This is a BIG topic and sadly is one that can be tricky to navigate. Ultimately, all of our furry friends are potential hosts for some nasty critters, some of whom can have fatal effects, BUT prevention must always be done in an individualised manner relating to the risk of your own particular pet and your own preferences. I will support all owners in whatever way they wish to approach parasite prevention, be that drug treatments or natural therapies, as long as owners understand the risks associated with both routes.
I could write a book on the ins and outs of all parasites, but as I’m sure you have better things to do, I have instead summarised my general recommendations when considering natural repellents for use in DOGS in the document below. In addition, it is really important to keep your pet as healthy as possible with a tip top functioning immune system. Minimising the use of toxic products, following WSAVA recommended minimal vaccination schedules, feeding a high quality (ideally fresh food) diet and using immune boosting herbs and supplements are all key to keeping your dog safe, healthy and parasite free. If you're not sure what supplements or herbs are best for your pooch then do get in touch.
You will notice that many of the repellent options involve essential oils. These little drops of goodness are very powerful and need to be used with some care on our furry friends. My previous blog post goes through some of the key points to consider and more information is available in the files on my facebook page. However, I always recommend that anyone wishing to use Essential Oils with their pet - for parasite repelling actions or any other purpose, should speak to a veterinarian knowledgeable in their use. Owners should also only ever use oils that are of the highest quality with full analysis available to the consumer (ideally prior to purchase) for their pets - please ask me if you need recommendations of suppliers. Get in touch if you'd like to book an essential oils consultation with me in person for your pet, or alternatively schedule a telemedicine appointment.
I also need to mention the chemical flea/tick/worm treatments such as Bravecto, Nexguard and others, which you are probably familiar with since they are found in every pet shop and vet clinic. These products are licensed as being effective at killing the nasties and are used commonly across the globe to achieve this successfully. Many pet owners quite understandably feel they want to use something scientifically tested and licensed and thus opt for these particular products. I have used these products in my own pets when I need to as well. It is important to remember though that they are pesticides and as such do have potentially significant side effects on our pets, such as neurological problems and gastrointestinal upsets. Deaths have also been reported. In addition, there is growing evidence that pesticides from pet products are contaminating waterways and killing off vital insect populations in the wider countryside. I would therefore suggest that chemical preventatives shouldn’t be used without proper consideration and assessment of your dog’s particular risk factors, only used as needed to prevent parasites, and also with a full owner understanding of the risks vs benefits for their particular dog. Like with any medicine or chemical, we must balance the risk vs benefit for our pet on each occasion and come up with the most sensible option to keep them healthy and happy - in some dogs this will be monthly treatment, in others it will be 3 monthly and in others only now and again.
An advisory warning from the FDA in the USA regarding several flea/worm/tick products can be found below.
If you do choose to use a chemical product because you are in a high risk area, then I would advise using a detox treatment afterwards to support the liver and other body organs to get rid of the drug. Animal Botanical Liver by McDowells Herbal is a great option for this purpose as it contains a variety of herbs traditionally known to help the liver to do its job efficiently – please ask me for a special price !
I probably should also add that if your pup is unlucky enough to catch one of these troublesome parasites then there are also a few natural options available for treatment. These natural methods however may not always be as effective or work as fast as the conventional drug treatments available and therefore their use would need to be discussed with your vet in order to ensure the needs of your pet are met in full. In particular, if your pet gets bitten by a paralysis tick it is essential they are treated as soon as possible at an emergency animal hospital since the toxicity can be fatal very quickly.
Finally, I'd love to hear from you if you have questions or would like to work out the best regime for your pet to keep them safe! Head to the website and click the contact form, give me a call or drop me a message on Facebook!
See you next time!
Dr Alison :-)