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Bugging Out

Stacy Mantle//March 31, 2015//

Bugging Out

Stacy Mantle //March 31, 2015//

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For those who find themselves victim to a flea or tick infestation, the temptation to treat it with possibly risky chemicals is strong. While chemical-based flea repellents may be the easiest way to remedy the problem, they may pose a risk to both humans and animals. Luckily, there are many natural products that are just as effective as chemical alternatives. As  flea and tick season approaches, it’s important for retailers to educate themselves on natural and safe products.

Natural Prevention

“Implementing a holistic approach to pet care and using natural pet supplies benefit pets in many ways,” said Stephanie Boone, CEO of Wondercide. “Along with a balanced diet and exercise, using natural pet supplies will help your pet maintain a healthy lifestyle and overall well-being. Traditional non-natural methods work by interrupting the biological function of pests to kill them, which also interrupts the biological function of pets and humans and can cause toxic reactions. We treat the source, not the symptom, with ingredients that are safe for the whole family.”

When selecting a remedy for pets, pet owners must understand the risks versus the rewards, particularly when it comes to immunocompromised animals and other sensitive pets.

“Do your research,” said Dr. Adelia Ritchie from DERMagic Skin Care for Animals. “Talk to the companies, ask other pet owners and do your homework.”

Natural products may be safer but they still pose an element of risk and it’s important for retailers to educate themselves on the good and the bad, not only for commercial insecticides but for natural repellents.

“Herbal flea and tick products tend to be safer than pharmaceutical or pesticide flea and tick products,” said Nancy Scanlan, D.V.M., executive director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and past president of the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association. “But all products that are formulated to rid pets of fleas and ticks pose some percentage of risk.”


TickShield is an organic, all-natural insect repellent and pesticide that is safe to use on both pets and people.

Mosquito Shield’s Tick Shield, another product specifically designed to prevent the spread of Lyme disease by eradicating pests, is reportedly 99 percent all-natural and eliminates deer and wood ticks, as well as fleas.

“Outdoor pests can cause a variety of dangerous illnesses and problems, making protection a vital part of your family’s care,” said Vicki Rae Thorne, founder of Earth Heart Inc. “Insect repellents work by masking the human scent or mimicking a scent that insects typically avoid and are helpful in preventing and controlling insect-borne diseases, such as malaria, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Because insect repellents are applied directly to clothing, skin or fur, controversy over the safety of commercial insecticides, particularly those containing DEET, has led to increasing development of natural insect repellents. Neem seed oil, at just one or two percent of the total product, is an effective insect repellent. Many essential oils, including citronella, rose geranium, myrrh and the mint family, are also known to have insect repelling properties and can mask the strong somewhat disagreeable scent of neem seed oil.”

Ultrasound Protection

For pets that may be extra sensitive to traditional repellents or other controls, there are options in the form of ultrasound protection. Love2Pet Ultrasound Flea & Tick Shield for Dogs & Cats is the safe, nontoxic and odorless way to help protect your companion pet from the dangerous effects of fleas and ticks. Use of an ultrasound frequency has been proven in independent university studies to keep fleas and ticks away by emitting a series of pulses that are bothersome to them but not harmful to your dog or cat.

TickLess Pet, another ultrasonic repellent, is a small electronic device in the form of a pendant that attaches to your pet’s collar. Using a series of ultrasonic pulses, it disturbs fleas and ticks, keeping them away for the life of the battery, which reportedly lasts between 10-12 months.

Testing Ticks for Disease

Repellents can help decrease the chances of a tick attaching but nothing is completely effective. Devices like the Tick Key, which uses natural forward leverage to remove the entire tick head, make removal safe and easy. A new mail-in testing program from Marshall Pet Products makes it simple to have a tick tested for disease. When ticks are found to have a disease, their victims can seek out earlier treatment, which is key to a successful recovery.

“The number of people who have contracted Lyme disease has increased two-fold, leading consumers to seek out solutions to help protect them against this disease,” said Linda Cope, global marketing manager for Marshall Pet Products.

Made from a blend of all-natural essential oils, Tick Release Spray encourages the tick to quickly release itself from the pet. Once the tick has disengaged, it is dropped into a vial that is then shipped to a lab, where the parasite is tested for disease. Up to five ticks can be submitted per each test indicated. Mail-in testing is available for the following tick-borne diseases: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, bartonella infection, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemiosis. Consumers can choose which tests they want to have performed.

Although natural remedies may be the safest solution to pest control, the FDA prohibits such products from making specific medical claims without expensive testing. For this reason, many highly-effective products are overlooked in the industry. It’s up to consumers to do their homework on individual products.

While commercial chemical flea and tick insecticides will always be an important part of the pet industry, natural solutions to pest control are gaining momentum as consumers seek out safer ways to treat pets.