A natural approach to flea and tick control

Explore the ever-widening benefits of recommending natural flea and tick products to your clients.

Since I began practicing veterinary medicine over 25 years ago, the focus and methods by which we control fleas and ticks in our companion animals has changed dramatically. The obvious change has been the introduction of numerous varied options for flea and tick control on the market. Less obvious to many people is the shift to focus on tick control first, when we primarily were flea-centric in the past. The reasoning behind this shift is the ever-increasing tick-borne diseases we are diagnosing in our dog and cat patients. I practice in Fairfield County, Connecticut. My office is less than an hour drive from Lyme, Connecticut. In other words, smack dab in the “hot zone” for tick-borne disease. There is rarely a day that goes by that I do not get a positive lab back for one of the tick-borne illness trinity (Lyme, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia).

Parasite control options

So how do we guide our clients on protecting their furry family members against both ticks and fleas? For me, its about making them aware that they have choices. There are several conventional flea and tick control products on the market today arranged in collar, oral, and topical transdermal forms. The vast majority of these are neurotoxins. These products work by using the animal as a vehicle to deliver a hyper stimulating dose of neurotoxin to the parasite to ultimately kill or repel it (many claiming to work before it can transmit disease to the animal). The bulk of these products are very effective in their flea and tick control, but they do come with potential health risks to our patients.

Recommending a natural approach

Because of this I believe the time is overdue to consider natural options. Having a competent natural flea and tick product on the shelf at your practice will enable you to provide “another way” for animals that cannot tolerate chemical protectants or those whose pet parents are seeking a reduced dependence on chemicals. The percentage of our clientele that prefers a natural approach continues to grow.

There are already scenarios in many of our practices that prompt us to limit the use of flea and tick products such as seizures, cancer, geriatric, and immune compromised animals. Many of those animals go unprotected. I always recommend a natural approach to flea and tick control for those patients. As a clinician, it is important to do your research on which natural flea and tick product to recommend. There are several options out there. I think it is important to choose a product that is from a reputable company and backed by efficacy studies. It is true that natural products cannot alone achieve the 90% efficacy levels of the chemical products, but many natural products out there approach 80% effectiveness. The most effective natural tick and flea products are often used in a “tiered approach” with multiple products working synergistically to improve efficacy.  Some of these natural products also have added benefits for skin, coat and overall health.

I believe we are overdue in offering a natural approach to flea and tick control. By doing so, this enables us as a community to cover the unprotected for various medical reasons and to use concurrently with traditional medications. This will help to reduce the amount of chemicals our patients are exposed to and to serve our ever-growing population of clients that want a natural approach for their furry family members.


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