas and then they jumped on my cats. I used one Frontline treatment to kill them, thoroughly washed and vacuumed house, and they were gone.

In the last few years Frontline has been considered the “safe” spot-on treatment to use because it has fewer chemicals than other brands. However, at the end of the day it still has the potential for adverse reactions in your pets — especially if you are using it once every month, year after year.

My favorite product for flea and tick prevention is from Ark Naturals. It’s called Neem Protect Spray. Neem oil has been used for centuries to repel mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, mites and lice. Before heading off for a hike in Rock Creek Park I would spray myself and my dog and we would be completely insect free for the day. In the days that my dog or cats are just in the house, or walking around the neighborhood, I’m just really not concerned about them suddenly being covered in fleas and ticks.

Another option is Sentry’s Natural Defense spot on treatment. It only uses peppermint, thyme, cinnamon and lemon grass oil to repel biting insects and is completely safe for your pets and your kids!

I’ve even seen a product on the market that works with your animals own inherent energy that emits a frequency to repel insects. I haven’t used it, but it does have a 100% money back guarantee, so it can’t hurt to give it a shot.

It should also be noted that a dog or cat with a healthy immune system is far less likely to attract fleas than an animal that has a compromised immune system. If you’re feeding your animal a healthy diet, and use immune boosting supplements such as brewer’s yeast and garlic tablets during the summer months, and you may not ever have to worry about a flea infestation.

As a general rule of thumb I offer this bit of advice. When you are looking for a product to use on your animal, you should make sure there aren’t any warning labels on the packaging that say “do not use without gloves,” or “if ingested, call poison control immediately.” Follow this rule and you should find a safe product to prevent fleas and ticks.

Tyree is the owner of Walk of the Town, a dog walking and pet sitting company. She has been working with animals most of her life — caring for them in animal hospitals, training dogs, volunteering at zoos and the Washington Humane Society, and counseling customers about pet nutrition. You can leave a comment or send Tyree an email: tori(at)borderstan.com.

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