What is the Best Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs?

The decision to use flea-control products is a weighty one. If your dog is plagued by these parasites (fleas or ticks) and you've decided you must use something, check out our tips for safer use.

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There is a great 2015 TED talk by Susan Little, DVM, PhD, DACVM, in which she posits that modern parasite preventatives are largely responsible for bringing dogs (and cats) into our homes over the past few decades. 

“The advances that the veterinary profession has made in achieving parasite control for pets has done more to support the human/animal bond – to really change at a fundamental level the way we interact with our pets – than anything since the rabies vaccine,” she says. Quick and easy prevention of fleas and ticks (which prevents zoonotic transmission of flea-borne and tick-borne diseases, as well as internal parasites such as the tapeworm) has enabled us to bring our pets not just into our homes but also onto our sofas and beds. 

“It’s because we’ve taken parasites out of the equation that we’re able to have that close relationship with them,” says Dr. Little, a veterinary parasitology professor at Oklahoma State University. 

Perhaps you have to be a certain age to appreciate this point. My own son, who recently turned 30, grew up with a dog on his bed; he’s never known a time when almost every dog had fleas. But I grew up with dogs who all had teeth that were worn flat from chewing their itchy flea bites by the time they were middle-aged. And those dogs all lived outside; the thought of inviting them into the house (much less our beds) makes me itch just to think about it. Fleas were as common as stars in the sky and likely as numerous.

Today’s owners may never have seen a seriously flea-infested dog (with or without tapeworms) – and just as people who have never seen a polio or tuberculosis victim may eschew vaccinations for those diseases, many people seem to regard any use of flea preventatives as dangerous and unnecessary. 

Ticks are also a very dangerous parasite to dogs and humans alike. Learn more about potentially fatal tick-borne diseases on dogs.

My generation, I guess, is the bridge. I am familiar with how fleas can sharply decrease the quality of life for a dog and cause secondary health conditions such as flea allergy dermatitis and infected “hot spots.” And in the age of social media, I’ve also seen Facebook groups populated by tens of thousands of dog owners who are certain that modern flea-preventative chemicals killed their dogs. While the numbers of dog deaths directly attributable to these products can’t possibly be as many as alleged, it’s clear that they do sometimes cause adverse health effects and even death.

What’s a responsible dog owner to do?

TAKE REASONABLE ACTION AGAINST FLEAS

A middle-ground, common-sense tactic is to use one of the modern-miracle flea-control products, but only when needed, and only as minimally as you can while still preventing fleas. If you’ve never seen a flea on your dog or in your home, don’t introduce these pesticides or medications for no reason! 

If, on the other hand, you’ve found fleas on your dog, or you just moved into a home with a carpet that’s literally hopping with fleas (the latter has happened to me more than once!), it makes sense to protect your dog as quickly as possible from the tiny blood-suckers. 

There are fewer than two dozen reputable flea-control products on the market and many more disreputable ones. It’s wise to familiarize yourself with the active ingredients in and potential side effects of these products, so you can be alert to any signs that they are working as they should, or causing adverse reactions that warrant further action to protect your dog.

Note: Any approach to a flea infestation will have the best chance of success if the dog’s entire environment is addressed. See this article for crucial steps in getting rid of an existing infestation: Getting Rid of Fleas in the House.

TYPES OF FLEA AND TICK PREVENTION PRODUCTS AVAILABLE

There are any number of tools at our disposal for controlling flea and tick populations, but beware! Each of them offers benefits and poses risks:

