FLEA & TICK CONTROL
by Barbara J. Andrews, Science & Advisory Board
Tick and flea control products such as flea collars, dips, sprays, and heartworm prevention are strong chemical toxins that kill parasites but can have serious side effects.
Chemical Risks of Flea & Tick Control
In order to work, all such flea and tick treatments act as whole-body poison and all, including heartworm prevention, can cause toxicity which ultimately results in immune system failure.
Continuous use of parasite control products can actually kill your dog but the ultimate irony is that symptoms of poisoning usually are misdiagnosed as a flea allergy! In March 2010, the EPA issued warnings about spot-on flea products but all flea and tick control products cause allergies and chronic exposure weakens the canine immune system. No host animal is allergic to its natural parasites.
Groomers have learned that flea and tick dips present serious risks to humans as well as the dogs. One Virginia Beach man suffered for over a year with a cancer diagnosis as his health steadily deteriorated. No longer able to function, he had lost his home and was living in his boarding kennel when a former grooming client, a medical doctor, stopped by to see him. Appalled, the doctor immediately ordered diagnostic tests which confirmed his suspicion that certain chemicals in the tick and flea dips (since banned) were causing the "cancer-like" symptoms. IV chelation and homeopathic treatments were successful in curing his symptoms but the former groomer remained chemically sensitized.
Symptoms Of Chemical Toxicity
The problem is that chemical toxicity symptoms are similar too and therefore often misdiagnosed (or mischaracterized for profit) as allergies. Human or animal, the victim may experience one or more of the following; difficult breathing, excessive salivation, drooling, vomiting, runny eyes, itching, severe dermatitis, diarrhea, seizure, hallucination, memory loss, inability to concentrate, coma, and death.
Allergic reaction symptoms which occur immediately after use of vaporous chemicals and pesticides are easily recognized. More insidious is chronic whole-body poisoning from flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Toxicity symptoms are less dramatic but chronic exposure can be deadly.
Flea collars? Even on double-coated dogs, the flea collar releases a vapor which penetrates through the undercoat. Greyhounds and many other breeds are particularly susceptible to the chemicals in flea collars. Dips, sprays, and flea powders are all toxic but flea collars are a high risk to toddlers and to other dogs. Children breathe as they hug pets around the neck. Dogs mouth each other about the neck when playing. When a flea collar becomes wet, it's twice as toxic to the dog wearing it or to those mouthing or breathing the vapors from it!
The skin under the flea collar may erupt in tiny itchy blisters, resulting in even more irritation and potential infections as the dog scratches. Owners often think the "flea collar isn't working" and may dip or dust with flea powder, thus doubling the toxic chemical risk to the dog and other pets and/or children.
Once this cycle begins, removing the collar will not affect an immediate cure because the protein compound, which has formed in the skin, will remain there for some time and secondary infection is likely to be present. The healing process can take weeks and result in steroid injections to depress the immune system. That solution should never have become necessary!
So How To Get Rid Of Fleas And Ticks?
Answers are easy, cheap, and safe: A little Pennyroyal Oil from the health food store, added to the rinse water (or a dilution sprayed on after a bath) will smell good to you but it repels fleas. It's safe and non-toxic. Check your health food store for other all-natural flea, tick. and insect repellent herbs such as rosemary, rue, wormwood, eucalyptus, and citronella.
Cooked Garlic and/or Brewer's Yeast in sensible amounts is safe for dogs and both are a strong natural deterrent to fleas and ticks. Don't believe the recent hype about garlic being poisonous to dogs. That lie may be generated by the pharmaceutical companies but certainly it is parroted by people who don't know that garlic is one of nature's oldest and most popular herbal remedies.
Diatomaceous earth is made up of fossilized diatoms, a mineral-like, powdery non-toxic substance which is 90% silica. It clogs the breathing and pores of fleas and ticks, clinging to their waxy shells and dehydrating them. While not a "knock-down" treatment, it will considerably reduce the flea population and prevent new generations of fleas from living long enough to jump on your dog.
The fact is that animals were meant to have fleas, even ticks! Think... Mother Nature even makes some parasites species specific, although the deer tick can carry and transmit disease to other animals. None of us would care to go back to cave man days but neither should we ignore the obvious. What is unnatural about our wonderfully evolved domestic canine is that Nature never intended dogs to be inundated with UNnatural substances. Trust me, if you breed them right, raise them right, and use common sense in caring for them, Nature will take care of the rest.
As a newly informed owner you probably won't need flea and tick prevention but if you do, you will be able to work with your vet to unravel any allergic or toxic reactions. Your veterinarian doesn't know you use a pest control (exterminators) company - or that you take early morning strolls across the ninth green with the dog. He doesn't know that you live between two fields that were just crop-dusted or next to a freeway interchange where toxic fumes belch over your dogs, or that you just installed new carpet or paneling.
Above all, please remember, there were no warnings on lead based paint, cigarette packages, asbestos, Agent Orange, or Dursban, products to which you and your pets have been exposed. EPA finally banned the use of Dursban from schools and public buildings but it is still used in flea and tick dips and to treat for termites. In 2010 Dow petitioned the EPA to lift the ban on Durbsan. NOTE: Dursban and similar pesticides are legal in other countries that ship "treated" FURNITURE and BEDDING to the U.S. Read the labels. And then try for natural, harmless solutions to caring for yourself, and your dog or cat.
You can also try lightly misting you dog with apple cider vinegar - fleas hate it! Be sure to print out Take It To The Vet, an innovative checklist for routine visits that become even more critical in an emergency! Save time, money, and frustration; Your vet will love it.