Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Flea, Tick, Heartworm, Parasite Prevention for Dogs, Cats – What You Should Know Before Putting Your Dog, Cat on Chemical, Pesticide-Based Preventatives and Treatments

In this article:
  • Active Ingredients in Veterinarian Prescribed or Pet-Store Insect, Parasite Preventatives and Treatments;
  • Why Would a Veterinarian Prescribe Something That was Not Good For Your Dog, Cat;
  • What the EPA is Saying About Theses Products;
  • Your Dog’s, Cat’s Best Defence;
  • Why The Life Span of Our Dogs and Cats Has Declined Rather Than Increased Since the 1950’s;
  • Overuse, Parasite Acquired Immunity and Loss of Efficacy;
  • Typical Pesticides Used, Side Effects and Cautions;
  • Do Your Own Research and If Your Risk Assessment Says You Must Use Chemical-Based Preventatives Take Appropriate Action to Offset The Toxins
  • DIY Alternate Preventatives and Treatments - Natural, Herbal

Important questions to consider….
  • Should you use conventional chemical-based oral and/or topical preventatives and treatments obtained from your veterinarian or pet store, or;
  • Should you adopt a holistic approach?
  • If you do choose to use chemical-based preventatives should you be doing something to offset- the harm done to your dog’s, cat's system by the chemicals?
  • And if so, what can you do?
The option you choose can affect your companion animal’s health in many ways

Before you decide to put your dog or cat on any type of commercially manufactured flea, tick heartworm, mange or other parasite prevention there are some things you should consider...

Active Ingredients in Veterinarian Prescribed or Pet-Store Insect, Parasite Preventatives and Treatments

The active ingredients in chemical-based preventatives and treatments are strong pesticides.  While these products are marketed and sold to keep your dog, cat free of parasites (i.e. heartworm, fleas, ticks and works) and related diseases (i.e. lime disease from ticks, heartworm from mosquito) the active ingredients in these products can do more harm than good..

Conventional commercially manufactured parasite/insect preventatives - off-the-shelf or veterinarian-prescribed, include a warning not to touch the product with your bare hands and/or to wash your hands/skin immediately after contact.

If you take a second to consider the warning it should trouble you that the substance that is intended to remain on your dog’s, cat's skin/fur or be orally ingested by your dog/cat is not safe for you to touch. Unfortunately the majority of commercially produced products (oral and topical preventatives) - designed to protect your dog from fleas, ticks, heartworm, worms and other parasites, contain powerful chemical-based pesticides and other toxic / carcinogenic ingredients. Sure these chemicals kill parasites, but the problem is they also put your dog’s and cat's health at grave risk.

Even if the remedy is not ingested but instead applied topically, the toxins present in the product are still entering your dog’s body. Toxic substances pass through the skin and into the bloodstream, so at best you are increasing your dog’s toxic load, endangering their immune system and at worst you could be triggering severe health issues. 

Pet stores and many veterinarians sell conventional synthetic chemical-based products to 'control' fleas, ticks, and parasites. All conventional synthetic chemical based preventatives pose an immediate and ongoing threat to the health of your companion animal. Not only are the chemical-based active ingredients in these products health threatening, but as well many of the other ingredients (i.e. artificial colors, foaming agents, suspension agents, etc. are known to cause respiratory problems, hair loss, skin irritation, tremors, vomiting, permanent nerve damage, liver failure, cancer and death.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 65% of adverse drug reactions and 48% of all reported deaths resulting from drug reactions are caused by heartworm preventatives.

Examples of Spot-on Flea, Tick Preventatives

  • Topical Interventions:
    • Flea Collars;
    • Direct Spray-on Applications for Dogs and Cat;
    • Topically Applied Drops (also known as ‘spot on’);
    • Shampoo;
    • Household Carpet, Upholstery and Yard Sprays.
  • Ingested Interventions:
    • Pills, Tablets, Injections.
Examples of Heartworm Preventatives

You also need to understand that just because a product is labelled as ‘all natural’ does not mean that the product is safe.  All natural is NOT a regulated term. So you have to read the ingredients and verify that the ingredients are herbal, homeopathic, and/or 100% derived from natural sources such as neem oil, real lemon, other plant extracts, does not contain chemical based preservatives and additives. 

