How Flea and Tick Meds Can Shorten Your Dog’s Life

How Flea and Tick Meds Can Shorten Your Dogs Life
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Flea and tick prevention for your dog might be challenging. So, what are your options if you’re trying to avoid toxins? You and your dog are coping with an out-of-control flea or tick infestation. You’re both yearning for relief from the scratching.

Don’t get discouraged. Here’s everything you’ll need to sift through all of the options and pick the best flea and tick prevention for dogs.

Traditional Oral Flea and Tick Preventatives 

These are the most harmful and worst offenders to use on your dog. They’re frequently given to your dog orally as a tasty chew. These pharmaceuticals contain isoxazolines. In most cases, they can only be obtained with a prescription.

flea and tick meds
Flea and Tick Meds

Isoxazolines are a type of ingredient found in a number of these drugs. They’re non-competitive GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor antagonists. They bind to chloride channels in the body of the flea or tick. The bugs become paralyzed and die as a result of the disruption of nerve transmissions.

Oral Flea and Tick Preventatives: How Do They Work?

When fed to your dog, isoxazolines have a systemic effect. This implies that drugs enter his bloodstream and have an impact on his entire body. Fleas and ticks consume the chemicals in your dog’s blood, causing them to become immobile and die.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to pet owners and veterinarians about the dangers of isoxazoline drugs. Symptoms include muscle tremors, delayed movement, lack of coordination, and convulsions.

After looking at as many brands of oral chews and pills as we could find, we came up with a list of active ingredients to check for on the label.

Oral Flea and Tick Medicine Active Ingredients

First on the list are chemicals used to prevent flea and tick bites and infestations. They’re already dangerous and powerful. Tick and mite-killing chemicals are known as acaricides. Ectoparasiticides are used to treat external parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice, mites, and flies.

The second category includes antiparasitic chemicals, sometimes known as anthelmintics. This means they expel parasitic worms. Dewormers are commonly included in flea and tick treatments.

This drug combination should be avoided since it may endanger your dog. Treatments for fleas and ticks are often given for eight months, or longer if you live in a hot climate. However, you should never treat your dog for worms unless he has them. If he does, there’s no need to give him a dewormer for the entire flea season.

You’re getting dewormers that are both unnecessary and unpleasant if you locate compounds from both lists. This is in addition to flea and tick treatments, which can be harmful. Some claim to guard against fleas, ticks, lice, worms, and heartworm, among other insects and worms. This is a lot of unnecessary medication, and it could have serious consequences especially if your dog doesn’t require it.

Fleas And Tick Oral Medication Ingredients

  • Afoxalaner is an isoxazoline derivative.
  • Fluralaner-a member of the isoxazoline family for systemic usage; it is the only active ingredient in one brand of chews that lasts for 12 weeks!
  • Sarolaner is an insecticide and acaricide from the isoxazoline family.
  • Lotilaner is an isoxazoline-based ectoparasiticide that has a one-month lifespan.
  • Spinosad – a garden bug spray manufactured from soil bacteria that is poisonous to insects.
  • Lufenuron – stops the development of unnecessary de-wormers and controls flea infestations by preventing the hatching of eggs. Frequently Included
  • Milbemycin oxyme is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic that is used to treat heartworm and other internal parasites like as hookworm and roundworm.
  • Anti-parasitic moxidectin is used to treat heartworm and intestinal parasites.
  • Pyrantel is a dewormer and anthelmintic.
  • Praziquantel is an anthelmintic used to treat parasitic infections such as tapeworms.

Oral Flea and Tick Medicines Drawbacks

The disadvantage of poisoning fleas and ticks is that it poisons the recipient, AKA your dog! If you’re looking for the best product to manage fleas, this is definitely it, but you’ll be damaging your dog’s body at the same time as killing the fleas. 

flea and tick meds

Isoxazolines function on the assumption that because your dog is considerably bigger than a flea, a small amount of poison won’t hurt him. In some circumstances, this may be true. What if you gave your dog a small amount of this poison every month for years? Because the safety tests were only completed for three months, the manufacturer has no idea what will happen over time.

Side Effects

However, some dog owners have reported very major negative effects. They’re frequently neurological, such as seizures. Because most of these products affect the nerve system and paralyze the pests, they kill them. These medications have the following side effects:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Stumbling, falling, and lack of coordination are all symptoms of ataxia.
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetitelessness
  • irritated skin
  • Lethargy

These signs indicate that dogs, like their pests, are poisoned. They have the same neurological problems as fleas and ticks do. As a result, every dog is in danger. And all you have to do is search on social media for specialized pages where sad owners chronicle their dogs’ convulsions… before they died.