  • Pesticide-laden (flea-killing) soaps, shampoos, dips, rinses, sprays, and powders. These products were the flea treatments of my youth and are just as dated. These early-generation insecticides may have contained highly toxic carbamates such as carbaryl and propoxur and/or bioaccumulating organophosphates such as chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and tetrachlorvinphos. Many of these products still are sold, even though they are more toxic to animals and less effective at killing fleas than the newer-generation products. 
  • Pesticide-laden collars. The first plastic “flea collars” for dogs were coated with toxic, yet highly ineffective pesticides. Today, the material of the Seresto collar (originally introduced by Bayer, now owned by Elanco) is impregnated with pesticides (flumethrin and imidicloprid)that are slowly distributed over the dog’s skin over a period of months. 
  • Topical “spot-on” pesticides. These products are administered in a small volume of fluid that is dripped out of a tube into one or more spots on the dog’s back in the area of his shoulder blades. The active ingredients generally constitute a fraction of the volume; the oily carrier liquid helps the product spread over the surface of the dog’s skin. The active ingredients in these products are neurotoxins specific to adult parasites. Some products also contain insect growth regulators, which prevent flea larvae from developing into adults. 

These products are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some are available as over-the-counter products; some require a veterinary prescription.

  • Long-acting oral medications. These products are fed to the dog; the active ingredients spread systemically through the dog. When the target species (flea and/or tick) bites the dog, it ingests some of the active ingredient and dies. This parasite-killing action generally lasts about a month. These products are available by veterinary prescription only.

Oral medications are regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST FLEA TREATMENT FOR YOUR DOG

Of course, your veterinarian’s recommendation of a product that’s familiar to them is a good start. If your vet strongly promotes a particular product, ask why she likes that one for your dog over all the other possibilities. If she has a sound rationale, great! But take the time to examine the product and compare it to others; unless fleas are hopping all over the vet in the exam room, it won’t hurt to take a day so you can read up on the product she suggests, and possibly call back with any questions you have about other products. 

When considering your options, we also suggest:

  • Don’t buy inexpensive flea-control products from grocery stores or “big-box” retail chains. Low-cost products are associated with a disproportionate number of adverse health effects. We don’t recommend products from the following companies: Adams, Hartz, Sentry, Sergeants, or Zodiak.  
  • Keep it simple. While it may seem appealing to address as many parasites as possible with a single product, our bias is to go the other way – to treat your dog for only the parasites you know him to have (or those for which you have good evidence to support a suspicion of their presence). If, for example, your dog has fleas, but ticks are not present in your urban environment and you’re certain your dog does not have worms, treat him with something that’s just for fleas!

More ingredients are not necessarily better, despite what the pharmaceutical companies want you to think. When a pharmaceutical company’s patent on a new drug expires, other companies can create and sell generic versions of the same product, usually for less money. When a patent expiration draws close, their owners often add something to the original product, in an effort to create a new patent that will continue to earn money for the company in a protected market. 

This is the main reason that the pharmaceutical companies keep rolling out new products that address more parasites. In almost every case, they’ve added another pesticide, insect growth regulator, or flea-killing medication to an older product. 

The obvious problem from our view is that the more active ingredients a product contains, the more likely it is to have an adverse effect on your dog. So pick the simplest product that addresses your dog’s issue.

  • Keep track of any adverse reaction your dog has had to any topical or oral flea-control product. If your dog ever experienced diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, or any other reaction within a few days of treatment with a particular product, make a big note for yourself in your dog’s health records. Let your veterinarian know, too, so you both make sure you don’t give your dog any products that contain the same problematic active ingredient. 

If your dog has a bad reaction to another product whose active ingredient is in the same class of drugs as the one that caused his first adverse event, make sure you switch to a product with an active ingredient of another chemical class. 

Below, we’ve listed the active ingredients in each of the best-quality products available, along with descriptions of what they do.

  • Our bias is in favor of the Seresto collar over a spot-on pesticide, which we’d take over an oral drug. Why? Because if a dog seems to be having an adverse reaction, we can take the collar off and give him a series of baths in an effort to remove as much of the product as possible. The dog can be thoroughly washed if he’s had an adverse reaction after application of a topically applied product, too. 

For a further review on Seresto collars, read our article Are Seresto Flea and Tick Collars Harmful to Dogs?

