Alternatives For Flea And Tick Control

Biohacking for Dogs

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By Dr Dan Beatty


Biohacking for dogs is at the forefront of redefining flea and tick prevention strategies, with a noticeable shift among pet owners towards natural and holistic approaches to protect their pets without the use of harsh chemicals. This trend is influencing how we care for our pets in an era increasingly focused on non-toxic, environmentally friendly solutions. The push towards natural methods has sparked interest in less invasive, innovative solutions that aim to keep dogs safe from parasites in a way that benefits their health and the environment. This article ventures into the realm of natural flea and tick prevention, highlighting how blending natural options with modern scientific innovations presents a possible avenue for effectively safeguarding our pets. However, it highlights the difficulty in finding a perfect solution, since while traditional treatments may have drawbacks, the alternative, supposedly safer alternatives are not without their own challenges.

Oral Preventatives: Effective but not without Risk

Isoxazoline is the active ingredient found in several oral treatments for flea and tick infestations. It’s known for its effectiveness, but not without possible side effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings about neurological adverse events in dogs and cats treated with isoxazoline products. These can range from muscle tremors and ataxia to seizures. There is also a class action lawsuit against one of the first adopters of Isoxazoline.

Project Jake’s survey study done in August 2018 showed that neurotoxicity did not just occur in insects but dogs as well. Quote from the abstract of that study –

Project Jake findings were compared to a retrospective analysis of publicly available Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported AE. The number of total AE reported to FDA and EMA were comparable, although a 7 to 10 times higher occurrence of death and seizures was reported from the EMA or from outside the United States (US). Serious AE responses for death, seizures and neurological effects reported in our survey were higher than the FDA but moderately lower than the EMA reports. These sizable global data sets combined with this pre- and post-parasiticide administration survey indicated that isoxazoline neurotoxicity was not flea- and tick-specific.

Although survey studies are fraught with biases, this study also compared Adverse Events (AE) reported to FDA and the EMA, and these numbers are massively higher than what the drug companies used to get the products approved.

While the majority of dogs and cats tolerate these treatments well, it is essential to recognize that no single medication is perfectly suited for every animal. The FDA’s alert encourages pet owners to have a conversation with their veterinarians about whether an isoxazoline class product is right for their pet.

It’s also vital to keep an eye out for any unusual behavior or health issues following the administration of any flea and tick preventative. Immediate consultation with a veterinarian is crucial if a pet exhibits symptoms such as loss of muscle control, shaking, or seizures.

With this knowledge, one might feel topical treatments are the way to go; however, these, too carry their own risks and limitations. Effectiveness can vary by location due to regional resistance in pest populations, and side effects may present additional challenges for pet owners.


Topical Treatments: Efficacy and Resistance

You may have heard about or even used the various liquids applied directly to a pet’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades and on the rear end of large dogs, known as topical treatments. While these may be effective in flea and tick control, there’s more to consider before deciding if they’re right for your pet.

Side effects from topical treatments are not unheard of. Skin irritation, hair loss at the application site, gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea can occur, and also reports of seizures. But beyond the immediate side effects, resistance is a concern that’s often overlooked.

Like bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, fleas and ticks can grow resistant to certain pesticides. This resistance is a real problem, but it varies by location. Some regions may have flea and tick populations that are much less responsive to these treatments. Ask your veterinarian to know whether you live in a resistant area or not. They can provide insights on resistance trends. If you do live in an area of resistance, then placing these products on your dog is of no benefit and just merely risks your dog to possible side effects.

The key to effectively using topical treatments is correct application. Inadequate dosing can make these products not work and also contribute to resistance. FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS carefully and monitor your pet post-application.

Flea and Tick Collars: Weighing the Risks

“Flea and tick collars???, They don’t work!” has been a mantra of veterinarians for years. That was the old collars, there are new collars that are effective and can provide continuous protection against pests for 8 months or even longer. However, some pet owners have raised the alarm after distressing experiences.

Some pet parents have shared stories about their furry friends developing nasty reactions after wearing these collars, ranging from skin irritation and rashes to more concerning symptoms like vomiting and lethargy. Even more alarming are reports linking the collars to severe neurological issues, including seizures. But that’s not all—there are also heartbreaking accounts of pets that have sadly passed away, with their owners suspecting the collars might be to blame. It’s enough to make any pet owner pause and wonder about the best way to protect their four-legged pals from fleas and ticks. The company denies these issues; however, significant evidence occurs when neurological issues dissipate after removing the collar but reappear with its reapplication, hinting at causation.

While an individual anecdote may not be considered conclusive evidence, a series of similar stories should be closely examined. These accounts have sparked discussions regarding the safety of these products, particularly when the health of a cherished family member is on the line. Despite these concerns, many households use flea and tick collars without incident, attesting to their effectiveness and manageability.

Transitioning from collars, some pet owners explore more natural avenues, like essential oils. Common in holistic pet care, these oils are reputed to deter pests with their potent scents. But there’s more to these plant-derived liquids than meets the nose.