Chews’ inactive components are also undesirable. Things like “natural” flavors that aren’t natural, carbohydrates, sugars, and preservatives, to name a few, may not be listed.

Flea and Tick Collars

Flea and tick collars, which your dog wears continuously for up to eight months, are the second most dangerous type. So that they are always in your dog’s line of sight. Chemicals penetrate the skin and enter the body.

In contrast to oral flea and tick preventatives, your dog should not consume these. However, accidents do happen. According to Environmental Protection Agency reports, there are many of them.

Even if your dog doesn’t chew on his collar while at the park, another dog in your home may. It can be simply removed and used as a chew toy. And that is an extremely hazardous chew toy. Just consider the following ingredients.

Unlike oral flea medications, these collars may not require a prescription. This means that a family may possess dozens of them, all of which may fall into the wrong hands.

Between January 2012 and mid-June 2020, the EPA received 1,698 incident reports regarding Seresto collars, which resulted in 1,698 pet deaths. In addition, there were nearly 73,000 injuries categorized as light, moderate, or catastrophic.

Almost 1,000 incidents of human harm were documented. After sharing his bed with a dog wearing the collar, a 12-year-old child suffered from convulsions and vomiting. According to the product registration papers filed with the EPA, children should avoid contact with the collars and should not play with them.

Ingredients in Flea and Tick Collars

  • Flumethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid similar to permethrin and other insecticides. Pyrethroids paralyze the nervous systems of insects.
  • Pyrethroids are a synthetic pesticide class derived from the chrysanthemum. One of these pesticides is permethrin. The central nervous system is poisoned by permethrin.
  • Deltamethrin is a synthetic form of chrysanthemum pyrethrin. It’s an insecticide that’s used to prevent malaria and as a mosquito net cover.
  • Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is used to protect crops as well as in pet pesticides.
  • It’s an insecticide called tetrachlorvinphos. It’s employed as a weapon, as well as a pharmaceutical, pesticide, and nerve agent. In dairy, it’s used as an oral larvicide and against flies. Fleas, ticks, lice, chiggers, mites, spiders, and wasps are all killed.
  • Methoprene is a slow-acting pesticide that disrupts an insect’s growth cycle, preventing it from developing and reproducing.
  • Pyriproxyfen is a pesticide that mimics an insect’s natural hormone and stops eggs from developing. Fleas, cockroaches, ticks, ants, carpet beetles, and mosquitoes are all controlled using it.

Side Effects of Flea and Tick Collars

Neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors, and immunosuppressants are among the substances employed in these collars. These signs and symptoms may be caused by them:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Salivation
  • Convulsions and Tremors
  • Hyperactivity as well as heightened sensitivity to touch and sound
  • Inflammation
  • Damage to the kidneys and liver
  • Toxicity of organs
  • Antioxidants’ proper function is disrupted.
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Birth defects and abortion

It is hardly surprising that counterfeit products are competing for market share in the flea and tick prevention industry.

In 2019, the renowned Seresto flea collar surpassed $300 million in sales. This fame has spawned a multitude of imitators. Keep a watch out for imitation and counterfeit name-brand collars. The phony collars may not protect your pet from fleas and ticks.

In fact, the components may be more hazardous than the chemicals themselves. They can cause severe illness and burns. The legitimate manufacturers argue that some of the reported pet injuries are attributable to the counterfeit collars.

If you want to get a Seresto collar, go to a respected store like a vet supply store. Don’t buy it from an unknown internet retailer, including Amazon and eBay! You can find a list of local and online authorized shops on the Bayer website, the manufacturer.

You must contact Bayer immediately if you feel you have a false collar. Give them the product’s lot number and serial number to see if they made it.

Topical Flea and Tick Medication

Pharmaceutical topical therapies, sometimes known as spot-ons, are the third most dangerous type. The drug is applied by placing it on your dog’s skin down the neck and back. In general, go for the ones that have the fewest components.

Avoid spot-ons with added substances that cover a variety of bugs, just like oral preventives. If your dog isn’t afflicted with many bugs, the additional treatment and poisons that come with it are unnecessary.