Examples of Flea and Tick Collars

This presents a confusing situation at best as you are purchasing these products not to harm your dog, but instead to protect your dog. If for example, you reside in an area where heart worm is virulent you may have to put your dog on chemical based preventative. But if the area you live-in has a relatively low incidence of infection you may decide it is better to use natural-based preventions - either topical or ingested or a combination of both.

To truly protect your dog’s health you need to do a little homework…

Why Would a Veterinarian Prescribe Something That was Not Good For Your Dog, Cat

Not out of intention to harm your dog or cat – that is for sure, but you need to understand that…

Just as with Modern Medicine for Humans, practitioners of conventional modern veterinary medicine study and train to:
  • Understand and expertly perform standard and emergency medicine;
    • Modern medicine is designed to address illness and disease post development;
    • Modern Medicine is designed to react to and treat acquired conditions, it is not designed to strategically enable and maintain overall health and well being. 
  • They study modern-day medicines (most of which are chemical-based) are used to treat a condition;
  • They do not study the components of that medicine, its active ingredients and possible hazards - short and long term, of those ingredients on the body;
  • They do not study how to naturally treat the condition and build up immunity from the inside out using, diet/nutrition and alternate, natural preventatives, and;
  • Just as with veterinarian prescribed dog food, manufacturers of the product (in this case insect and parasite preventatives and treatments) provide course material to the University Veterinary Sciences course.
  • The end result is that the majority of veterinarian students do not have the opportunity - during their standard course, to study objective non-bias data, results and alternate methods.

Examples of Flea and Tick Shampoo

In addition, once the student becomes a veterinarian the big pharmaceutical companies (i.e. Pfizer) aggressively and expertly market their products to veterinarians. The marketing campaigns base their 'facts' on skewed data, incomplete reporting (including side effects, testing results, comparisons and alternatives). Unfortunately the pharmaceutical companies’ objective is not the health of your pet; it is instead their desire for profit. 

Many of the veterinarians pushing these products on their clients are truly not aware of the truth about these products - the short and long-term deleterious side effects (immune system suppression, organ failure, cancer, etc.). And yes, true veterinarians do make money off of the vending, and protocol around sales of insect and parasite prevention and treatment products.

Examples Carpet and Upholstery Spray/Bomb
Carpet and Upholstery Treatments to Kill Fleas and Ticks

What the EPA is Saying 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing a series of actions to increase the safety of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for cats and dogs. Immediately, EPA will begin reviewing labels and determining which ones need stronger and clearer labeling statements. EPA will also develop more stringent testing and evaluation requirements for both existing and new products. EPA expects these steps will help prevent adverse reactions from pet spot-on products.

EPA is coordinating with Health Canada and with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine on these actions. Canada identified similar concerns with incidents being reported from the use of spot-on products. The two countries have very similar products registered and some of the same registrants, and we often work together on review of data submissions. Some flea and tick products are drugs that are regulated by the FDA. We are collaborating with FDA as well because FDA regulates some similar products and it made sense for EPA to learn about FDA's processes and learn from its experience in post-market surveillance of incidents associated with animal drugs”

You can read more here.

Your Dog’s, Cat’s Best Defence

Your dog’s, cat’s best defence against insects and parasites is a strong immune system supported by a species appropriate diet.

Why The Life Span of Our Dogs and Cats Has Declined Rather Than Increased Since the 1950’s

Statistics recorded by veterinary organizations from the 1950's up to present day are very telling... 
  • The life-span of a companion dog in North America is now half of what it was in the 1950's;
  • In the 1950's the average life-span of a golden retriever was 15 to 16 years, today the average is in the range of 8 to12 years;
  • In 2005, 50% of older dogs died from cancer, and the number is on the rise.
This increase in cancer has a direct correlation to:
All of these substances contributes to the creation of an ever-present toxic load on the dog’s system;
  • On a daily basis a dog may ingest, have surface contact with or inhale many toxins;
  • Over time toxins build-up in a dog’s system - in order to process and eliminate the toxins the dog’s liver and kidney must work over-time;
  • The toxins also:
    •  Interfere with the endocrine system;
    • Destroy the natural healthy balance of the blood PH level, etc.
  • And as the load becomes too large to process:
    • The toxins continue to build, and
    • The body’s organs begin to wear out;
    • The immune system becomes compromised;
  • This process of burden and wear occurs quicker in most dogs than in a human as an adult dog is typically smaller than an adult human - their organs are smaller too!
As a dog’s system becomes burdened the dog may develop chronic health issues, for example skin and coat problems, ear infections, eye and nose problems (runny eyes/nose), intermittent diarrhea or vomiting. Eventually when the dogs system is no longer able to process/remove any of the toxic load more serious health issues develop (for example fatty tumours);

