8 Steps For Choosing A Safe Flea Product

pick-safe-flea-product-dnmFlea problems are one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of living with a dog. The pesky little insects have had hundreds of thousands of years to evolve and perfect their life cycle to make sure that their family tree thrives and doesn’t wither away. Unfortunately, their resilience and adaptability make it much harder to keep an average dog flea-free.

Fleas had a heyday until the rise of chemical-based flea products a few decades ago!

However, the introduction of powerful drug-based flea control came with a price: serious side effects. Pretty much every single major flea product comes with a history and risk of death after administration.

Success And Failure Of Conventional Medicine

It’s true that some drugs and conventional medical treatments can be life-saving, especially in emergencies. However, conventional western medicine has been much less successful when it comes to disease prevention, chronic disease treatment and cancer prevention.

The pharmaceutical industry has worked very hard to make people believe that treating a disease means taking a drug. There are pills for arthritis and pain, pills for heart disease, kidney problems, high cholesterol, cough, asthma, allergies, diarrhea, thyroid gland problems and autoimmune diseases. The list could be a mile long!

Not everyone realizes that every time they take a drug they’re introducing a foreign substance into their body with a high potential for toxicity and side effects. The same applies to your dog.

The True Color Of Drug Side-Effects

Most people are so used to seeing the long-term side effects that they don’t even register with them. In fact, dividing the effects of drugs into two categories was a very smart marketing idea. The two terms, effects and side-effects, gives people a false impression that these two groups are different, while in reality, they are all just the drug’s effects.

Reading a drug label may be similar to reading car accident statistics. We acknowledge the likelihood of being in an accident or even dying, but most people assume the chances of such a scenario happening is very low. We simply try not to focus on it.

In the case of taking or administering drugs, it’s hard to accept that it may be us or our dogs who become the victims of side-effects, because most people try not to think about the worst case scenario.


Flea Products And Fatalities

Conventional chemical-based flea products are no different. Pretty much every single major flea product on the market causes a multitude of effects, including death.

As a veterinarian, I’m lucky that none of my patients died as a result of a flea product administration before I stopped using them completely. However, I’ve seen a few patients getting seriously sick and one dog seized immediately after the treatment. It was very frightening.

Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took note of the dangers of these products a few years ago. When the EPA noticed an increase in reports of pet incidents involving spot-on pesticides, they partnered with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine, as well as Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency to examine spot-on products. They conducted a study of thousands of 2008 incident reports and examined both active and inert ingredients and reviewed product labeling, with the goal of improving analysis and regulation of these products.

The EPA found that the main organ systems affected in dogs were the dermal, gastrointestinal and nervous systems, resulting in:

Hair Loss And Color Changes

Ataxia (Loss Of Muscle Control)

Small breed dogs weighing 10 to 20 pounds were affected at higher rates than larger pets.

The study also found that not only the active ingredients but also the “inert” ingredients can be toxic to pets.

While some of the incidents were classified as minor, it’s vital to understand that all products caused deaths and major incidents as well.

What Do Most Dog Lovers Do About Fleas?

This is one of the main reasons people have a hard time choosing the right flea product. In the end, most people subconsciously slide into conventional thinking – that drugs are more effective than natural products.

There’s also a misconception about the method of product administration. Many people mistakenly believe that an internal product is more effective than a wash or spray, but in reality, the product efficacy has no connection with the method of administration.

How To Choose A Safe Flea Product

The purpose of this article is not to give you particular product recommendations, but to offer you a few general guidelines that will help make choosing easier.

Here are eight simple steps to help you choose the safest and most effective flea product for your dog:

  1. Always choose natural products over chemicals. 
  2. Never use an oral treatment product.  
  3. Never use spot-on treatments. This applies not only to chemically based spot-on treatments but also those that claim to be “natural” but usually are not. 
  4. Pick a product isn’t preserved with artificial chemicals (some of the so-called natural products are not natural.)
  5.  Use a combination of natural products — one to use on your dog and one for your home.
  6. Read reviews and ask other dogs lovers for recommendations before you purchase any new natural product. 
  7. Choose brands not manufactured in China to avoid poor quality or tainted ingredients. 
  8. Choose a product from a manufacturer who’ll return your money if the product doesn’t work.  

Value Perception Of Flea Products

When it comes to prices of conventional drugs and flea products, people are used to them being expensive. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry is the only industry that sells chemicals at a higher cost than natural products!

Think about it. Natural and organic foods are more expensive to source and produce than foods full of chemicals and preservatives. Fabrics and furniture made of natural materials are also more expensive than their plastic counterparts.

However, when it comes to flea products people buy chemically-derived drugs for over a hundred dollars per package, despite the potential these products have to kill their dog.

The paradox I often hear people complain about is the price of all-natural, fully guaranteed and completely safe flea products that are half of the price of the conventional products. I believe this happens because drug companies have conditioned us to see their products as more valuable by applying huge markups and hiking up the prices.

It is no longer the 20th century and you have a choice. When it comes to choosing a flea product, do your homework before you treat your canine friend.


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