Getting rid of fleas and ticks can be a serious business. These pests drink the blood of our dogs and may also bring diseases as they suck blood. They may even cause neural damage and issues such as paralysis. They cause pustules, severe rashes and inflammation on our dog’s skin. Your dog in turn can scratch himself in frenzy to the point of wounding or cutting himself. A flea infestation can not only affect dogs but also humans by latching themselves on human hair. Getting rid of fleas and ticks is very important to give our dogs and ourselves a healthy life, free from irritation.
I have done extensive research to find out which flea busting treatments are actually poisoning our pets. I believe that not only commercial products cause harm, but also some natural ones. I have written this article to shed light on those hidden poisons to help you protect your dog.
Which Natural Treatments Are Bad?
Many people have now taken the path of choosing natural remedies to rid their pets of fleas and ticks. On the other hand some people still take the easy yet dangerous route of using unnatural chemicals and poisons to get rid of these critters. Using a natural method can spell a longer life for your dog or sparing him from the risk of seizures, paralysis or sudden death. Most vets still recommend using harsh flea treatments that may lead to severe problems.
Warning!!! Not all Natural Flea Treatments are 100% Safe
Some natural flea treatments can be effective and be all out natural yet they may have a few side effects. Some dogs can be sensitive to some ingredients. Being aware what anti flea treatment could harm your dog can help you stay away from them.
Here are some of the treatments that you may have thought of but they may have some negative effects.
If you just want to know which products definitely are safe check out this article I wrote with the products I use and recommend.
Neem Oil – Neem oil has become a popular flea treatment. Unfortunately if your dog or cat has fleas he tends to lick that part. Licking Neem Oil can cause stomach pain and reproductive system issues. Using this product would require you to put a cone collar on your dog for him to be unable to reach the areas sprayed with Neem Oil.
Cinnamon and Nutmeg – Cinnamon and Nutmeg can be a deterrent to fleas since they have antimicrobial benefits. However please avoid Nutmeg at all costs since they may have really bad effects for your dog. On the other hand, if you use Cinnamon it might be ok, though it may also cause an upset stomach and diarrhea.
D-limonene – This chemical compound can be found in some pet shampoos that are used to get rid of fleas and ticks. WARNING!!! This product can be deadly to dogs and cats! It can cause severe internal hemorrhage to the point of having a bleeding lung and drowning in one’s own blood. It can also cause severe allergic reactions such as rashes that are highly inflamed. Eye irritation, crusting skin, seizures, neural damage, excessive salivating, vomiting, behavioral problems, kidney and liver failure and death can be adverse effects of this product. This are similar effects that you can find in some commercial products such as Frontline and Frontline Plus and even other well-known brands.
Geranium and Geranium Oil – Many products claiming to be natural and dog friendly claim to use essential oils and use geranium or geranium oil in the mix. Unfortunately geranium is clearly tested a toxic substance to dogs and cats. Even as a plant or a flower can cause harm, what more if you use the purer extracted form which is the oil.
Geraniums causes dizziness, vomiting, itching, rashes, behavioral changes, appetite loss and even death. Geranium causes poison because it has two toxic substances called linalool as well as alcohol geraniol. If you dog suffers any symptoms stated above, please go to the vet right away since they may lead to dire consequences.
On a side note, there is a plant called Jungle Geranium that you may have around, this one comes from a different species and not from the same as the Geranium which are toxic to dogs and cats.
Linalool – Linalool as discussed from Geranuims is harmful for dogs. This can be found in anti-flea and tick treatments and shampoos. This chemical is normally used to kill insects and pests, but causes liver damage since this is absorbed though the fatty tissue and then metabolized by the liver. Over exposure can lead to liver failure. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and excessive urination. About 677g per kg of body weight is the fatal dosage of Linalool. Treatment would first include bathing the dog in dish washing liquid and then bringing him to the vet since this is very toxic. The vet would need to use activated charcoal and perform a Gastric Lavage if he accidentally tastes, licks or ingests Linalool. Making the dog vomit is not recommended because he might get it in his lungs.
Tea Tree – Tea Tree is a very popular ingredient used for many skin care products to treat acne, dandruff and fungal infections. A low dosage of Tea Tree at about 1% can be tolerable to both humans, dogs and cats. On the other hand there are many tea tree oils that are sold in its purest form which is significantly toxic to any living creature. Tea tree contains terpenes which is similar to a potent insecticide can be effective in killing fleas but also causes harmful effects on both you and your pet. Never use pure tea tree oil on cats or dogs. This if ingested or even if applied topically can cause drooling, vomiting, being nauseous or lethargy. If a pet takes this in large quantities he or she may suffer severe reactions such as neural disability, lung problems, difficulty in breathing, seizures, going into a coma and even death.
Before using any treatment that has tea tree, make sure that the dosage does not exceed 1%; this goes for both humans and pets. If you are to use on your pet, make sure that he does NOT lick that are of his body. If your pet is poisoned by terpenes or tea tree, please give him a bath right away using a dish washing liquid diluted in water. If he has ingested it you must bring him to the vet because there is a not cure to terpenes poisoning and he go through Stomach Pumping or Gastric Levage as well. Poisoning symptoms normally show up which in two to twelve hours from exposure.
Lavender – Most people say that lavender is good for dogs and helps treat stress and sometimes also given as a food additive to help his digestion. You have to be careful with lavender though because even though it is not poison, eating too much of it can cause an upset stomach such as diarrhea and vomiting and may also cause skin irritations and allergies. If you live in an area with many insects and bees, they may also be attracted to the smell causing them to sting your beloved pooch.
Bay Leaves / Bay – Bay Leaves have essential oils that have very strong smell. The smell can be used as an insect repellant. According to toxicologists, bay is not totally poisonous but may cause skin irritations. Some dogs and even humans can suffer from inflammation and rashes from contact with bay leaves. Do not use it on your dog because instead of alleviating his irritation from fleas and ticks, he may suffer more from getting sores on his skin.
Eucalyptus – This fragrant plant that we normally use as relief for back pain and joint pain and colds, is really bad for dogs. Ingesting this may cause him to have diarrhea, depression, weakness, excessive salivating, vomiting, weakness and difficulty in breathing. Again if this has happened to your pet, bath her with some baby shampoo several times until the eucalyptus scent is no longer there if it is just skin contact, but you would still need to consult your vet if she orally takes in this substance.
Rue Oils – Rue comes from Rue flowers. This are normally used as insecticides although butterflies love it. Rue causes severe itching by just touching it. When eaten or tasted it may cause vomiting, diarrhea, severe stomach pain. In high toxicity levels, this may cause hepatitis in both dogs and humans, liver failure, renal damage, seizures and even death. If your dog ingests it, please rush him to a vet right away to avoid neural damage or death.
I have also found out that some fruits and veggies which are OK for humans to eat are also bad for dogs.
Ok so which natural flea and tick products ARE safe?
I’ve found some really great products that are safe and work well and and I use them on my pets. To read more about this check out my article on safe natural flea and tick treatments for dogs.
I hope that this has helped you protect your furry baby.