Are Flea and Tick Meds Actually Safe?

Are Flea and Tick Meds Actually Safe?

The answer is probably not.  It's a hard no, if you live in the burbs or a city.  It's less of a hard no if you live woods and your dog is constantly outside, then maybe you should, but I would recommend avoiding it if at all possible due to side effects, which can include:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Ataxia – stumbling, falling, uncoordination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin irritations
  • Lethargy

(Source Dogs Naturally Magazine)

When Sheldon, my English Bulldog, took Frontline Flea and Tick medication as a puppy, he was extremely lethargic for 2 days or so and then would resume normal behavior.  This was very unlike him because he was and still is super high energy.  When I asked his former vet about this, she wasn't the slightest bit concerned and said, "enjoy the down-time." At the time, I should have realized this was a definite red flag about this vet, but unfortunately, I just didn't know any better. 

Now that I know better, I realize his extreme lethargy was his way of telling me that his body was working hard to process the meds I gave him and was having a tough time doing so.  That's probably because they contain harsh chemicals designed to kill fleas and ticks, but most definitely harmed Sheldon, the host.  Here are a list of common ingredients used in common flea and tick meds: 

Ingredients Against Fleas And Ticks

  • Afoxalaner – a member of the isoxazoline family
  • Fluralaner – for systemic use and also a member of the isoxazoline family; it is the single active ingredient found in one brand of chews that lasts for 12 weeks!
  • Sarolaner – an acaricide and insecticide also belonging to the isoxazoline family
  • Lotilaner – an ectoparasiticide belonging to the isoxazoline family, with a 1 month duration
  • Spinosad – made from soil bacteria that is toxic to insects and found in garden insect spray
  • Lufenuron – controls flea infestations by preventing the hatching of eggs, and prevents the flea shell from developing

Unnecessary De-Wormers Often Included

  • Milbemycin oxyme – used as a broad spectrum antiparasitic for heartworm and internal parasites including hookworm and roundworm
  • Moxidectin – an anti-parasitic to control heartworm and intestinal parasites
  • Pyrantel – an anthelmintic, or dewormer
  • Praziquantel – an anthelmintic used for parasites like tapeworms

(Source Dogs Naturally)

According to Jean Dodds, DVM, insecticides like Seresto Collars should not be used. "There are now two isoxazoline-related class-action lawsuits in North America — one in Quebec and the other in New Jersey. The FDA finally has required warnings on the labels and product inserts. As these drugs work by displacing fat from tissues, you can help detox and remove them faster by adding fats like coconut oil (to your pets’ diet).”
She also strongly advises against using the following as well: 
  • Comortis
  • TriFexis
  • Bravecto
  • Simparica
  • Simparica Trio 
  • Credelio
  • Advantage Multi
  • ProHeart 6 and 12
  • Revolution
  • Revolution Plus 
  • Coraxis
  • Sentinel

You can read more on this here


Now that I know better, we no longer use flea and tick meds at all.  We also don't live in a wooded area with lots of ticks.  If you must give flea and tick meds, do so during the spring, summer and perhaps early fall, but there is no need to do so in the winter when ticks are not around. 

If you choose the no flea and tick med route, like I did, you can use a product called wondercide (this is most definitely not an ad) to spray on your dog with a t-shirt onbefore he/she goes outside to minimize exposure to ticks.  Wondercide is 100% natural and does not contain any harsh chemicals that will harm your dog.  Since using wondercide and a t-shirt for the last 4 years, Sheldon has never been bitten by a tick once. 

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