Harmful Over-the-Counter Flea and Tick Products

Summer is approaching and so are those pesky pests such as fleas and ticks.  There are various methods for controlling these pests, but please keep your pet’s health in mind and check with your veterinarian for the best choice for your dog. Beware not to over medicate or chemicalize your pets with over the counter flea and tick products.

Pyrethrins is an extract from chrysanthemum flowers that have been used for over 100 years as the most common ingredient in flea and tick products for pets. It effects the nervous system of insects and as a result, insects like ticks, fleas, lice and mosquitoes die.

Commercial, over-the-counter spot on flea medications have high concentrations of pyrethroids–a synthetic, lab created chemical similar to pyrethrin– that range from 40 percent to 85 percent solution, eight to 17 times stronger than the strongest pyrethroid product currently approved for use on humans. In fact, some over-the-counter products will read: “Harmful if swallowed or absorbed through skin,” while the application portion of the label directs people to “apply the treatment to the dog’s skin.”

Pets can get chemical burns from using these flea and tick products.

Some dogs and cats are more sensitive to over the counter flea control products than others, just like people are more sensitive to skin products.  When you apply any flea control watch for your pets’ reactions.  If your pets act differently (running from you, turning in circles or rolling around), an adverse reaction may be occurring.

There are also more natural products that can be used such as diatomaceous earth, citrus extracts, sodium laurel sulfate and oregano oil that is natural and still does the trick in controlling the flea and tick population. Do your own research to find out which works best for you and your pets. Some recommended “human” remedies also does the trick on animals.

Here is a recipe for homemade citrus spray repellent:

  • 2 oranges, lime or lemons into quarters.
  • Drop them in 4 cups of boiling water. Allow to steep overnight.
  • Mix in 50/50 part of apple cider vinegar (in this case, 2 cups).
  • Pour the liquid in spray bottles and use the formula as repellent.
  • A good way to spread this mixture is using it during daily grooming time (when brushing your pet; be sure to concentrate around the tail base, legs and behind the ears).

Keeping pets healthy and feeding them good food, will help keeping them healthy and many may not even require flea and tick products. Read the ingredients on food packages; meat should always be the first product (healthy immune system is the best defense against pests).

Beware of chemicals used on lawns and parks as well. You might want to kill fire ants, have a pretty and lush yard, but your pet’s nose is much closer to the ground than you are, and therefore, they are affected by these chemicals easier and more often than you imagine.