3 Deadly ingredients In Flea And Tick Treatments
Dr. Dobozy of the EPA’s Pesticide Division has found that the active ingredient (fipronil) in Frontline remains in a pet’s system with the potential for nervous system and thyroid toxicity.
Tests on laboratory animals resulted in thyroid cancer and altered thyroid hormones, liver and kidney toxicity, reduced fertility and convulsions.
Frontline’s web site creates the impression that the product stays in the oil glands of the skin. But Dr. Dobozy’s study showed that, in fact, it does enter the body and the organ systems.
Advantage contains the active ingredient Imidacloprid. In laboratory studies Imidacoprid has been found to increase cholesterol levels in dogs, cause thyroid lesions, create liver toxicity, and has the potential for damaging the liver, heart, lungs, spleen, adrenals, brain, and gonads.
As a neurotoxin, it can cause incoordination along with labored breathing and muscle weakness.
When this drug was tested after its introduction in 1994, researchers found an increase in the frequency of birth defects when it was tested on rats, mice and dogs. In the Journal of Pesticide Reform, author Caroline Cox exposes thyroid lesions as a result of exposure to imidacloprid.
Most people think that the pyrethrins (naturally occurring compounds from the chrysanthemum plant) and pyrethroids (the synthetic counterpart) are less hazardous than other tick and flea preventive ingredients.
Data from pyrethroid-based insecticides was recently made public through the Freedom of Information Act and analyzed by CPI. According to CPI, from 2002 through 2007, at least 1,600 pet deaths related to spot-on treatments with the above mentioned ingredients were reported to the EPA. That was nearly double the reported fatalities linked to flea treatments without pyrethroids.
The pyrethroid spot-ons also accounted for more than half of the “major” pesticide pet reactions including brain damage, heart attacks and seizures. Non-pyrethroid spot-on treatments accounted for about 6 % of all major incidents.
Bio Spot Flea and Tick Control, Defend EXspot Treatment and Zodiac FleaTrol Spot On all contain either or both of the active ingredients Permethrin and/or Pyriproxyfen.
Permethrin has been implicated as a carcinogenic insecticide causing lung cancer and liver tumors in laboratory animals. There is also a suspicion that it disrupts endocrine function. It can act as a neurotoxin, causing tremors as well as increased aggressive behavior and learning problems. Vectra #D, the new guy on the block, contains 36.08% Permethrins.
As a result of all this newly revealed information in the CPI’s report, the EPA in April 2009 announced it was taking a closer look at all spot-on flea and tick products. The EPA is also taking action to address uncertainties about the so-called ‘inert’ ingredients present in these products.
Safe alternatives are very much needed for flea and tick control. Medical problems that have become common in our dogs and cats could potentially be linked to these previously “believed to be innocuous” spot-on products.
How To Keep Fleas Off Your Dog
The main goal of natural flea prevention? Make it through flea season without an infestation, keep flea populations at a minimum and a happy itch-free dog.
Once fleas are in your house and on your dog, you’ve got a whole lot of crappy work ahead of you …
… weekly flea baths for your dog, washing every bit of fabric in your house, vacuuming everything under your roof. Several times over, in fact, to make sure the infestation is completely gone.
Flea prevention is a whole lot easier than trying to get rid of them once they’ve taken over.
How do you prevent flea infestations and keep them off your dog?
Follow these tips and home remedies for fleas and make natural flea prevention simple and easy.
But first, let’s start with the outdoors and try to keep the fleas out of your home and off of your dog so you’ll never have to use my remedies.
Keeping Fleas Out Of Your Yard
When soil temperatures rise above 45 degrees for at least 2 to 3 weeks (spring, summer and fall in most areas), use nematodes to minimize flea populations.
Nematodes are your best friends when it comes to keeping your yard flea-free. If fleas aren’t in your yard, they’re less likely to find their way onto your dog.
What Are Nematodes?