In contrast, after a dog has digested an oral product, the full dose is working systemically in his body for a few weeks; there’s no mitigating his exposure to the medication.

That said, there are reasons that someone might choose an oral product over a topical one: 

  • You may not want to have contact with a topical product as you (or your kids) pet the dog. This could also be true in a multi-pet household where pets groom each other.
  • Dogs with longer coats often sport a “greasy spot” for several days after a topical product has been applied. This increases the concern of petting the dog and coming into contact with the pesticide.
  • Bathing or swimming soon after application may reduce the effectiveness of topicals.
  • Some ingredients used to kill ticks, such as permethrin, are toxic to cats. This can be a problem in a household that includes both, especially if they are friendly with each other. In that case, giving the dog an oral product would be safer for the cat.

HOW TO TREAT FLEAS ONCE YOU’VE SELECTED A PRODUCT

Here are more safety tips to observe after you’ve decided what product you’re going to use on your dog: 

  • Don’t leave any flea-control product within the reach of any dog. This goes double for chewable oral medications that contain flavoring agents (which make them more tempting to your dog.) A kitchen counter or dining room table is not a safe place; a motivated dog who has never counter-surfed before can be fatally poisoned by chewing up and consuming a topical product, or suffer serious adverse effects from eating several months’ worth of medication. 
  • Read all the label instructions for any product carefully before administering, especially the part about contraindications. 
  • If your dog’s weight puts him near a border for the next-higher dosage, we’d recommend using the lower-dosage product. If your dog is at the low end of the weight range, consider doing the math and splitting the chew or tablet to give your dog an effective dose that’s appropriate for her size. 
  • If you live in a place where a flea population is entrenched, keep your dog’s protection continuous while you use integrated pest management (IPM) to reduce the environmental population, indoors and outside, too. Management of fleas on pets must occur in conjunction with regular, thorough cleaning of pet resting areas indoors and out. Once fleas infest a home, total control will require a vigilant program that includes vacuuming, eliminating fleas on all the pets in the home, washing the dog’s bedding frequently, and treating outdoor areas where pets rest. 

Using a flea comb on your dog at regular intervals is a good way to monitor the flea population and help you decide when other control measures might be necessary. 

Short-Acting Oral Medications

For years, there was just one oral medication that could kill fleas on a dog very rapidly: Capstar. Its active ingredient (nitenpyram) was approved in 1990, so it’s since lost its patent protection, and now there are dozens of products containing nitenpyram available as an over-the-counter drug and sold under many names. 

When given orally as a tablet, nitenpyram gets rapidly absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream from his gastrointestinal tract. Fleas that are on the dog start dying within about 15 minutes of the product’s administration to the dog, with all the fleas on the dog dying in less than two hours. These products work fast, but only for about 24 hours; nitenpyram is eliminated in the dog’s urine within a day. It can be given daily, if needed.

Because they are so fast-acting and have such a short span of activity in the dog’s body, these medications are commonly used when a dog who is heavily flea-infested needs to be cleared of fleas fast – perhaps so he could be transported or kenneled without fear of introducing fleas into a previously flea-free environment. These products are also a good choice to eliminate fleas quickly, without leaving a pesticide on or in the dog’s body for weeks to come. Nitenpyram products can be given to puppies as young as 4 weeks old and as small as 2 pounds.

In 2020, Elanco introduced another product with a similar fast-acting, quick-clearing mode of action. Advantus comes in a soft chew and contains a different active ingredient – imidicloprid, which is more typically used in topical flea-killing products. Advantus can’t be given to puppies less than 10 weeks old  or less than 4 pounds. 

When we can choose between an older drug with a long record of safe use and a newer drug being used in a very new way, we recommend using the older drug. 

Active Ingredients in Flea-Control Products

Afoxolaner, Fluralaner, Lotilaner, and Sarolaner are all isoxazolines, the newest class of insecticides that are selectively toxic to insects (fleas) and acarines (mites and ticks) in a way that is not supposed to pose a risk to mammals.However, they have been associated with neurologic adverse reactions and are contraindicated for dogs who are prone to seizures.

