We all want to make sure our dogs are kept healthy, free of ticks, fleas and worms, but at what cost?
Many of the pharmaceutical treatments for these issues come with their own side effects. For example, tick and flea treatments contain neurotoxins which disrupt the nervous system of the little critter, causing them to die. However, using these treatments also mean you are subjecting your dog to the same chemicals. The theory is that in low doses, these aren’t harmful to your dog but this isn’t always the case.
Side effects of such treatments include:
- Allergic reactions — hives, congestion, itching, extreme sensitivity, shock, respiratory distress, death (very rare)
- Idiosyncratic reactions — resembles toxic reactions at much lower doses
- Mild reaction — excessive (hyper) salivation, paw flicking, ear twitching, mild depression, vomiting, diarrhea
- Moderate to serious reaction — protracted vomiting and diarrhea, depression, incoordination, muscle tremors (must be differentiated from paw flicking and ear twitching)
As well as these potential side effects to your dog, ticks and fleas are becoming resistant to chemicals as they are so commonly used as a preventative measurement by dog owners around the globe.
So, is there an alternative?
Yes! The good news is that there are a lot of natural products that can do the same job as chemicals without causing the same side effects.
Fleas and ticks- There’s many alternatives to treat ticks and fleas. A quick google search will give you a many different ways that people have been preventing ticks and fleas for thousands of years. Billy No Mates can be added to food in liquid or powder form. Garlic is also safe to use in small quantities to prevent fleas and ticks and is commonly used in the USA. You can read more about the benefits of garlic here. Another alternative is natural sprays which use essential oils to repel unwanted occupants
Worms- every day foods such as these can be used to promote gut health and help keep away any nasties. Grapeseed extract has wonderful natural powers, including treatment for intestinal worms and giardia and ticks and fleas. You can read more about GSE here. Feeding treats with fur on, such as dried rabbit ears, also helps ‘flush out’ the guts, just like in the wild. You can also feed fur regularly as part of a raw diet.
Do I need to treat against these things?
The simple answer is no.
Fleas are a nuisance, but do not harm your dog so many people choose to only treat them if they occur. Similarly, ticks themselves are not dangerous, however they can pass on diseases such as Lyme disease. It’s worth noting that only approximately 10% of UK ticks are disease carriers so many people do not treat for ticks and do daily checks instead to remove any. If you live in a place where sheep and deer are common on walks, then you may want to consider actively treating for ticks.
Worms can pro-actively be tested for and treated accordingly instead. This limits any unnecessary chemicals for the dog but ensures that no parasites are present. Home kits are available from companies such as Worm Count.