4 Natural Flea & Tick Repellent Recipes For Your Dog

Natural Tick Repellent For Dogs

Nobody wants their dog to get fleas. Ticks are no picnic either. Some of us have dogs with pretty severe flea allergies, which complicates matters even more. 

Unfortunately, conventional flea and tick products are really just chemical pesticides.

You might be thinking, “Well, OK, they’re chemicals. But can they really be that bad? After all, I get these from my vet” ...

… Well, let’s take a look at 4 common active ingredients found in pharmaceutical flea and tick products and you can decide how you feel about their safety.

4 Nasty Ingredients Found In Flea & Tick Products

You’ve probably been told that common flea & tick preventatives like chewables, sprays and spot ons are safe for your dog. But there is more and more evidence that ingredients in these products can do more harm than good.

Watch for these common ones.

1. Fipronil

Dr Deva Khalsa VMD, citing the EPA’s Pesticide Division, says that fipronil enters the body and can be contained in the fat, organs, urine and feces of dogs.

Plus, according to Khalsa, lab tests have shown that with long-term exposure at low doses, fipronil has the potential to cause:

  • nervous system and thyroid toxicity
  • thyroid cancer
  • altered thyroid hormone levels
  • liver toxicity
  • kidney damage
  • convulsions
  • whining
  • barking or crying
  • loss of appetite
  • locomotor difficulty
  • reduced fertility
  • fetus mortality
  • smaller offspring
  • loss of hair
  • moist inflammation
  • chemical burn
  • itching

Freaked out yet? Well, we’re not done.

When exposed to light, fipronil breaks down into a molecule called fipronil-desulfinyl which, according to the EPA, is ten times more toxic than the fipronil itself. This means you don’t want to put the plastic vials of fipronil products in the sun, don’t let your dog bake in the sun after application and avoid the sun for short-haired dogs using fipronil products.

Products containing fipronil: Frontline Plus, PetArmor, Sentry and FiproGuard

RELATED: Fipronil is the main ingredient in Frontline. And its adverse events are well reported.

2. Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids

Many people think the pyrethrins (naturally occurring compounds from the chrysanthemum plant) and pyrethroids (the synthetic counterpart) are less hazardous than fipronil. Sadly, that is not the case.

The Center for Public Integrity found that from 2002 through 2007 at least 1,600 pet deaths from pyrethroid spot-on treatments were reported to the EPA.

That’s nearly double the number of reported fatalities linked to flea and tick products without pyrethroids. CPI’s project was based on an analysis of 90,000 adverse reaction reports. Keep in mind that many adverse reactions are not reported so the actual number could be much higher, according to Khalsa.

Pyrethroid spot-on products also accounted for more than half of the major pesticide pet reactions, including brain damage, heart attacks and seizures.

In addition:

  • An EPA survey of poison control centers found pyrethrins cause more insecticide poisoning incidents than any other class of insecticides except the organophosphates. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.
  • Pyrethrins can trigger life-threatening allergic responses including heart failure and severe asthma, brain damage and seizures.
  • Pyrethrins can cause anemia and disrupt the normal functioning of sex hormones.
  • The EPA classifies pyrethrins as “likely to be human carcinogens” because they cause thyroid tumors in laboratory tests. Farmers who use pyrethrins have an increased risk of developing leukemia.

Products containing pyrethrins and pyrethroids like permethrin, pyriproxyfen and etofenprox: BioSpot Active Spot-on, Defend EXspot Treatment, Zodiac FleaTrol Spot On and K9 Advantix II

RELATED: What about those popular pyrethroid bandanas? Are they safe? Here’s more on that.

3. Imidacloprid

Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide found in flea and tick products that acts as an insect neurotoxin and belongs to a class of chemicals called the neonicotinoids, says Khalsa.

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides acting on the central nervous system of insects with lower toxicity to mammals.

In lab studies, imidacloprid has been found to cause thyroid lesions and liver toxicity, increase cholesterol levels (which is commonly seen in the bloodwork of hypothyroid dogs), and has the potential to damage the kidneys, liver, thyroid, heart, lungs, spleen, adrenal, brain and gonads.

Not to mention, after its introduction in 1994, researchers found an increase in the frequency of birth defects when it was tested on rats, mice and dogs.

Products containing imidacloprid: Advantage II, Seresto Flea and Tick Collar and K9 Advantix II

4. Amitraz

Amitraz is used in flea and tick collars.