Fipronil is a broad use insecticide first registered in 1996. Fleas die when they come into contact with it on the dog’s skin and coat; they don’t have to bite the dog.

Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid insecticide first registered for use for topical applications in1994; recently it was registered for oral use. Imidacloprid spreads over the skin and coat to kill fleas on contact.

Indoxacarb kills all stages of fleas, including eggs and larvae on contact.

Lufenuron, Pyriproxyfen, and (S) Methoprene are insect growth regulators (IGRs), a class of chemicals that do not kill fleas; they prevent flea eggs and larvae from developing.

Milbemycin oxime, Praziquantel, and Pyrantel are used to kill internal parasites. Milbemycin oxime kills a developing stage of the heartworm, as well as hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. Praziquantel is used to eliminate tapeworms, which infect dogs via the flea, an intermediate host. Pyrantel is used to eliminate roundworms and hookworms.

Moxidectin is absorbed through the skin into the subcutaneous fat and bloodstream; it kills hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, as well as a developing stage of heartworms; it also treats sarcoptic mange.

Permethrin kills fleas, tick, and lice and is said to repel mosquitoes and flies. Permethrin may be more likely to cause problems for small dogs and is overrepresented in adverse incidents. It is extremely toxic to cats and aquatic animals.

Spinosad is a natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects. It is a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D. Spinosad has been registered for use in pesticides since 1997.

OVER-THE-COUNTER TOPICAL FLEA-KILLING PRODUCTS

Product Name/MakerEffective AgainstActive Ingredient/sFrequency of AdministrationYear ApprovedMinimum Age and Weight
Activyl
Merck
FleasIndoxacarbMonthly20118 weeks, 4 lbs
Advantage II
Bayer
Fleas, liceImidacloprid, PyriproxyfenMonthly7 weeks, 3 lbs
Effitix Plus
Virbac
Fleas, ticks, lice, biting flies, mosquitoesFipronil, Permethrin, PyriproxyfenMonthly20158 weeks, 5 lbs
Frontline Gold
Merial Ltd.
Fleas, ticksFipronil, (S) Methoprene, PyriproxyfenMonthly20158 weeks, 5 lbs
Frontline Plus
Merial Ltd.
Fleas, ticks, liceFipronil, (S) MethopreneMonthly20008 weeks, 5 lbs
Frontline Shield
Merial Ltd.
Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, stable fliesFipronil, Permethrin,Monthly20209 weeks, 5 lbs
K9 Advantix II
Bayer
Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, biting flies, liceImidacloprid, Permethrin, PyriproxyfenMonthly20117 weeks, 4 lbs

PRESCRIPTION TOPICAL FLEA-KILLING PRODUCTS

Product Name/MakerEffective AgainstActive Ingredient/sFrequency of AdministrationYear ApprovedMinimum Age and Weight
Advantage Multi
Bayer
Fleas, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, sarcoptic mangeImidacloprid, MoxidectinMonthly20067 weeks, 3 lbs
Bravecto
Merck
Fleas, ticksFluralanerEvery 3 months20166 months, 4.4 lbs
Revolution
Zoetis
Fleas, ticks, heartworms, ear mites, sarcoptic mangeSelamectinMonthly20146 weeks, 5 lbs

