What do the birds and the bees have to do with the ticks and the fleas on your pets?

When it comes to flea and tick preventatives there are some you absolutely must avoid! Others you need to avoid if at all possible. The safest ones you need to use daily! Here they are.

If you're reading my blog you are probably the type of person who is also concerned about the declining honey bee population. I am too!  I want to keep the fleas andticks off my pets as much as I want to protect the bees and the environment.  Here are my suggestions.  

First, my do not use list:

1.  Do not use any of the products you see in this article from NBC TV

2. Do not use any neonicotinoid (or neonicotinoid-like) compounds on your pets or around your house.  Advantage is a topical flea/tick preventive made by Bayer and contains a neonicotinoid chemical.  Another common chemical used around houses is the pesticide that kills termites.  Neonicotinoids are implicated in the declining  honey bee populations.

Second, my must do every day list:

1.  Get a flea comb and use it every day on every pet in your house.  You will be removing fleas on a daily basis and bonding with your pets.  You may also stumble upon something else about your pet that should be checked out while combing.

2.  If you have fleas then you need to vacuum every day, too.  Be sure to empty the vacuum cleaner bag or bin after every use.

Third, my use with care list:

1.  For tick prevention on dogs my favorite product is a cedar oil spray called Evolv (there are similar products but read the labels carefully or call the company if you have questions before using them on your dogs).  I strongly encourage you to use all sprays with caution.  It's smart to "patch-test" a small area of your dog's hair/skin for a few times (3 times over 10 days if no adverse reactions then you may be able to use more widely).  You can patch-test a small area by spraying some of the oil on a small cloth and wiping that area over your dog.  Observe your dog for any type of reactions before reapplying a few days later.  Do not reapply if you see any reactions.

1a.  I recommend cats stay inside and therefore should not need tick preventatives.  If you let your cats outside, I suggest a cat fence with a complete enclosure such as the one in the video.  I mean, afterall, if you're gonna go out, you might as well go ALL out, right?  (I don't know the woman in the video, I just love the enclosure.) This will prevent your cats from hunting the threatened songbird populations as well as protect your cats from raptors.  It is a curious observation that cats who do go outside don't seem to collect ticks the same way dogs do.  Maybe they groom themselves so effectively they can remove the ticks before we find them.  But, we do know fleas love cats, so don't forget to flea comb all of your cats every day during flea season!

2.  Dog beds stuffed with cedar chips and or neem bark.

3.  A neem spritzer can be used on alternate weeks from the cedar oil spray.  You should test it the same way you test the cedar oil.  You should only need to apply either of these 2-3 times a week at the most!  I suggest spraying your dog before going on walks where he may encounter tall grass or ticks.  Avoid directly spraying on your pet and avoid getting any on the muzzle or near the eyes.

4.  Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled around your floor boards during peak flea season (late summer for PA) and vacuumed up 2-3 days later and reapplied frequently.  Be sure to use food grade product.

5.  Keep all pet bedding and towels and baskets laundered at least weekly during peak seasons.  And bathe all pets as needed, but no more than once a month in general.

6.  This should probably go at the top of the to do list:  a wholesome homemade diet.  Please consult with a veterinarian before designing your own petfood.  Good intentions can have serious consequences..

Please note:  I would be happy to discuss these options with you in more detail during an appointment, but I do not have time to respond to emails or phone calls from people who are not currently clients of mine.  There just aren't enough hours in the day.

Blessings on your bug-free and bee-safe journey,

Dr. B