In addition to all of the above: 
  • Pharmaceutical companies aggressively market veterinarians to over-inoculate on an annual basis and add new and unnecessary inoculations. 
  • Inoculations contain toxins and immune system suppressors. 
  • While the immune system is suppressed the dog/cat is at an increased risk of acquiring disease, illness and parasites.
This series of factors – created by mankind, and foisted upon our companion animals - produced a great and irresistible opportunity for both pesticide and pharmaceutical companies to make huge profits at the expense of our animal's health.

Overuse, Parasite Acquired Immunity and Loss of Efficacy 

Another very important aspect to consider - the synthetic compounds commonly used in the off-the-shelf flea collars, sprays and drops have a tendency to lose their efficacy after continued use - the fleas develop immunity to the chemical compounds. So, your dog can end up exposed to these harsh chemicals without any benefit!

Typical Pesticides Used, Side Effects and Cautions

The following chart provides some examples of the synthetic compounds typically found in off-the-shelf and veterinarian prescribed parasite preventative medications - topical and oral.

Use great caution when applying any of these substances topically on dogs and cats with broken or irritated skin. 

You will notice in the cautions column of the table below that many of these substances/products should not be used on sick, aging, underweight dogs or cats, dogs on medication etc. The main reason is that all of these substances listed in the table below do compromise your dog’s and cat's immune system. For a dog or cat that already has a depressed immune system the additional toxic load of these pesticides can be disastrous in the short and long term.

Used In
Active Ingredient Target Side Effects Cautions
Proventic Amitraz Ticks, Mange, Scabies Can cause high blood sugar (hypoglycemia), low blood pressure (hypotension), low body temperature (hypothermia), sedation Commonly used in mange dips and tick collars. Do not use on dogs under 12 weeks of age, do not use on aged, sick, medicated, pregnant or nursing dogs
Frontline Arylheterocycles (most common - Fipronil) Fleas, Ticks Can cause irritation - I was unable to find details on what was meant by ‘irritation’…i.e. skin irritation? Do not use on dogs under 8 weeks of age, sick, medicated or aged dogs
Vectra Dinotefuran Fleas Can cause immune system toxicity. Do not use on debilitated, aged, medicated, pregnant or nursing dogs, or dogs known to be sensitive to pesticides, aged, sick, pregnant or nursing
Program, Preventic IGRs
(methoprene, fenoxycarb, pyriproxyfen)
(lufenuron, diflubenzuron)
Fleas Can cause vomitting, diarrhea Read the label - age of puppies products can be used on varies, do not use on aged, sick , medicated, pregnant or nursing dogs
Advantage II Imidacloprid
Can cause drooling, skin irritation and may cause miscarriages and skeletal deformities. Do not use on dogs that are: aged, nursing or pregnant, sick or under 7 weeks of age.
Heartguard, Ivermectin Heartworm, Neurotoxicity - depression of the nervous system followed by ataxia. Dogs with defects in P-glycoprotien can suffer severe poisoning Most Collies cannot tolerate this substance and should not be given meds that include Ivermectin. Do not use on dogs under 6 weeks of age, aged, sick, medicated or underweight
Interceptor, Nexgard
Milbemycin oxime Roundworms, Hookworms
Can cause stupor, tremor and ataxia Not to be used on Collies or other herding breeds. Often used in products that include Ivermectin. Check the label of the specific product for puppy age restriction. Do not use on breeding, pregnant dogs or dogs with epilepsy
Capstar Nitenpyram Blow Flies, Fleas, Maggots Can cause Lethargy/depression, vomiting, itching, decreased appetite, diarrhea, hyperactivity, lack of coordination, trembling, seizures, panting, allergic reactions including hives, vocalization, salivation, fever, and nervousness Should not be used on pregnant and nursing dogs
Various Products Pyrantel pamoate Roundworms, Hookworms
Can cause facial swelling, hives, scratching, sudden diarrhea, vomiting, shock, seizures, pale gums, cold limbs, or coma.
Usually used in combination with Ivermectin
Bio Spot Flea and Tick Spray or Spot on Flea Control Pyrethrins

