Your pets are a part of your family, and of course, you want to protect them just like any other family member. Which means you want to keep them safe and protected from fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects that can carry disease and lead to health problems.
Though many harsh chemical-based products exist on the market today, they can be dangerous or cause adverse side effects.
I set out on a mission to find products made using herbal ingredients (with no harsh chemicals) for your precious pets. I believe they are your best options to help repel pests.
They can be used on cats, dogs, and even horses (depending on the type) and offer different types of protection: low, medium, and high protection, as well as temporary and long lasting. Find the solution that’s best for you based upon your pet’s personality, lifestyle, and preferences.
View My Top Picks for Flea and Tick Repellents!
The Dangers of Using Harsh Chemicals on Pets
As a proactive Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who is also trained in homeopathy, herbs and acupuncture, I consider it one of my missions to help educate people on the advantages of natural animal care. My goal for your pets is to keep them in glowing good health.
Every day, I see dogs and cats suffering from the side effects of drugs or other harsh chemicals they've been given.
In April of 2009, the EPA issued an advisory about "spot-on" chemical pesticide products. These are products applied to the neck or back of dogs and cats as a flea and tick preventive.
The advisory was issued due to a significant increase in reported adverse reactions – everything from mild skin irritation to seizures and death. In 2008, over 44,000 reactions presumed to be tied to spot-on products containing harsh pesticides were reported by pet owners, veterinarians, and other animal caretakers.
And the 44,000 reported incidents in 2008 was a significant jump from the 28,000 the prior year, and included 600 deaths. In my opinion, the risks of these products are simply too great to warrant their routine (monthly) use. I encourage dog and cat owners to avoid these pesticides in favor of healthier alternatives.
Here is what the report produced by the EPA found…
Pest Repellent Product Incident Report Revealed
Due to the EPA’s concern over the number of disturbing incidents from spot-on use in 2008, they issued a report in 2010 that said the following…
- Most adverse reactions were in dogs weighing between 10 and 20 pounds.
- Reactions in mixed breed dogs were most commonly reported (with the Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Miniature Poodle, Pomeranian, Dachshund, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, and Bichon Frise at particular risk).
- Products with the chemicals cyphenothrin and permethrin were especially problematic for small breed dogs. Cyphenothrin is found in spot-on repellents from many companies, sold both over the counter and through veterinarians.
- Most incidents occurred in dogs under three years old, likely at their first exposure to a spot-on product.
- Adverse reactions for both dogs and cats were primarily skin, GI tract, and nervous system related. Skin reactions included redness, itching, hair loss, sores, and ulcers. Spot-on products found to cause these types of reactions included a major market leader.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms included vomiting, diarrhea, and salivation. Spot-on repellents found to cause some levels of these symptoms included another major market leader, whose products have been sold by the millions at big box pet stores across the country.
- Reported nervous system symptoms included lethargy, nervousness, ataxia (movement problems), tremors, and seizure.
- A number of serious adverse reactions in cats were the result of the cat either being treated with a product intended for dogs, or through exposure to a treated dog.
- Inert ingredients in spot-on products were generally assumed to contribute to toxicity.
- Dosage ranges were considered to be too wide in some cases and product labeling was identified by the EPA as needing revamp in many instances.
- The EPA's Companion Animal Studies guidelines are insufficient to predict the toxicity of spot-on products.
I’m sure you understand now why I suggest you avoid these potentially harmful products at all costs!
I realize many people choose harsh chemical-based spot-on products and collars because they are convenient and effective… but there's just too much evidence of consequences for your pets.
Plus, as I've seen over and over again in my practice, pets still get fleas and ticks even when owners use some of the harshest spot-ons. It's also not out of the question that pests may be building up their resistance to some of these chemicals as well.
That's why I strongly believe in using herbal, yet still effective, pest repellents combined with a regimen of daily grooming and nose-to-tail body checks of your favorite furry friend.
And speaking of body checks...
There is one thing I cannot stress enough. No matter what pest control solution you use, you must examine your pet daily, particularly for ticks. Even if you're applying some of the harshest chemical solutions on the market (which I don't recommend), your pets can still wind up with little blood suckers embedded in their coat and skin.
I realize this is not what most pet owners want to hear... but I've seen it all too often in my practice regardless of what repellent is used.
With all this in mind, let's get into more details on some of these common pests, how they can affect your dog or cat, and my recommendations on the best protection system for your pets.
When it comes to fleas, the “cat flea” is the most common... representing about 85% to 95% of all household fleas found in North America.
But despite its name, the cat flea can infest both cats and dogs, and humans. Other fleas include what are called the “human flea” and the "dog flea."
Outdoors, fleas tend to hide themselves underneath leaf piles, decks, or porches. Inside, they like to burrow into any available dark place such as cracks in flooring, crevices, and even underneath furniture cushions.
Even though fleas can live in colder climates, they're most often found where temperatures range from 65° F to 80° F and where there's high humidity (75% to 85%).
If you live in a warm, damp climate, you'll especially have to be on the lookout for fleas landing on your pets and you. I offer my advice on ways to protect your pets from fleas and other pests as well, coming up.
