Warmer weather means many dogs and their owners are spending more time outside. But that extra time playing outdoors or exploring the woods can mean more exposure to fleas and ticks.
While there are numerous commercial products marketed to kill fleas and ticks, most contain chemical pesticides — none of which are 100 percent safe.
Traditional chemical-based flea and tick products are labeled as “safe for pets,” yet they often come with warnings that they aren’t safe for humans. We’re instructed to wash our hands immediately after coming in contact with these products, which raises the question about long-term health and safety — both for our dogs and us!
If you are at all concerned about applying pesticides or insecticides to control ticks and fleas on your dog, there are chemical-free alternatives.
Natural Pest Control for Dogs
More and more natural repellents are now available as an alternative to chemical-based oral tablets, topical treatments or collars.
The best all-natural pest repellants incorporate essential oils to repel or kill fleas and ticks. Some of our favorite brands are Wondercide and Vet’s Best. Proper dilution of the essential oil is a must in order to avoid overwhelming various systems of the body including the olfactory system and integumentary system where skin irritation may result, which is why we recommend using a trusted, research-based source that never contains more than 6 percent oil.
Remember, essential-oil based products are only as effective as those who use them. To be most beneficial, they require a daily 60-second application. And if your dog loves water, be prepared to reapply.
The Best Essential Oils For Flea and Tick Protection
Products that contain cedar oil are rich in thujone, a terpenoid that helps repel and kill insects. Other all-natural products may rely on the terpenoid eugenol, such as those derived from clove and cinnamon, or others not mentioned here. Having alternative products that use different terpenoids can be helpful especially for those animals that have known environmental allergens to different plants.
Terpenes are the organic, natural compounds that can be found in plants and are responsible for the unique and sometimes strong aromas they contain. These terpenes can have impressive insect repellent properties. In fact, they work so well, you can even use them on yourself!
How to Apply Natural Repellant
To apply, spray or wipe evenly on your dog’s body, going against the lay of the fur and making sure to include the underbelly and areas under the arms and legs. Be careful when applying near the face, especially if using a spray-type product.
Instead, apply to your hands and then quickly rub the ears, under the neck and between the eyes before it dries. Never spray or wipe anything near the nasal cavity or eyes as irritation can occur. There’s no need to “rub in” the product—just spray or wipe on and allow to dry.
If a tick is found on your dog while using an all-natural product, it may mean there was an issue with application. The best way to safeguard against ticks is to do a daily check during tick season. If you find a tick crawling, remove it. If, however, you find a tick has bitten and taken hold, you can apply your all-natural spray or wipe and effectively kill the tick by spraying the product on the tick and giving it 30-seconds to die, before you easily remove it.
Prevent Pests from the Inside Out
In addition to external treatment methods such as sprays or wipes, you can also take an internal approach to preventing fleas and ticks on your dog. Garlic, when ingested in the right amount, can help boost your dog’s immune system and can serve as a natural tick and flea repellant. For example, a 50-pound dog can consume up to a half clove per day.
As always, a healthy, minimally processed diet will help support your dog’s immune system — making him a less attractive host for ticks and fleas.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon or perceived as specific medical or veterinary advice.
The points of view expressed above are those of our clinical nutritionist and supported by science, her education and experience. However, we recognize there may be different points of view or opinions on some aspect or even the premise of this article. Our goal at Bow Wow Labs is to provide the best, clearest, and most helpful information possible to help keep your dog happy, healthy and safe.
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