PRESCRIPTION ORAL FLEA-CONTROL MEDICATIONS

*Not yet approved in the U.S. for control of these parasites, though veterinarians might suggest them as “off-label” treatments
1. Acuguard is the same product as Comfortis. Elanco sells Comfortis as “Acuguard” under the brand name Vethical in VCA veterinary hospitals.
2. Comboguard is the same product as Trifexs. Elanco sells Trifexis as “Comboguard” under the brand name Vethical in VCA veterinary hospitals.
Product Name/MakerEffective AgainstActive Ingredient/sFrequency of AdministrationYear ApprovedMinimum Age and Weight
AcuGuard (See Comfortis1)
Bravecto
Merck
Fleas, ticks, demodex*FluralanerUp to 12 weeks20146 months and 4.4 lbs
ComboGuard (See Trifexis2)
Comfortis
Elanco
FleasSpinosadMonthly200714 weeks and 3.3 lbs
Credelio
Elanco
Fleas, ticksLotilanerMonthly20188 weeks and 4.4 lbs
NexGard
Merial
Fleas, ticks, demodex*AfoxolanerMonthly20138 weeks and 4 lbs
Sentinel Flavor Tabs
Merck
Fleas, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipwormsLufenuron, Milbemycin oximeMonthly20116 weeks and 2 lbs
Sentinel Spectrum Chews
Merck
Fleas, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapewormsLufenuron, Milbemycin oxime, PraziquantelMonthly20116 weeks and 2 lbs
Simparica
Zoetis
Fleas, ticks, demodex*, scabies*, ear mites*SarolanerMonthly20166 months and 2.8 lbs
Simparica Trio
Zoetis
Fleas, ticks, heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, demodex*, scabies*, ear mites*Pyrantel, SarolanerMonthly20208 weeks and 2.8 lbs
Trifexis
Elanco
Fleas, heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipwormsMilbemycin oxime, SpinosadMonthly20118 weeks and 5 lbs
If Your Dog Has an Adverse Response, Report It

Animal drugs and pesticides are subjected to tests to establish their safety and efficacy. However, this evaluation process is typically conducted on a relatively small number of animals prior to being approved and marketed. As a result, there is potential for previously unobserved problems to emerge post-approval. Reports that are filed with the appropriate agency help act as an alert system.

An adverse event (AE) in animals is any unfavorable or unintended occurrence that happens during or after use of an animal drug or veterinary product or device. Suspected lack of efficacy and reactions by humans exposed to the product or treated animals also qualify as adverse events.

Side effects are secondary undesired effects that may occur when using a specific drug and have been shown to be associated with the product by scientific studies. Side effects are tracked and investigated extensively during clinical trials before entering the market. In contrast, adverse events are not consistent with applicable product information or characteristics of the drug.

Veterinary drugs are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. When a pet has an unexpected reaction to a veterinary drug, it is important to file an Adverse Drug Event (ADE) report. This report can be filed directly with the FDA by pet owners. For instructions on filing a report electronically, see bit.ly/WDJ_report_drug.

Topical products are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. These can be identified by the EPA Registration Number (sometimes written as EPA Reg. No.) printed on the label. Adverse events associated with these products, as well as other pesticides, are reported to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).

The NPIC’s electronic reporting system is restricted for use by qualified professionals, such as veterinarians or their staff. Pet owners can report an adverse effect by a pesticide on their pet by calling the NPIC directly at (800) 858-7378 and filing a report over the phone.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I have a big problem with these types of drugs/neurotoxins. Nexgard caused two of my labs to have seizures. Since I’ve stopped using these dangerous drugs on my dogs they have been fine. It would have been nice if you would have included in this article natural alternatives to flea and tick repellents, such as wonder side. Responsible pet parents would not be putting these dangerous chemicals on or in their precious pets, ever!

    • Thanks for this lead to the Wonder Side. Much appreciated! I’m getting disappointed in my new subscription to WDJ, as I agree that this article should have addressed alternatives to the pesticide-laden commercial options. I have seen several other articles here that are very outdated (which makes a difference if one is trying to compare foods for instance.) And many have incomplete text. Poor editing!

      • All 24 years of past articles in WDJ are available online. Some pre-date the time when the publisher started releasing each issue online and in print more or less simultaneously. Some of the oldest articles did not fare well when we changed web hosting platforms a few years ago. We have been correcting the articles and restoring the captions as we discover the damaged ones. Please feel free to comment on any that need attention and we will update them.