How Ticks Get Attached to Your Dog or Cat
Probably number one on my list of disgusting and bothersome pests affecting dogs and cats are ticks. The bottom line... ticks are external parasites that require blood from their host (your cat or dog, or even YOU), to sustain life. Ticks generally live in wooded areas, bushes, undergrowth, meadows, and clearings. But they can also be found anywhere there is grass.
Ticks come in various types and sizes. And some are so tiny they can be very difficult to see. They attach and embed themselves to their host in areas where the skin is thin – inserting their rostrums (tube-like structures covered with backward-pointing spikes) and secreting saliva allowing them to anchor tightly to your dog or cat.
How Fleas and Ticks Pick Your Pet
To understand how to best prevent these pests from attacking your dog or cat, we need to look at how they detect their victims.
Fleas and ticks have several mechanisms they use to detect their hosts, and one of the most important ones by far is odor (olfaction). Fleas and ticks have olfactory receptor neurons narrowly tuned to specific odors they innately search for. Their simple olfactory systems consist of about 20 sensilla located on their first pair of legs. If this simple odor detection system senses something other than what it's been tuned for, the fleas and ticks will reject the host.
And this is how many of the flea and tick repellents on the market work today… they mask the specific odors on your pet that pests are searching for in the environment. If the formula is effective, fleas and ticks cannot smell, taste, or even identify the host they're seeking. So, they simply ignore your dog or cat. Though there are many “harsh chemical solutions,” I have found some herbal repellents that work just as well, if not better.
My Criteria for the Ultimate Pest Repellent
You know my strong feelings about avoiding harsh chemical-based pest preventives, so here is my professional recommendation on what you should use…
Let's start with my checklist for what I would consider the ultimate flea, tick, and mosquito deterrent and removal package...
- Has NO synthetic chemicals
- Does not produce harmful effects when pets lick their skin
- Contains ingredients formulated by nature
- Is available without a prescription and can be used daily
- Has a pleasant odor but is designed to create an undesirable scent to pests
- Needs to be fit for use on pet bedding and does not stain fur
In order to help you with a system that I believe will be most efficient for your pets and family, I am introducing you to four different options, which can all be used together.
First… Unique Brazilian Oil Blend
The first recommended product on my list, Flea & Tick Defense, has a bit of an exotic story behind it -- it's based on a formula created in the Amazon rainforest.
The indigenous Brazilian people living in the rainforest have always dealt with pests in their environment. The lush forests and tropical climate are perfect breeding grounds for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.
Many of the people live in dwellings without doors or windows... inviting pests to have free access to their homes.
Yet, for centuries, the people have used a uniquely effective method to protect themselves from these pests – a combination of oils from their native surroundings – the same healthy oils used to formulate Flea & Tick Defense.
The formula is created using a special blend of “pet-friendly” Brazilian natural oils, based on centuries of successful use in one of the most hostile, pest-ridden environments imaginable.
If it works in the Amazon rainforest, it certainly will provide your pet with an excellent deterrent for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and even flies.
What also makes this product unique is that while it can be used on your cat or dog, it can also be used on horses to repel the same insects.
What's in Flea & Tick Defense?
Let's take a closer look at each of the oils and ingredients that make up Flea & Tick Defense.
Here are the natural Brazilian oils and ingredients found in Flea & Tick Defense spray...
- Lemongrass oil – When formulated into a spray for pets, promotes a shiny, healthy coat, and helps repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.
- Cinnamon oil – A versatile essential oil widely used in the household. It is an effective environmentally-friendly ingredient that helps deter mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and other pests from attacking your dog or cat.
- Sesame oil – A rich, almost odorless oil derived from tiny sesame seeds. When combined with other essential oils, it helps protect against pests and promotes the health of your pet's skin and coat.
- Castor oil – Castor oil has been used for years by veterinarians. When combined with other oils, helps to repel a variety of pests.
- Purified water – Only the purest water is used to help blend and properly balance the unique formula of essential oils.
There's one very important point I want to make about these ingredients... it's not the individual elements that make Flea & Tick Defense so effective, it's the expert blending and balancing of the Brazilian oils with the pure water.
You need to be very careful when selecting a pest preventive for your pet. If too much of any one ingredient is not blended properly, your pet's skin could become irritated.
The types of oils and correct percentages of oils blended together are not only important for assuring efficacy, but also safety -- especially for cats.
Results from a 2006 study did show how the Flea & Tick Defense formulation was well tolerated by cats. This is a very important distinction for this product. I've seen my share of kitties in my practice that were injured through the improper use of a synthetic essential oil their owner thought couldn't possibly harm them.
You can trust that Flea & Tick Defense is formulated to be effective. I would never recommend it otherwise.
Next… The Only 'Spot On' Product I Will Ever Endorse
I’ve already talked about the harsh chemical-based spot on products you shouldn’t use, but I’m excited to introduce an herbal spot-on product that is healthy and effective.
Spot On Topical Herbal Repellent is available for dogs and puppies, and cats and kittens, and contains no harsh ingredients.