Fleas, Ticks, Lice, Mites, Mosquito
Can cause tremors, depression, convulsions, death
Do not use on dogs that are aged, sick, medicated, pregnant or nursing.  Do not use spray on puppies under 12 weeks of age, do not use oral tablets on dogs under 6 months of age
K9 advantix II Pyrethroids

Fleas and Ticks
Can cause drooling, tremors, vomiting, seizures
Do not use on dogs that are: aged, nursing or pregnant, sick or under 7 weeks of age.
Various Products Praziquantel Tapeworms
Can cause drooling, sudden diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, staggering, vomiting

Revolution Selemectin Heartworm, Fleas, Mange, Mites, Ticks, Parasites
Can cause hair loss
One of my dogs and one of my cats had severe/chronic hair loss resulting from use of Revolution.
Do not use on puppies under 6 weeks of age
Spinosad Fleas
Can cause loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting
Do not use on pregnant dogs or dogs with epilepsy, dogs under 14 weeks of age

There are many natural, herbal, homeopathic treatments and remedies that you can use in lieu of the chemical-based options. When used in tandem with a truly good diet the need for chemical-based remedies and treatments is greatly reduced…
  • A healthy dog is much less attractive to parasites and insects;
  • A healthy dog’s natural system is much better equipped to fight-off any parasites.

Do Your Own Research and If Your Risk Assessment Says You Must Use Chemical-Based Preventatives Take Appropriate Action to Offset The Toxins

Do your own quick risk assessment...
This article will take you through the risk assessment for heartworm.
  • Then if you decide it is best to put your dog on heartworm, off-set the damaging effects of the toxic chemicals in the heartworm preventative by:
  • Feeding species appropriate food, and;
  • Augmenting your dog’s daily diet as indicated in the article.

For  fleas, ticks, worms etc. you should take the same approach – if risk assessment indicates you have no choice but to go with chemical-based rather than natural interventions, off-set the damaging effects of the toxic chemicals in the preventative by:

Alternate Preventatives and Treatments - Natural, Herbal, Homeopathic

The best approach is a holistic approach…

Step One - Boost Your Dog’s, Cat’s Immune System and Clear out Toxins
This helps your dog, cat naturally fend-off parasites;
Step Two - Make your Dog’s, Cat’s Skin and Blood Less Tasty To Insects and Parasites
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – benefits and dosage;
Fresh Garlic - benefits, preparation and dosage;
Fresh Lemon - benefits, preparation and dosage.

Step Three - Use all Natural Products for Prevention and Treatment
  • Lemon – A Safe, Natural Mosquito Repellent for Dogs – read here;
  •  DIY Natural, Herbal, Homeopathic Flea, Tick, Mosquito Spot-On and Collar Drops for Dogs and Cats - read here. 
  • DIY Natural, Herbal, Homeopathic Flea, Tick, Mosquito Repellent Sprays, Rubs, Dips for Dogs and Cats - read here.

Holistic Support

Holistic Wellness Services and Holistic Behaviorist Services 

Holistic Wellness and Behaviorist Services

Do you need holistic advice to support your companion animal's health and well being? Become a client. Book your consultation. My professional holistic nutrition, wellness and behavioral services are available to you:
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Menu of Holistic Wellness Services for Dogs and Cats πŸ•πŸˆ
For more information go here. 
✅  Maintain Health, and;
✅  Address Health Issues and Conditions:
✓ Treatment and Remedy 
 Pre-Surgery holistic support protocols
 Post-Surgery holistic healing protocols
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 Natural Insect and Parasite Prevention
 Natural Treatment for Insect, Parasite Infestation, Co-Infection, Disease
✅  Custom Designed Whole Food Diets - raw or gently cooked, and;
✅  Advice and Recommendation: 
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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld 

1 comment:

Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats