Natural Flea Repellents:
Safe Alternatives to
Toxic Pesticides

Are you using spot-on chemical flea and tick products instead of natural flea repellents to control your dogs fleas and ticks? If so, consider this statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

natural flea repellents - dog scratching

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control due to recent increases in the number of reported adverse reactions in pets treated with these products. Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures and, in some cases, death of the pet.

For more information, visit the EPA's Web page on Increased Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Products for Pets.

The toxic chemicals many of us are using to get rid of fleas, ticks and other insects – including chemical flea dips and spot-on flea and tick treatments – could be poisoning our pets, causing grave illness and premature death.

Consider the following from the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Each year, Americans purchase and apply to their pets a vast array of toxic chemicals intended to kill fleas and ticks. These include collars, sprays, dusts and more. Many consumers probably assume that the products they use have been subjected to rigorous testing, and must, by virtue of their very ubiquity, be safe. After all, how could the government let deadly poisons be sold on grocery store shelves without applying stringent standards?

The simple truth, however, is that the poisons in many of these products are not safe, either for pets or humans. Government regulation of these products has been sketchy, and testing of their impact in the home has been inadequate. The result is that many of the products sold by the millions in grocery, drug and pet supply stores, even when applied as instructed on the box, can cause serious health consequences to pets and humans. Read the rest of this article by the NRDC.

If you want more reasons to use natural flea repellents and insect control products rather than toxic chemicals, here is an abstract of a study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health linking pet bladder cancer to home pesticide use:

Pet Bladder Cancer Linked to Home Pesticide Use

SOURCE: Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health; 28 (4). 1989. 407-414

A case-control study of household dogs was conducted to determine if exposure to sidestream cigarette smoke and chemicals in the home, use of topical insecticides, and obesity are associated with the occurrence of bladder cancer. Information was obtained by interview from owners of 59 dogs with transitional-cell carcinoma of the bladder and 71 age- and breed size-matched control dogs with other chronic diseases or neoplasms. Bladder cancer risk was unrelated to sidestream cigarette smoke and household chemical exposures. Risk was significantly increased by topical insecticide use. When dogs were given 1-2 topical pesticide applications per year, there was a 60% increased risk of bladder cancer. When animals were given more than 2 pesticide applications per year there was a 3.5 times increased risk for the animal developing bladder cancer (chitrend; p = .008). This risk was enhanced in overweight or obese dogs. Further studies of this canine model may facilitate identification of specific carcinogens present in insecticides commonly used on pet animals and in the environment.

Department of Pathobiology
Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907

It is pretty amazing (and frightening) that dogs who were given just 1 – 2 topical pesticide applications per year showed a 60% increased risk of bladder cancer.

If you do use spot-on dog flea treatments and tick products on your pet (and I urge you to read further for natural flea repellents to use instead), the NRDC has put together a list of more than 100 flea and tick products and rated them according to their potential health risk.

Check the NRDC’s toxicity rating of your pet’s flea and tick product.

We all want ways to protect our yards, homes and pets from fleas and other insects without the use of toxic chemicals, so when we hear the word “natural”, we figure it must be safe. However, not all natural pesticides are created equal, and some may be deadly in their own right. After all, just visit our page on poisonous plants for dogs for a list of harmful plants and flowers. Just because something is “natural” certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t toxic.

Pyrethrins are the perfect example. Pyrethrins are natural insecticides made from chrysanthemums. While pyrethrins are listed in the PAN (Pesticide Action Network) Pesticides Database as having “slight” acute toxicity, they are also listed as “possible” carcinogens.

In addition, according to a 2008 report by The Center for Public Integrity titled "Safe" Pesticides Now First in Poisonings, “pyrethrins and pyrethroids were responsible for more than 26 percent of all major and moderate human incidents involving pesticides in the United States in 2007, up from just 15 percent in 1998 — a 67 percent increase. This is based on an analysis of adverse reaction reports filed with the Environmental Protection Agency by pesticide manufacturers.”

These “safer” pesticides are used in products many of us use every day, such as pet shampoos, bug repellents and head lice treatments.

Fortunately, there are natural flea repellents and insect control products we can choose that are safe for our pets, our children and our environment and that are every bit as effective (if not more) than the dangerous, toxic alternatives.

I have recently discovered a company called Cedar Oil Industries, which makes an entire line of natural flea repellents and pesticides using natural cedar oil. Cedar oil is a natural, green, organic pesticide. Cedar Oil Industries’ natural flea repellents and insect eradicators are non-toxic to our pets, children, planet and ourselves – yet they kill fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other unwanted insects within seconds.

Consider the following from the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Cedar Oil Industries' products do not contain poisons or toxins and are safe for our pets, our families and desirable insects such as butterflies and honeybees. All Cedar Oil Industries' products are safe, effective natural flea repellents and pest eradicators.

Please do your research and choose safe natural flea repellents and pesticides such as those by Cedar Oil Industries. After all, you want to kill the pests, not your pets!

And, if at any time you think your pooch has been exposed to dog toxins, contact a pet poison control center such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) and rush your dog to your veterinarian or the nearest emergency veterinary facility.

For more information on what to do if your pet is exposed to poison, read our article, "What to do if Your Pet is Poisoned.

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