Spot-Ons’ Active Ingredients

  • Fipronil belongs to the phenylpyrazole chemical family and is a broad-spectrum pesticide. It affects the insect’s central nervous system and causes nerve and muscle hyperexcitation.
  • Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide that attacks the central nervous system of sucking pests like fleas by acting as an insect neurotoxin. It’s also poisonous to honeybees and mimics nicotine’s effects on insects.
  • Permethrin – as previously said. Also effective against lice.
  • Pyriproxyfen – as previously said.
  • Moxidectin – as previously stated.
  • Dinotefuran belongs to the neonicotinoids, a class of neuro-active insecticides that are chemically related to nicotine. It is not necessary for the insect to consume it to be effective.
  • S-methoprene is an insecticide that inhibits the growth and development of insects. It stops bugs from laying eggs and hatching them, so they can’t multiply.
  • Heartworms, fleas, ear mites, and sarcoptic mange are all treated with selamectin, an antiparasitic and antihelminthic insecticide used on dogs. It functions as both a dewormer and an insecticide.

How Does Flea And Tick Spot-On Prevention Work?

Liquid flea and tick preventatives are typically administered between the shoulder blades of a dog’s back. Chemicals are absorbed by the skin and sent to the sebaceous glands via the circulation. The active substance is secreted and passed via the glands that create the oil that lubricates the coat of a dog. When an insect feeds on your dog’s blood, it contracts the toxin and dies.

They remain in your dog’s system just like any other oral or intravenous medication. Some products stay in your dog’s system longer than others. A shorter length is advantageous. This suggests that it will leave your dog’s system quicker… and you may not need to administer it again.

However, your dog cleans himself through self-licking. The chemicals pass through the system, so even though they are administered on the back, they are still passing through the body and being secreted through the skin. 

Topical Flea and Tick Side Effects

Fipronil enters the body and can be found in the fat, organs, urine, and feces of dogs, according to the EPA’s Pesticide Division. The EPA also discovered that the majority of fipronil reactions were systemic, as well as application site, digestive, neurological, and behavioral issues. The following were the most common clinical signs:

  • Hair loss, itching, and redness are common skin reactions.
  • Dermatitis or sores
  • Irritation
  • At the application site, the hair changes.
  • Uncoordinated movement is a neurological condition.
  • Lethargy
  • In humans, short exposure to (S)-methoprene can produce mild to moderate skin irritation. In dogs, higher doses can cause:
  • Vomiting
  • Pupils dilated
  • Behavioral changes
  • Breathing patterns change
  • Muscle control changes

Medicated Shampoos And Sprays For Fleas And Ticks

As with other types of preventatives, flea and tick shampoos and sprays include harmful ingredients. Using them could assist in warding off pests… However, you expose your dog to additional contaminants.

Flea and Tick Shampoo Active Ingredients

Toxic substances like phthalates, formaldehyde, and neurotoxins like methylisothiazolinone, propylene glycol, and sodium benzoate are already present in pet shampoos. They have artificial fragrances and colors, as well as a couple dozen other things you wouldn’t want to put on your dog.

Active components in medicated flea and tick shampoos include the following:

  • Permethrins, also known as piperonyl butoxide, operate in conjunction with pesticides to boost their efficiency. It prevents insecticides from penetrating an insect’s body by interrupting enzymes.
  • Other pesticides’ pesticide activities are enhanced by N-Octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide.
  • These ingredients account for 1% of the total. The remainder are conventional shampoo components, complete with pollutants.

Fleas are killed by any shampoo. Or, you can even use Dawn dish soap. 

Giving your dog a bath with a medicated flea and tick shampoo has little advantage. Giving your dog a wash with a natural shampoo will drown fleas just as effectively as dousing him with a medical shampoo… but without the hazardous components.

Your Dog’s Safe Flea And Tick Prevention

Now that you are aware of the riskier products, here are some safe, natural ways to keep fleas and ticks away from your dog. If you want to employ a flea treatment that does not cause seizures or other negative effects, natural remedies are your best bet.

First, however, a word of caution. When it comes to natural flea and tick prevention, it is important to read the labels thoroughly. Always inspect the ingredients, even if the product claims to be natural, because some individuals falsely claim to be natural. 

A spray whose name contains the term “organic” is an example. However, it contains some inactive compounds, such as sodium benzoate, that you should avoid. It causes inflammation, free radicals, oxidative stress, and allergic reactions in animals.