Essential Oils: Natural Repellents and Daily Application

There has been a surge in interest in essential oils for flea and tick prevention. Many pet owners seek alternatives that harness nature’s power, but it’s crucial to drill down to the effectiveness, practicality, and safety of such solutions.

First on our agenda is recognizing essential oils as repellents. It’s true, certain oils derived from plants like lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass are lauded for their ability to ward off fleas and ticks. The compounds in these oils emit scents that, while pleasant to us, are quite off-putting to these pests.

However, reality sets in with the need for frequent application. To be frank, if you opt for this route, you’re looking at applying these oils daily or even more often to ensure continuous protection. That’s time-consuming and might overwhelm your pet or yourself with a potent botanical scent. Your dog is going to smell like essential oils.

To help with the frequent application issue, there are now collars infused with essential oils. Essential oil-infused flea and tick collars work by releasing a continuous, low concentration of natural repellent oils into your pet’s fur and skin. These essential oils, known for their natural pest-repelling properties, create an invisible barrier that deters fleas, ticks, and other parasites. The collar’s slow release of these oils ensures that the repellent barrier remains active for an extended period, typically offering protection for several weeks or even months.

With that said, essential oils aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Each pet reacts differently. Some might find the scent comforting, while others may get anxious or show signs of irritation, especially with sensitive skin. Hence, observe how your furry friend responds before proceeding full steam ahead.

And we can’t brush aside the safety aspect. Essential oils should be used in proper dilution; pure concentrates can be harmful to pets. Also, long-term studies on the use of essential oils, particularly in the context of flea and tick prevention for pets, are relatively limited. Most of the available research focuses on short-term efficacy and safety rather than long-term effects, so we do not know the long-term effects of these toxic compounds. I’ll stress this: always consult your integrative vet before introducing any essential oil regimen to your pet’s care routine. Safety comes first, after all.

Moving onto our next exploration – the Flea and Tick Repellant Tag – we step from the natural arena into the realm of technology. This tag claims to use scalar waves, a concept garnering both curiosity and skepticism.

Flea & Tick Tags: The Answer….Maybe?

Flea and tick tags employ the concept of scalar waves to repel fleas and ticks from pets. Scalar waves, a theory in quantum physics, are said to create an energy field around the pet that is unfriendly to parasites. The tags are designed to emit these waves, forming a protective barrier without the use of chemicals. This method of using scalar waves is considered innovative, tapping into energy fields to provide a non-invasive form of pest control.

Regarding flea and tick prevention, pet owners always look for the safest and most effective solutions. These tags are a popular choice among those seeking non-chemical alternatives; however, they have mixed outcomes in scientific studies. While an unpublished study involving 25 dogs showed positive results, emphasizing the tag’s potential as a protective measure, a smaller study that was published but with only 6 cats, suggested no significant impact on flea control (3 cats using the tag is by no means a good study). So, it’s worth noting that alongside these studies, there are numerous positive testimonials from pet owners around the world, praising the effectiveness of these tags in repelling parasites. This blend of scientific research and real-world feedback highlights the importance of considering a broad range of evidence when choosing the best flea and tick prevention method for your furry friends.

One other issue with flea and tick tags is that it takes some time for them to adjust to your pet’s heart and bio-rhythm, which can take between 30 and 60 days. Therefore, it is necessary to start using them ahead of the insect season. Additionally, these tags need to be on or very close to your dog at all times, which is easy if your dog wears a collar all the time. However, it may not be as easy for those owners who take their dogs’ collars off for safety reasons.

The journey to protect your beloved pets from fleas and ticks leads to a crossroads of traditional, chemical, and natural methods, each with their unique advantages and potential drawbacks. After exploring various avenues, including isoxazoline-based medications, topical treatments, flea and tick collars, as well as natural essential oil applications, it becomes clear that no one-size-fits-all solution exists.

It is VITAL to approach flea and tick prevention with a mindset that prioritizes your pet’s safety and health above all. This means staying informed about the various products and practices available, while also maintaining a close dialogue with your veterinarian. They can provide valuable insights into your pet’s specific health profile and offer tailored advice for preventing these pesky parasites.

In considering all options, remember that the key to effective flea and tick management is vigilance. Regularly check your pet for any signs of fleas, ticks, or adverse reactions to treatments. Be aware that resistant flea and tick populations or unforeseen side effects from treatments could occur, emphasizing the need for continuous observation and adaptation of your prevention strategy.

In conclusion, the battle against fleas and ticks is ongoing, and while there is no universal remedy, an arsenal of knowledge, coupled with the guidance of professionals, can ensure that your pets remain happy, healthy, and free from these external threats. Make decisions based on RESEARCH, PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, and your pet’s unique needs, as you navigate the path to effective flea and tick control.

Author’s note: It took me a while to write this article because, honestly, I want to give straight-up answers, and in this case, there are none. I am regularly asked about flea and tick control, and “What do you do?” is a very common question. I recommend that you do what’s best for you and your situation. This article is written to give the reader what I call “informed consent” – as long as you are informed and know the risks, then do the best you can. Personally, I use a flea & tick tag from Fleas Gone, and my dogs will occasionally be sprayed with essential oils when in a wooded area or an area I know has pests. Get 5% off on Fleas Gone tag here


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