Is it worth the risk?
During 2010, the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was taking steps to increase the safety of spot-on flea and tick control products for dogs and cats. Previously, they had issued warnings concerning approximately 70 spot-on products due to an increase in the number of adverse reactions to these products. Reactions included skin irritation, skin burns, seizures, and death.
The EPA called for stronger and clearer statements on labels, and demanded more stringent testing and evaluation on these products. The EPA estimated that, in 2008, manufacturers received approximately 43,000 reports of adverse effects, with 1,300 involving major adverse reactions or deaths.
All EPA-registered spot-on flea and tick preventive products, sold in shops and through vets, were involved in the surveillance and response plan. The active ingredients in these products include amitraz, cyphenothrin, dinotefuron, etofenprox, fipronil, imidicloprid, metaflumizone, permethrin, pyriproxyfen, and S-methoprene.
Dogs younger than three and small-breed dogs (weighing 10-20 pounds) tended to be the most at risk from spot-on products.
If you feed your dog a natural diet, he’s unlikely to have fleas. Have you noticed that some dogs (and some humans) are more prone to being bitten by parasites than others? There’s a reason for this, and it’s to do with the strength of the individual’s immune system, and the levels of B vitamins, zinc, selenium and antioxidants in their bodies.
Fresh, whole, raw foods provide digestive enzymes and vitamins which improve health and repel fleas.
Neem is especially useful in flea and tick control. The non-toxic immune-enhancing bark (from the Neem tree) can be safely sprinkled around the home to kill flea larvae. Bathing with Neem shampoos, and spraying with Neem oil will kill adult fleas and their larvae without posing any risk to your dogs.
Fleas also dislike the smell and taste of garlic and brewer’s yeast, so mixing these in with your dog’s food can make him particularly unattractive to fleas. Be aware, though, that some dogs will start to itch and scratch if given brewers yeast, so withdraw this supplement if this happens to your dog. Cider apple vinegar also repels fleas, and this too can be added to your dog’s food. It’s especially effective if you also crush a clove of garlic in with his evening meal, along with the vinegar.
If you live in an area with lots of fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and midges, you might consider sponging diluted vinegar into his coat before you take a walk. He may smell like a chip shop, but he’s less likely to attract flying parasites!
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can also be added to your dog’s food, and it will help control fleas and ticks in the environment. Apart from killing fleas and ticks, it’s also an effective de-wormer. DE is made from ancient microscopic single-celled plankton which lived in oceans and lakes. When DE comes into contact with insects, it causes dehydration. However, it doesn’t cause problems for humans or dogs. A dog over 40lbs but under 100lb would have a tablespoon of DE added to his food for between 60 and 90 days. Make sure it’s food grade, though.
Externally – as with Neem products - DE can be lightly rubbed into your dog’s coat, and also sprinkled in his bedding. Both can also be sprinkled around the home – in soft furnishings, carpets and nooks and crannies where fleas like to lay their eggs. Keeping the environment clean and free from dust and debris is an important part of flea control.
If you have repetitive, heavy, flea infestations in your dog, it would be a good idea for you to check whether your house is Geopathically stressed. Parasites are naturally attracted to Geopathically stressed environments.
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