Flea And Tick Repellents That Are Safe

Natural sprays should have as few components as possible . Products that include cedar oil and hydrated silica may now contain sodium lauryl sulfate and mineral oil, both of which should be avoided.

You have complete control over the ingredients when you prepare something from scratch. 

Here are several recipes for essential oil-based flea and tick treatments that are safe for dogs.

Making Flea and Tick Repellant with Essential Oils

Essential oils can save the day when it comes to warding off fleas and ticks. Using essential oils, you may create your own repellents, collars, bandanas, and shampoos. Remember that essential oils are quite potent, so never use them undiluted on your dog.

A plant’s essential oil is seventy-five times more potent than its botanical counterpart. Three to six drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, is a suitable ratio.

Not all essential oils are suitable for use in dogs. Some oils are toxic to dogs, so exercise caution when choosing them. Consider that your dog’s sense of smell is hundreds of times more acute than your own.

A canine herbalist, Rita Hogan, has created a list of oils to use and avoid. They are intended to repel fleas and ticks. To learn more about Rita Hogan, click here.

Essential Oils That Are Safe For Dogs

Essential oils that are safe for dogs include: 

Note: Every dog is different, just as every person is different, and therefore may react differently to each essential oil type.

Create a Bandana or Collar

Using diluted essential oils, you can make your own flea and tick collar as described above. Then, using a few drops, apply it to a cloth collar or bandana that your dog will wear. However, only use them on outings. When your dog comes inside, take them off so he doesn’t breathe in the oils all day.

Amber Flea Collars

Amber is a fossilized tree byproduct composed of resin. Amber flea collars are constructed of amber stones. They are coarse, milky-colored, and strung on a thread with a leather or cloth buckle. Baltic amber (from the Baltic Sea) has 8 percent acid content, making it the most popular.

The acidity of the amber reacts with the static electricity generated by the stones as they rub against your dog’s fur.  Fleas and ticks tend to be repelled by this. Numerous individuals feel that the longer an animal wears an amber collar, the better.

The items differ widely in terms of their quality and longevity. You must choose your size with care. Also, ensure that you are obtaining Baltic amber from a reputable dealer who uses only genuine amber. Be sure to question the sourcing.

Natural Shampoo to Kill Fleas and Ticks

During flea season, you should bathe your dog more frequently if he is susceptible to flea infestations. Remember to sweep your home every day. Choose shampoos that are free of chemicals and made from natural ingredients. And, be sure to watch your dog’s skin and use a high-quality moisturizer if necessary.

Look for aloe vera juice, coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil, sweet orange essential oil, neem oil, and rosemary extract in a shampoo for dogs that is safe from fleas and ticks. It differs from the ingredients found in medicated flea and tick washes, and even normal pet shampoos.

Alternately, you might create your own. To make a safe flea and tick shampoo for your dog, combine unscented castile soap with a few drops of a safe essential oil that repels insects.

Heal From the Outside In

Fleas and ticks do not thrive in a healthy dog. Begin your dog’s path to better health before flea season arrives. To begin, make the following lifestyle changes:

  • Feed a raw meat, whole food diet.
  • Chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, and toxic cleansers should all be avoided.
  • Reduce the use of immunizations and pharmaceuticals.
  • Add finely chopped fresh organic garlic to your dog’s food every day. After dicing, allow 10 minutes to pass. Each day, a large dog may consume up to two cloves. Smaller dogs can be given up to one clove.
  • Apply food-grade diatomaceous earth to your dog’s fur from his ears to his tail.


Fact Sheet for Pet Owners and Veterinarians about Potential Adverse Events Associated with Isoxazoline Flea and Tick Products | FDA

Seresto collars come under greater scrutiny | American Veterinary Medical Association

Flea Collar Chemicals Are Poisoning Kids and Pets | NRDC

The Hidden Dangers of Flea Collars

The EPA internally raised concerns about Seresto flea collar for years, new records reveal

Published by Amber Drake

Dr. Drake is an award-winning author and well-known cancer specialist in her field. She is best known for her extensive research on canine cancer prevention and nutrition, her dedication to help dogs live a long, happy life, and for teaching veterinary medicine. As the CEO of Canine Companions Co., the Founder of Drake Dog Cancer Foundation and Academy, and the Co-Founder of Preferable Pups, in addition to being a respected figure in the dog world, she has earned the respect of thousands of dog lovers worldwide.

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