It kills ticks by interfering with their nervous systems and can be deadly to dogs who eat their tick collar!

Other side effects include low blood pressure, decreased body temperature, high blood glucose, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea or seizures.

Amitraz has also been classified as a potential carcinogen.

Products containing amitraz: flea and tick collars like Preventic.

Not a real pretty picture, is it?

So, is our only option to let our beloved dogs suffer with the terrible discomfort of a flea infestation or the disease risks that ticks bring?

Fortunately, no. There are options…

Keep Your Dog Healthy To Prevent Fleas & Ticks

A big holistic motto is: healthy dogs attract less fleas. While that may be frustrating when you’re in the middle of a serious flea infestation, it’s a good place to start when you’re not in the thick of things. Here are some ways to get there, according to Dr Khalsa:

  • Feed a raw, whole foods, species-appropriate diet.
  • Avoid chemicals, including pesticides, fertilizers and toxic cleaners.
  • Minimize vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Give finely diced fresh organic garlic every day. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before adding it to your dog’s meal. A large dog can eat two decent-sized cloves of garlic daily while a small dog can have one small clove. Also, use a non-detergent shampoo like a Castile soap-based dog shampoo so that you don’t strip the garlic essence out of his fur.
  • For dogs who are more at risk for fleas and ticks because of their environment, try amber collars, electromagnetic tags, spray your dog’s underside lightly with a natural protective spray or sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth into your dog’s coat.

RELATED: There are several different things you can use diatomaceous earth for. There are 5 right here.

Natural Flea And Tick Repellent Recipes

Essential oils can often come to the rescue when it comes to repelling fleas and ticks. The two kinds of insects are repelled by different oils, so if your dog needs protection against both, use one of the following blends in the morning and the other in the afternoon to avoid over-application.

Application frequency depends on how healthy your dog is. Extremely healthy dogs eating a natural raw diet may only need an application once a week.

These essential oil recipes are from Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils and Hydrosols with Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell.

Flea Free Essential Oil Blend

  • 1 ½ oz base oil such as hazelnut or sweet almond
  • 4 drops clary sage essential oil
  • 1 drop citronella essential oil
  • 7 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 3 drops lemon essential oil

Blend all oils and store in a dark glass dropper bottle. Apply 2 to 4 drops topically to the neck, chest, legs and base of tail. You can also add the drops to a bandana or cotton collar.

Flea Free Spritz

  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
  • ½ oz grain alcohol or vodka
  • 1 tsp sulfated castor oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit seed extract
  • 7 oz distilled or spring water
  • 4 drops clary sage essential oil
  • 1 drop citronella essential oil
  • 7 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 3 drops lemon essential oil

Blend the ingredients and shake well before use.

This will make 8 oz of spritz. Store in a dark or opaque glass spritz bottle. A spritz makes it easy to apply the repellent but some dogs don’t like the sound of the bottle. In this case, you may need to apply the formula with your hands.

Goodbye Tick Spritz

  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
  • ½ oz grain alcohol or vodka
  • 1 tsp sulfated castor oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit seed extract
  • 7 oz distilled or spring water
  • 2 drops geranium essential oil
  • 2 drops rosewood essential oil
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops myrrh essential oil
  • 2 drops opoponax essential oil
  • 1 drop bay leaf essential oil

Blend the ingredients and shake well before use. This will make 8 oz of spritz. Store in a dark or opaque glass spritz bottle. Spray and apply to your dog using your hands before walks in long grass or wooded areas.

Goodbye Ticks Essential Oil Blend

  • 1 ½ oz base oil such as hazelnut or sweet almond
  • 2 drops geranium essential oil
  • 2 drops rosewood essential oil
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops myrrh essential oil
  • 2 drops opoponax essential oil
  • 1 drop bay leaf essential oil

Blend all oils and store in a dark glass dropper bottle. Apply 2 to 4 drops topically to the neck, chest, legs and base of tail. You can also add the drops to a bandana or cotton collar.

Make The Switch To Natural Flea & Tick Products!

Chemical flea and tick products really are dangerous. But there are natural alternatives

It all really starts with a healthy dog eating what he’s supposed to be eating – a raw, species-appropriate diet.

Beyond that, there are many natural solutions that with a little experimentation can help keep your dog pest-free.

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