Nematodes are tiny wormlike multicellular animals found in the soil. There are a lot of different kinds of nematodes, good and bad. The good ones I’m talking about here are beneficial in controlling many garden pests like ants, termites and grubs — but they also eat fleas!
They can be found at many garden centers and online. I pre-order mine from Arbico Organics to ensure they arrive in early spring.
They come ready to use; you just add water as directed on the package. Spray them throughout your yard using a hose sprayer or a watering can.
Since nematodes are living organisms, you’ll need to use them quickly after they arrive. Apply them in the spring, summer and fall for effective coverage.
Plants That Guard
Keep pots of lemon balm, sage, rosemary, catnip, lemongrass, basil and mint outside of your main “potty” doors and throughout your yard. These plants help repel fleas through the natural oils that they secrete and deter fleas from entering the house.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a non-toxic powder made up of fossilized organisms called diatoms that break apart flea eggs and dry them out before they can grow into adult fleas.
You can purchase DE at most holistic dog supply stores, health stores and garden centers. Make sure you’re buying food grade DE only. Industrial grade DE is chemically treated and used for pools and manufacturing.
Spread food grade diatomaceous earth outside in your yard wherever your dog spends most of her time. Look for places where the earth or grass is worn down from your dog’s extensive napping or relaxing schedule.
CAUTION: DE can irritate your lungs so wear a mask and make sure your dogs and animals aren’t breathing the dust. After the dust has settled, DE is safe.
Fleas don’t like garlic, so it’s a natural flea repellent that’s safe to use in the yard and with your pets.
Here’s a recipe you can make to spray in your yard when flea populations are reaching epic proportions.
Garlic Water For Your Yard
What you need:
8 heads of chopped garlic (there’s no need to peel it for this recipe)
1 gallon of almost boiling water
How to make it:
• Place the garlic in an extra large soup pan and pour the water over the top
• Cover and let the mixture steep for 12 hours
• Pour through a strainer into a garden sprayer
• Lightly spray your lawn and garden area
Note: When treating your yard with garlic, just give everything one light spray. If you use it too heavily, garlic might harm some of those beneficial bugs you do want in your hard, so just give everything a light spray and don’t soak your grass or plants in the liquid.
You can also make small changes in your house to keep fleas away.
Protect Your Home
If you have carpets, follow these steps.
1. Steam clean your carpets a least once or twice a year. This can really get you off to a good start in protecting your home from fleas. Fleas love to hide in carpets, especially where the carpet meets the wall.
2. Vacuum at least once a week in all areas. Immediately empty the vacuum bags or throw out canister debris in an outside garbage container.
3. Once a month during flea season, spread diatomaceous earth all over and vacuum after 48 hours.
Reminder: DE can irritate your lungs so wear a mask when you’re applying it and keep your pets out of the room until the dust has settled.
You can use small amounts of garlic as an internal flea preventative.
Now you might be screaming, “No, I’ll hurt my dog!”
Yes, garlic can be harmful if you use really huge amounts (equivalent to 75 cloves of garlic for a 70 lb dog) but garlic is safe to use if you use freshly chopped organic garlic and feed the right amount.
So always use organic fresh whole clove garlic and avoid garlic supplements.
You can safely give your pet ¼ clove of garlic per ten pounds (use regular sized garlic, not jumbo). If your pet weighs less than ten pounds, cut a ¼ clove of garlic in half and give ⅛ clove.
No matter how big your dog is, I prefer not to give more than two cloves of garlic per day. So if you have a hundred pound dog, still give her only two cloves of garlic.
Start feeding garlic one month before the start of flea season and you’ll find it’s an effective deterrent in your flea prevention tool kit.
Read my article on garlic for more in-depth information on how garlic can help your dog.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Inside And Out
Fleas don’t like a dog who’s pH balanced.
Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) creates a more acidic environment outside and balanced alkalinity on the inside, making it a must-have for flea season success.
Feed your dog ½ teaspoon of ACV per day per 25 lbs. ACV contains important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, vital acids and potassium.