What makes this product different from Flea & Tick Defense is that it provides longer term protection. Each dose lasts one month, so you don’t have to keep re-applying it. It also offers an option for sensitive dogs or cats that don’t like to be sprayed with anything.
This product is also an alternative for people with pets that swim or go out in the rain often, since Flea & Tick Defense has to be reapplied if your pet gets wet.
Take a look at the ingredients within Spot On Topical Herbal Repellent…
- Geraniol – The essential oil derived from geraniums (a flower), geraniol is an effective plant-based mosquito repellent.
- Wintergreen Oil – This oil is usually obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of the wintergreen plants, and is used for many things including to help relieve discomfort and pain, as well as to help repel insects.
- Almond Oil – Used as a “carrier oil” that the essential oils are mixed with, almond oil is good for the skin and makes a great emollient.
All these ingredients are healthy for your pet – as well as extremely effective repellents – so you can rest easy that your dog or cat will be protected.
Spot On Topical Herbal Repellent is also easy-to-apply and has a refreshing, pleasant minty smell.
My Recommended Repellent Collar
For those who want the longest term option available, I recommend the Herbal Repellent Collar for large dogs, small dogs and puppies, and cats and kittens.
This product has a special blend of oils that allows it to work for up to 4 months – without using any potentially harmful chemicals.
It’s water resistant so pets can swim with it on, and you don’t have to worry about reapplying it afterward.
What makes this product so unique is the way it is manufactured…The active ingredients are a part of the collar itself, not something that’s applied to just the outside of the collar. This allows the repellent to be diffused over a long period of time.
Efficient Tick Removal as Part of Your Total Health Program
The Tick Stick takes advantage of a tick's rostrum morphology to easily twist the tick out of your pet.
It’s important to remember that examining your pet's body regularly should be part of your total pest preventive plan.
All pest repellents are only deterrents and your pet will still get bugged by bugs on occasion. Certainly, keeping your pet clean with frequent baths and brushing is part of a regular examination program.
Removing most of the pests you occasionally find on your dog or cat is not a big issue except for one... ticks. Ticks bore into your pet's skin using backward-pointing spikes that can make safely removing them difficult.
If you try to remove a tick by squeezing it and pulling it out, this could cause the tick to secrete more saliva into your pet and pieces of the tick's rostrum could remain embedded in your pet's skin.
So, what can you do to safely remove ticks? One of the best tools I've come across and highly recommend as part of my system for protecting your pet is the Tick Stick.
The Tick Stick is one of the few tools I've found that allows you to actually hold the tick (without compressing it) and remove it by using a twisting, rather than a pulling motion.
Why is the twisting motion so important?
Earlier I mentioned how a tick anchors its rostrum into your pet with backward-facing spikes. So, if you try to pull it out, the spikes work against you locking the tick ever tighter in place.
And if you continue to exert more pulling pressure on the tick, the rostrum could break... potentially leaving tick body parts in your pet's skin.
The twisting motion allowed by the Tick Stick takes advantage of the tick's rostrum structure. As you twist, the spikes bend into the axis of rotation, making it easier to remove the tick.
You should be able to see why I included the Tick Stick as part of my advanced regimen to protect your pet against ticks.
Protect Your Pet Using My Favorite Pest Repellent System
One thing to keep in mind about Flea & Tick Defense, Spot On Topical Herbal Repellent, the Herbal Repellent Collar, and the Tick Stick is that they work best when used together, for maximum protection.
Ask yourself, what kind of protection do I need for my pet?
Here is a good guideline:
Low Protection: For city pets or those with little exposure to tall grass, brush, woods, or infested environments, the Herbal Repellent Collar slowly and constantly releases active ingredients to protect your pet for up to 4 months.
Medium Protection: For pets that spend time in the yard but without exposure to tall grass, deep woods, or areas like dog parks which could easily be infested, Spot On Topical Herbal Repellent offers the right level of protection. Each dose lasts one month.
High Protection: For pets regularly exposed to potentially high tick and flea infested environments, the Herbal Repellent Collar and the Spot On Topical Herbal Repellent provide good protection against pests.
Temporary Protection: Flea & Tick Defense Spray will provide good pest repellent protection; however, it will need to be reapplied every 2 to 3 days or as needed. It must also be reapplied if your pet gets wet. However, it is great choice for, say, a walk through the woods where there are a lot of pests, on a day hike, or a weekend camping trip.
And, of course, I also recommend keeping the Tick Stick on hand in case your beloved pet does pick up a one of these pests. Then you can remove it without harm to your best friend.
Remember: The higher the level of pest protection you use, the less likely your pet is to come home with pests!
Get These Incredible Pest Prevention Solutions Today!
Before you let your pets outside during insect season, make sure they are prepared with pest repellent products that really work!
I highly recommend the Herbal Repellent Collar, Spot On Topical Herbal Repellent, and Flea & Tick Defense to help shoo away pests, along with the Tick Stick for any ticks pets may accidentally pick up.
Remember that all the products can be used separately, but will work best when used together.
So, order yours today and don't forget about my lifetime guarantee (see below)!
If your pet is sensitive to essential oils, please consult your veterinarian prior to use/application.