Every owner wants to do what is best for their dog. For most people, this includes regularly treating their pet for fleas and ticks. But there is growing evidence that some of the ingredients commonly found in these products could be very harmful.
Of greatest concern to researchers is an active ingredient called fipronil, which is used in many of the top brands. Manufacturers claim that this does not enter the dog’s body at all, but instead remains only in the skin’s oil glands. However, laboratory testing has shown that this claim is false and that traces of fiprinol could be found in the animal’s organs.
It is believed by many scientists that there is a direct link between fiprinol and incidences of liver toxicity, thyroid cancer and convulsions. There is also some evidence that it contributes to infertility. But fiprinol is not the only ingredient causing great concern.
Imidacloprid is a fairly recent addition to flea products, and was only introduced in the mid-nineties. From the start, there were indications that it was not safe for use in dogs. There was early evidence from laboratory tests that it raised the risk of birth defects in rodents and dogs.
More recent experiments have also highlighted a link with a number of serious health complications. The biggest effect seen has been an increase in cholesterol – as with humans, raised cholesterol levels can lead to a number of life threatening conditions, especially as the dog ages. Imidacloprid was also shown to carry a risk of damage to many of the internal organs, such as the lungs, liver, heart, spleen and the brain.
The final chemical to be aware of is pytheroid, which is a known carcinogen. Pets given spot-on treatment with products containing pytheroid show high incidences of lung and liver tumors. Since this chemical can function as a neurotoxin, it can also cause tremors, convulsions and other brain related disorders. Many experts believe that aggressive behavior in some dogs can be attributed to flea products that use pytheroid.
Are There Safe Alternatives For Flea And Tick Control?
Most vets will advise you that prevention is better than cure, when it comes to fleas. A healthy animal makes a less attractive host to parasites, so taking care of your pet and feeding them a wholesome diet will help greatly. Regularly combing your pet with a flea comb will also prevent a serious flea problem from developing, as they may still pick up the odd parasite on their daily walk.
Another safe alternative is to introduce garlic or brewer’s yeast into your dog’s diet. These flavors are particularly distasteful to fleas and ticks, so including a little of both with your dog’s dinner will make their blood unpalatable to pests. As a rough guide, a 50 pound dog should have around one tablespoon of yeast mixed in with their regular food.
It is frequently said that dogs are man’s best friend. Protect yours by abstaining from harmful chemical based products, and use natural alternatives instead.