Tip: Test your dog’s urine with pH strips before adding ACV to their food or water. Dogs should have a pH between 6.2 and 6.5.
Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe
Your dog’s skin and coat should be slightly acidic for fleas to find him inhospitable. You can easily achieve this by spraying your dog each week with the following solution.
What you need:
4 oz warm water
6 oz ACV, unfiltered and preferably organic
¼ tsp of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
How to make it:
Mix the ingredients in a small spray bottle and spray your dog’s coat and underbelly weekly, avoiding the eyes or any open wounds.
Unless you’re willing to mix your essential oils with a carrier oil (a vegetable oil used for dilution), don’t use them.
Many people, blogs and companies advocate water-suspended essential oils for fleas. This practice is dangerous. Water can’t safely disperse essential oils because essential oils are NOT water-soluble unless they’ve been diluted with a solvent.
Chemistry is chemistry and anyone who tells you otherwise is misinformed.
There are some natural substances that dissolve essential oils, but for do-it-yourself flea and tick sprays, I suggest using a thin carrier oil like grape seed oil or fractionated coconut oil. Mix one drop of essential oil to one milliliter of carrier oil.
Here are a few flea repelling essential oils:
• Cedar (atlantica)
• Eucalyptus (radiata)
• Clary sage
Avoid making or purchasing flea repellent that contain essential oils of wintergreen, pennyroyal and clove. These oils are dangerous for your dog and should not be used for any reason.
Everyday Flea Repellent
Pay special attention to the belly, tail, legs and ears.
What you need:
1 organic lemon
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 sprig of garden sage (Salvia officinalis)
1 quart of filtered water
Optional: 1 sprig of lavender
How to make it:
• Slice the lemon into thin rounds
• Place the lemon,rosemary and sage in a large stainless steel or glass bowl
• Add a quart of almost boiling water
• Cover and let steep overnight
• In the morning strain the liquid into a spray bottle
• Refrigerate (lasts 1 to 2 weeks)
Health Is The Best Defense
This last recommendation is probably the most important of all.
Fleas are parasites and parasites seek out the weak and unhealthy. This means if your dog is healthy, fleas will be more inclined to leave her alone and jump on your neighbor’s dog instead!
Good diet is the foundation of good health. The most important way to keep your dog glowing with good health is to feed her a diet full of fresh whole foods and unprocessed proteins.
In particular, supply her with plenty of B vitamins (found in most meats, organ meats, oily fish and eggs), probiotics (such as goat kefir or fermented vegetables), sulphur rich foods (eggs, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) as well as omega-6 fatty acids (poultry, eggs, flaxseed and hempseed) and omega-3 fatty acies (mackerel, freshly ground hemp and flaxseed).
Read more about food sources of vitamins and minerals for your dog.
Does Your Dog Have Fleas?
If you suspect your dog might have fleas despite your best prevention efforts, here’s how you can find out:
Stand your dog on moistened paper towels or a damp white bath towel.
If little specks of dirt fall onto the towels and turn red or brown, your dog has fleas.
Treating Your Dog For Fleas
During an active flea attack, wash your dog with citrus Castile soap each week followed by a final rinse with ACV. For this rinse, use one part vinegar to ten parts water.
Keeping your dog’s coat clean and using a flea comb is essential to natural flea prevention. Comb from top of head to the underside of the tail, neck, underbelly and legs.
Once a week, wash all of your dog’s bedding in hot water with a natural, unscented detergent. If your dog sleeps with you, make sure you throw your own bedding in the washer once a week too.
Each week vaccuum your carpets and floors, paying special attention to any places your dog hangs out (along with his little flea companions). An extra diatomaceous earth carpet treatment or two can also help keep fleas from multiplying.
Because the flea’s entire life cycle, from eggs to larvae to pupae to adults, can be as long as several months, you’ll need to keep repeating these steps to make sure the flea infestation is completely gone.