With the onset of spring, pets and people begin to enjoy warmer days, longer evenings, and more outdoor activity. Unfortunately, we are not the only ones who enjoy the sunny seasons. Fleas, ticks and other parasites come out from dormant phases or move from wildlife to domestic hosts as the weather warms. These creatures can not only cause clinical illness by themselves, but they can also transmit infectious diseases such as Lyme disease, Bartonella, tapeworms, and others. Although many safe and effective conventional products exist to help protect pets, just as many natural flea and tick prevention alternatives exist and are worthy of some consideration.
There are many myths that exist about fleas. Pets that live entirely or mostly indoors are not immune to getting fleas. Fleas thrive in a warm, stable environment. They happily reproduce in the small cracks between hardwood floors, and can be easily carried inside. Fleas have a dormant phase that can remain quiet for months so a previously addressed flea problem can return and seem like a new problem when it really is not. And fleas can easily jump on and off of pets or be swallowed during grooming so not seeing them does not necessarily mean they are not there.
Ticks require very little warm weather before they are ready to begin seeking hosts. Their movement across body surfaces is virtually imperceptible by design. Some of the more serious ticks, such as the deer tick that carries Lyme disease, are very small and difficult to find even after latching onto a host. And ticks can carry a variety of diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis, all of which can be quite serious.
Natural flea and tick products have been around for many years. Although often not as “foolproof” as conventional products, we have seen more and more consumers willing to accept this and put a little extra time into products that reduce or eliminate their pets’ exposure to harsh chemicals and their potential side effects. Essential oil flea and tick repellents have been one area where we have seen some of the best results, and they can help repel mosquitos as well. Regular application of the right products (often three times per week or after getting wet) does a good job of keeping most external parasites away. It’s important to use a high quality product and one that is safe. Cats, for example, can be very sensitive to essential oils. We always counsel clients on options for safe and effective natural essential oil repellents.
Other natural repellents include food additives and magnetic tags. Food additives such as vitamin B12, garlic and brewer’s yeast are theorized tp allow for natural compounds to appear in the blood of host animals which safely makes blood less attractive to fleas. And since many insects navigate partially through electromagnetic fields, certain very safe magnetic collars have started to show some promise in helping keep parasites off of pets. At Balance Veterinary Center, we always offer guidance on the brands that we have heard clients have the best results using. And it’s important to note that we always offer suggestions on more natural and less processed diets for our patients which we feel helps keep their immune systems healthy and makes them better able to fight any parasite or illness, as well as natural methods of making the environment less hospitable for parasites.
With the right care and counseling we feel that every pet and every household can find a way to reduce or eliminate exposure to parasites and enjoy the warm months ahead!
Call our office today to discuss the best options for keeping your pets happy and parasite free!