  2. This article was merely a compendium of products available, but, I did not see a real answer to the question asking “What is the Best Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs?. and as Sue mentioned, no suggestions for safer options.

    • I’m sorry that you didn’t find the answers you were looking for. Yes, the article was a compendium of products that are available. I have not been able to find a chart anywhere else that compared the active ingredients and actions of all the products that are available to consumers elsewhere and hoped it would be helpful. Many of us are exposed only to the products sold by our own veterinarians and unaware of alternatives that they could ask for.

      Regarding the headline word “Best”: When dealing with products that have known side effects, the word “best” is subjective and must be individualized. There is no perfect product that is safe and effective for ALL dogs. What’s best for my dog makes my son’s dog sick; what works best for that dog may not suit your dog at all. Our goal was to inform readers about the full array of products and their actions, including side effects, so they could compare what they are familiar with (or what their vets’ recommend) with other products.

      We did not include ALTERNATIVES to the commercial products that have test and safety data available. While there are owners who use products that contain herbs, essential oils, diatomaceous earth, and other more natural substances and claim that these products keep their dogs free of fleas or ticks, these are highly anecdotal. We’ve not seen any credible evidence that these products work as well as the commercial pesticides. They may not cause harm, but a lack of proven effectiveness is also an adverse effect.

      The fight against parasites needs to be individualized; blanket pronouncements are nonsensical. I know a search and rescue dog who has suffered from repeated Lyme infections from tick bites and is so highly sensitized to the spirochetes that cause Lyme disease, that she spikes a fever and gets achy all over (as judged by shifting lameness and an overall reluctance to move) within a day of a single tick bite. Given her operational status, where she is often used for multiple days in a row, searching for lost humans in remote mountainous country in Pennsylvania, her tick prevention must be the very strongest product on the market, most effective at repelling ticks. My dogs encounter ticks maybe a couple times a year. Many dogs are never taken to an area where there are ticks, not once in their whole lives. No product is equally appropriate for all of the dogs mentioned in these examples.

      We absolutely should have included a link to this past article about highly effective practices that can be employed in and around the house to help reduce or eliminate flea populations (and we will add the link to the piece): https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/care/flea-care/getting-rid-of-fleas-in-the-house/

  3. Have you heard of any products losing their effectiveness? There is a rumor going around here in Missouri that Frontline no longer works….I’m loathe to give oral medications but I don’t want to give ineffective topicals either.

    • We found that in the UK a few years ago, when it was pretty much just Fipronil as the active ingredient and presumably the patent ran out as more brands came to the market. They then brought in the new “improved” one. On the rare occasions I use them I do ring and ask the vets what they are finding effective locally (although on one occasion I saw a note tacked to their screen reminding everyone to push a certain brand because the practice was collecting loyalty points for them!)

  4. Does WDJ in any way receive compensation from any of the listed products/manufacturers (ad revenue, affiliate links, kick-backs, etc.)?

    • Well, we don’t carry any ads and never have. Regarding affiliate links: There is a statement at the top of this article indicating that we may earn a commission if a reader were to purchase a product for which we have provided a link. This is a VERY recent phenomenon, put into place in early 2022. However, as the editor of WDJ, I receive no information about what, if anything, the publisher may receive as a result of these links. As to “kick-backs, etc.” — I’m not sure why you’re being insulting, but no, neither the publisher nor I receive any remuneration or free product or anything else.

      If you read the text carefully, you will see that our aim is not to encourage everyone to use these products; it’s to give people information about the most effective products that are available to them, if their dogs need them and would benefit them. Personally, I use only a couple of these products, and VERY sparingly. But I’m fortunate to not live in an an area where ticks are a huge problem, and conduct constant surveillance for fleas, lest they get a foothold in my home. That’s largely how I can avoid having to use pesticides for fleas, too.

      • Nancy, Mr. Gray’s question was simply that, a question. Is it possible you’re being overly sensitive and reading insult where none was intended?

