Pests Beware!

Summer is the season of hiking, camping and all sorts of outdoor adventures.  It is also the season of fleas and ticks.  Before you apply the flea and tick repellent to furry hiking companion, consider what it is made from.  Are you using an over the counter or veterinary recommended treatment that contains harsh chemicals?

We all have our pets’ best interest at heart and may think that for the best flea and tick protection, we should use the “strongest” product.  This is not necessarily true.  There are several nature based products that work just as well, if not better than chemical based products.  Not to mention, the chemical products are not guaranteed to prevent flea and tick issues.

Let’s take a look at why pet parents should consider a nature based product.  According to the EPA, in 2008 there were over 44,000 reported incidents of reactions presumed to be linked to “spot-on” flea and tick products.  This is a significant increase over the 28,000 incidents reported in 2007 which resulted in 600 deaths.  Due to the overwhelming number of adverse reactions to spot on flea and tick treatments reported, in 2010 the EPA issued a report regarding the risks and concerns associated with treatment.  The report sites the primary demographics most at risk, commonly seen reactions including skin irritations and GI distress and chemicals most often involved with reactions.  For a more complete review of the 2010 EPA report, visit

I, unfortunately, was one of the pet parents who had to report a reaction my cat had due to a spot-on application.  Within minutes of application my cat’s fur fell out and he suffered chemical burns on the skin at the site of application.  I vowed then I would never submit my animals to chemical flea and tick treatments again.  The risk of adverse reactions to these dangerous products is just too great to not explore other options.

So what are the other options?  To better understand how the nature based products work, it is best to understand how the pests are targeting your pet (or you).  Simply put, scent!  The pests use special scent detectors to decide whether or not an individual is a good victim.  By naturalizing the scent the pests are seeking out, we are removing the temptations for the pests to choose your pet or you as a tasty meal.  This doesn’t mean dousing your pet in perfume to cover the dog smell.  It means using specific essential oils, specially blended with other natural ingredients to naturalize the scent the pests are seeking .  Pet parents must be cautious not to mix up a batch of essential oils themselves and apply it to their pet without knowing exactly what oils to use and the appropriate ratios.  Animals, especially cats, are very sensitive to essential oils and can be irritated by certain scents.  If you do not have extensive experience mixing and using essential oils, it is best to stick with a pre-made, tried and tested product.

I have tried a few different essential oil based products on my dog with success, even in the woods of Wisconsin!  We will continue to use nature based products this season.   A very important point to remember is, regardless of what type of product you choose to use, ALWAYS check yourself and your pet for pests after being in long grass, woods and swampy areas.

This flea and tick season I will be trying Dr. Mercola’s flea and tick repellent protocol as recommended by Dr. Karen Becker DVM.  Because we live on a ranch with tall grass, ponds and lots of forest, I have chosen to use all four recommended products for the highest level of protection.  The protocol includes Flea and Tick Defense spray (for hiking and camping), Herbal Repellant Collar, Spot On Topical Herbal Repellant and for when Scout, our dog, does get a tick we will use the Tick Stick tick remover.  Scout and I will report on the effectiveness of Dr. Mercola’s flea and tick protocol after we have tested it on a few adventures.  Be sure to check back in for updates and recommendations.  Until then, happy tails on your adventures!


For information on other natural pet products visit

Dr. Christine Labadie has no affilliation to Mercola or Mercola products