The Flea & Tick Prevention Dilemma
Each year I face the same dilemma: debating if I want to try a natural flea and tick repellent for dogs, and which one to use if I do. It’s not an easy decision – each choice involves risk for your dog.
Do you agonize over this too?
If you use conventional flea and tick products, you are either feeding your dog a potentially dangerous chemical or putting it on their skin.
That is worrisome, especially when you start hearing stories of dogs who experienced neurological problems such as seizures and nerve pain after receiving a flea and tick treatment.
On the flip side, if you don’t treat your dog and your dog gets lyme disease, they can experience a number of painful symptoms that can be hard to treat if the disease is not caught early. Additionally, ticks can also crawl from the dog onto their human family.
WHAT TO DO???
Potential Dangers From Conventional Flea and Tick Treatments
In April of 2020, the FDA released a statement warning of dangers from numerous flea and tick medications, citing adverse events such as muscle tremors, ataxia, and seizures.
This fact sheet about the adverse effects of a number of flea and tick medications summarizes the FDA’s concerns and the medications that are involved.
Suffice it to say, if the FDA has to release an “alert” about it, it probably is not a good thing to use on your pet. Even if your pet doesn’t have these extreme reactions, there is no way of knowing what the toxins that these medications contain might do to your dog’s long term physical and mental health.
Can a Natural Flea and Tick Repellent for Dogs Really Work?
After my first summer of using 100% natural flea and tick prevention for dogs, I can answer with a confident YES – it works!
It takes a little while to get into a routine of putting the natural flea and tick repellent on your pet each day, but once you establish the habit it’s no big deal.
Some people choose to spray their dog with their natural flea and tick repellent first thing in the morning, reapplying if needed.
I choose to spray my dogs before our daily walks, as that is when they get 99% of their ticks. Also, if my dog stays out in the yard during the day to lie down and soak up the sunshine, I would spray their feet and bellies at that time.
Top Natural Products I Found
**note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them. However, using the link to buy the products helps support happynaturaldog.com!**
After doing a fair amount of research, I chose the following 4 products:
The cedarwood essential oil spray is my main go-to for a natural flea and tick repellent for my dogs. Each day before our walks, I spray my dogs lightly, especially their paws, legs, and bellies .
I chose Paws & Claws dog spray because it had only one essential oil vs. a mix. With a dog that reacts behaviorally to food and non-food products, the simpler I keep it the less risk he’ll turn into Cujo.
Paws & Claws contains 10% cedarwood oil, which not only repels fleas and ticks but actually kills them if they get sprayed. I chose it because it contains a higher percentage cedarwood oil than Wondercide (a similar product).
Bonus feature: cedarwood oil is known to “defuse anger, reduce fear, aggression, anxiety and nervousness, helps us to see situations objectively.” I read that and it was like ,,, SOLD! – to the lady with the fearful nervous reactive dog that needs flea and tick prevention.
Updated review: After using this for two years, I can definitively say it does an excellent job repelling ticks and fleas. During high tick season (early April- mid June) if I spray my dogs before a walk, they don’t get ticks. If I forget—there is a good chance I will find a tick or two.
This natural flea and tick product is a dietary additive. Earth Animal Flea & Tick Powder contains ingredients such as Brewer’s dried yeast and dried garlic.
The idea is that it produces a body scent that fleas and ticks don’t like. Based on my experience of how a strong garlic meal “modifies” my husband’s scent (and I’m talking scent in a 3-5 foot radius here . . . !), I thought this idea had great potential and added it to my dog’s breakfast each day.
I use this product during high tick season, as I want my dogs to have as many “tick repelling” qualities as possible. Once high tick season is over, I only use the Paws & Claws Cedarwood Oil Spray.
A friend of mine recently told me that she uses geranium oil to protect her dogs, and I found this natural mixture that contains cedarwood oil, geranium oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil, and lavender oil.
I’ve got it on order to try on my non-sensitive dog, and will update this article once I’ve used it for a tick season and know how it worked.
I use Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Spray if I find a random flea on one of my dogs. This doesn’t happen often (every few years), and generally only happens if the dog has a low immune system for other reasons.
I have also used it on fosters who come in with fleas, they usually get a chemical treatment before their transport to me but I spray them with this for the first week and rub it in just in case any eggs hatch.
The smell is actually lovely (in reference, the Paws & Claws cedarwood is a little strong, not bad, but strong). Vet’s Best has a clove peppermint scent that is pleasing to be around.
I haven’t tried this spray as a daily tick repellent so can’t attest to it’s functionality for that purpose.
DIY Natural Flea and Tick Repellent Recipe
Cedarwood, Geranium, and Lavender Essential Oil Spray
Pin the recipe below to save and share with friends!
Cedarwood essential oil is a great options for DIY flea and tick repellent sprays as well; it is safe for pets and humans while repelling and killing ticks & fleas.
For those of you who like to know the science behind the product, cedarwood oil apparently kills ticks in 6 different ways: dehydration, neutralization of body fluids, emulsification and encapsulation of body fats, suffocation, pheromonal (chemical signal) interference, and dissolving flea and tick larvae.
Virginian Cedarwood Oil is known to be more effective than other varieties against ticks, so be mindful of which type you are buying.
Geranium oil is known for its tick repelling properties; one study even found that geranium oil was just as effective at keeping ticks away as DEET.
Lavender essential oil is yet another oil shown in studies to repel ticks at a level comparable to DEET.
Instructions for Safely Applying Essential Oil Sprays
Never spray a product, natural or otherwise, on your dog’s face. Instead, spray the oil mix on your hands and gently rub it around your dog’s head, carefully avoiding their eyes and mouth.
After you have sprayed your dogs body, rub the oil in with your hands for better coverage.
If you prefer not to get the oil smell on your hands you don’t have to rub it into your dog’s body. I usually don’t and just make sure to spray thoroughly.
Make sure you don’t get it in your dog’s eyes, and that you don’t touch your eyes if you have it on your hands – some essential oils will make eyes sting.
My Experience: Did Natural Flea and Tick Repellent for Dogs Really Work??
My summer experiment trying natural flea and tick repellent for my dogs was a resounding success! If I used the Paws and Claws cedarwood oil spray before my walks, my dogs were tick free.
Here are the key things I learned:
- The Earth Animal food powder did not seem to be enough by itself to keep the dogs tick free. If I forgot the cedarwood oil spray, I would sometimes find a tick on my dog later that day. I do think, however, that without the food powder I would have found more ticks on the days I forgot to spray.
- When I sprayed with the cedarwood oil spray before our walks (and before any prolonged time sitting in the yard), my dogs remained tick-free.
Next summer I will probably just use the cedarwood oil. I’ve gotten much better at remembering to put it on each day and that was the key to my success.
It’s Time to Give Natural Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs a Try
I’m pumped that this worked so well for my dogs. One whole summer, fewer ticks than I removed while using Frontline the year before, and no chemicals on my dogs =WIN!
What has worked for you, and what hasn’t? Put your story in the comments below so we can all learn from each other’s trial and error experiences.
Bonus: Did you know there are also natural ways to deworm dogs as well? Click and read to learn more.
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