It’s only February, and thankfully, most of the little vampires otherwise known as fleas and ticks are still dormant (at least here in Philly). But spring is on its way, and with it, our not-so-friendly bloodsucking hitchhikers. Preventing fleas and ticks naturally – or at least minimizing them while also minimizing harm to our pets – is challenging but possible.
First off, I’d like to say that topical, spot-on flea/tick products such as Frontline II, Advantix, Vectra and Revolution contain potent pesticides that are SUPER TOXIC, as do chewable products such as NexGard! The good news is theses products are very effective. The bad news is many dogs and cats become sick following application, at least short-term. What we do not know is the long-term effect of using these toxic products, especially month after month for the life of the pet. My recommendation is to use toxic flea and tick products as minimally as possible and to focus on nontoxic or less toxic strategies to manage fleas and ticks, as outlined below:
1. Maximize good health through nutrition.
2. Flea combs – Your first line of defense for short-haired dogs and cats. The best ones are metal, with short teeth in double rows. Useful for picking up fleas and flea “dirt” (excrement).
3. Raw garlic – Not more than 1/2 clove per 10 pounds per day.
4. Nutritional yeast or brewer’s yeast. Use about a teaspoon of yeast daily for cats and small dogs, and a tablespoon for a 50-pound dog.
5. Wash bedding in hot water and dry on high heat.
6. Vacuum and remove vacuum bag from house.
7. Flea Busters boric acid preparation – for the house – probably the least toxic, truly effective treatment we have that actually kills fleas. If you buy from fleabusters.com, comes with a one-year guarantee!
8. Beneficial nematodes – for the yard. Also very effective.
9. Plant Therapy’s geranium bourbon essential oil. Use on dogs, but not cats. Apply one drop on back of neck, one mid-body and one at tail base once daily. May help repel fleas and ticks.
10. Some of my clients swear by Only Natural Pet’s flea and tick tags, although I have not yet tried them: http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/products/Only-Natural-Pet-EasyDefense-Flea-Tick-Tag/999024.aspx
11. Pet Health and Nutrition Center’s Tick Prevention tincture: http://www.pethealthandnutritioncenter.com/tick-bite-protection-prevention-dogs-cats.html
12. Top Performance Natural Flea & Tick Shampoo: https://www.petedge.com/zpetedgemain/catalog/productDetail.jsf?wec-appid=PEDM_WEBSHOP_TR&itemKey=005056A633791ED2B59143B7ED9C6FB3
Good luck, and remember, when it comes to conventional flea and tick products, less is best!