        It’s possible Mr. Gray is suspicious, but there’s no evidence either for against that interpretation in the working of his question. Your accusing him of being insulting, however, leaves little room for misreading.

      • I in no way intended to insult you, I am very sorry that it came across that way. My use of the word “kickback” is just because I am ignorant of the correct terms and I was simply trying to cover all possible legitimate business transactions that could occur in this scenario, not alluding to anything unscrupulous.

        I appreciate the information you provided and took note that you pointed out that some products contained known carcinogenetic components. It is always confusing to me why natural products seem to have a harder time showing up these types of lists, but it isn’t your fault. I wondered maybe if it was a budget issue where these smaller companies couldn’t afford to be featured on the premiere sites or something. Seems it is more related to lack of objective data, which is probably a systematic issue with how data is deemed “objective” and who funds the organizations that regulate those things, but that certainly isn’t your fault.

        No hard feelings.

        • Thanks for the explanation. Journalists are touchy about words like “kickback”! And honestly, I feel a little protective of our publisher. Belvoir Media Group has been publishing advertising-free, consumer-oriented periodicals for more than 40 years. They have a proud history of NOT taking *squat* from anyone. I’ve had offers of flights, hotels, products, and more from many companies who are trying to promote their stuff, and it ALL gets turned down (I’ve accepted a few dinner invites after our publisher has paid my way somewhere, that’s it). We’re especially careful when it comes to BIG companies: pharma, food, etc.

          That said: I will repeat a bit of what I said earlier: Lack of efficacy is also an adverse effect. Essential oils and such have some anecdotal evidence behind them, and if you-all would like to see more about these sorts of remedies, I’m happy to round up more information about them. But without data, studies, research, trials — it’s anecdotal. And when it comes down to protecting my dogs from deadly tick-borne diseases, I’m personally not going to fool around with essential oils. My feeling is that these sorts of remedies help only in situations where no help is needed anyway, like in areas without ticks! But if anyone out there has spectacular results with a non-pesticide product in tick-infested areas with dogs who are actually taken out into these areas, please let me know! Or even just *good* results!

          • Makes sense. I personally would love to have some more in-depth information about some of the natural products (actual data would be great).

            That being said, my understanding of the “natural way” is that it isn’t as effective as the other products, but that it has been “determined” that the risk of adverse effects of the chemicals is worse than the risk of tick borne illness (either in the chance it occurs or the severity of an occurrence). From what I gather, the essential oils do very little (maybe even nothing) to prevent tick borne illness, but they reduce the number of ticks your dog comes into contact with, so it indirectly helps. That is often combined with the idea that a healthy dog (probably raw fed in this context) is actually quite resistant to tick borne illness (much much more so than people are).

            Nothing is ever certain, and I always subscribe to the notion that you shouldn’t view it as “which option best” but instead “which option is less worse”. The reality is that no matter what choice you make, they all come with risk; you just get to pick your poison. As such, it is extremely important that everyone make their own choices in these matters.

  5. You may be interested in information about the Seresto collars. (Healthy pets, Dr. Karen Becker) So far there have been 1,698 pet deaths directly related to the use of this flea/tick collar. All that can be said is ‘If it kills something , it can’t be 100% safe’ Even organic, natural products can be dangerous. I tell customers poison ivy is organic and all natural, but we don’t eat it or rub it on our skin.

  6. My dog got a chemical burn from a topical. Not all adverse reactions from topicals can be washed off. My vet no longer recommends topicals due to how common chemical burns were in their office.

  7. HI. I have a new puppy and have been a subscriber for over 20 years. I was hoping to find some new updated information about natural, flea and tick alternatives. I know my vet is pressuring me to use the chemicals, but I don’t want to. Will you do an updated article on the newest alternatives available? Thank you.

  8. THANK YOU to the readers who recommended Wondercide…I hate the idea of using chemicals on or in my dogs’ systems. The yard spray is top notch and does the job well. The rosemary spray is awesome and works very well!

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