With spring on its way, you definitely don’t want fleas or ticks around your dog. Ticks are known to spread multiple diseases – and they do this with just a single bite. This can get even worse if your dog is the type that has severe flea allergies – can lead to serious complications you would never wish for your furry friend.

Unfortunately, for most dog owners, their first line of defense against fleas and ticks are conventional flea and tick products, which are nothing but chemical pesticides. Different studies and lab results of most of these products have shown that they actually do more harm to our dogs than good.

To help you better understand this, here are four common ingredients used in chemical flea and tick products. Let’s check them out, then you can decide if they are really what you want for your dog.

4 Ingredients in Flea and Tick Meds That Are Actually Harmful to Dogs

If you’ve always believed that common flea and tick preventatives like sprays, chewable, and spot-ons are safe for your dog, you might need to think again. There is now a bunch of evidence showing otherwise. These products contain ingredients that do more harm than good to your dog, and some of them include:

#1: Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids

Pyrethrins are natural compounds gotten from the chrysanthemum plant and the synthetic form of the compound is pyrethroids. While there has been so much bad wrap around fipronil, it is unfortunate that pyrethrins and pyrethroids are even more hazardous.

In 2009, EPA found that more than 1,600 pet deaths from pyrethroid spot-on treatments were reported from 2003 through 2008. In the same year, studies also show that out of 90,000 adverse reaction reports submitted to EPA, about 25,000 of them were caused by products containing pyrethroid. While that may not look like a big deal, it’s almost twice the number of reported fatalities recorded with flea and tick products that don’t contain pyrethroids.

At the same time, more than half of all major pesticide pet reactions, including heart attacks, brain damage, and seizures were linked to pyrethroid spot-on products. According to a survey conducted by EPA on poison control centers, these products cause more incidents of insecticide poisoning than any other class of insecticides (except organophosphates).

Pyrethrins can alter the normal functioning of your dog’s sex hormones and can also cause anemia. Plus, it can trigger some allergic responses like severe asthma, seizures, brain damage, and heart attack, which can all be life-threatening.

To top it all, EPA already classified pyrethrins as compounds that have the potential to cause cancer in humans. The compound caused thyroid tumors when tested on lab animals.

#2: Fipronil

This is another common ingredient in pharmaceutical flea and tick products that can be very harmful to dogs. When fipronil enters the body, it can be contained in the organs, fat, urine, and feces of your dog. According to EPA, lab tests have shown that prolonged exposure to fipronil at low doses can cause a host of damages to dogs. Some of them include:

  • Kidney damage
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid toxicity
  • Convulsion
  • Disrupted thyroid hormones
  • Movement difficulty
  • Loss of hair
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching
  • Reduced fertility
  • Fetus mortality

That’s not all. Studies also show that when fipronil is exposed to light, the compound breaks down into smaller molecules called fipronil-desulfinyl, which is then ten times more toxic than fipronil. This means you will be putting your dog at a much higher risk when you allow her bake in the sun after applying fipronil products. You also can’t leave the plastic vial of the product in the sun, and you will have to think twice before applying it on a short-haired dog.

#3: Amitraz

Amitraz gets rid of ticks and fleas by disrupting their nervous system. However, this is not only deadly to fleas and ticks but can also be very harmful to the dog or their family members. This is particularly true for dogs that love to eat or chew their flea collar.

Amitraz can also cause high blood sugar in dogs. At the same time, it can cause low blood pressure, palpitation, diarrhea, decreased body temperature, and seizures. Plus, it can also be carcinogenic – both to the dog and its family members.

#4: Imidacloprid

This is an insect neurotoxin found in flea and tick products. It is a systematic insecticide that works by disrupting the nervous system of insects. Although this chemical tends to be less harmful to humans, studies have shown that it could cause liver toxicity and thyroid lesions in dogs.

Imidacloprid can also increase cholesterol levels, cause several damages to the brain, lungs, heart, adrenal, and kidneys. When it was tested on rats, mice, and dogs shortly after its introduction in 1994, researchers found that it caused increased frequency of birth defects in the animals.

‘So what are my options?’

There is a better way to ward off ticks and fleas from your dog without running the risk of putting their health in jeopardy.

Start by Keeping Your Dog Healthy

A big part of warding off fleas and ticks from your dog is making sure the dog is healthy. Healthy dogs will definitely attract less fleas. So, if you are thinking of how to make your dog less appealing to fleas and ticks, here are some inspirations to help:

  • Instead of artificial shampoos, consider using natural shampoos for your dog
  • Give your dog a natural & whole foods based diet
  • If you live in a flea-prone environment, try amber collars for your dog. Electromagnetic tags and lightly spraying the underside of your dog with a natural protective spray will also work fine.
  • Regular use of natural flea sprays
  • Cut down on annual vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs
  • Add small amounts of fresh garlic to your dog’s diet

What Are Some Natural Flea And Tick Repellant Recipes To Try?

When it comes to repelling fleas and ticks, you can never go wrong with essential oils. Different essential oils offer different protection against fleas and ticks. If your dog is only battling with ticks, you will only need to apply just one of the blends mentioned here (the corresponding one).

But if both fleas and ticks are what you are looking to get protection against, you should use one of the blends in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

If your dog is a very healthy type, you don’t have to apply the oils every day – just once a week will do. However, you can always tell if you need to reapply the protection when you can’t smell the oil on your dog anymore. So let’s see what’s in the natural recipes:

Flea Free Essential Oil Blend

  • 4 drops of clary sage essential oil
  • 1 ½ oz. of sweet almond or hazelnut oil as the base oil
  • 1 drop of citronella essential oil
  • 3 drops of lemon essential oil
  • 7 drops of peppermint essential oil

Mix all these oils together to make a fine blend. Then store it up in a dark glass dropper bottle. When it’s time to apply, apply about 2-4 drops to your dog’s legs, neck, chest, and the base of her tail. If your dog uses a cotton collar or a bandana, you can as well apply a few drops to them.

Bye-bye Ticks Essential Oil Blend

  • 1 ½ oz. of sweet almond or hazelnut oil as base oil
  • 3 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops of geranium essential oil
  • 2 drops of myrrh essential oil
  • 2 drops of rosewood essential oil
  • 2 drops of opoponax essential oil
  • 1 drop of bay leaf essential oil

Mix them all together to make a fine blend. Then store it up in a dark glass dropper bottle. Apply it the same way as explained above for flea free essential oil blend.

Final Note

Chemical flea and tick products are not only dangerous to dog health but some of them can also cause cancer in their family members too. If you are looking to prevent flea and tick infestation, switching from chemical-based flea and tick products to natural repellants will be a great decision to help preserve your dog’s health.

However, the very first place to begin is to make sure your dog is always healthy so it can appear unappealing to these pests. Give your dog healthy food and avoid the use of artificial shampoos on her. Then, use some of these natural solutions to keep the bugs away!