Eight steps to choosing a safe flea product for your dog

The most expensive isn't the best when it comes to flea products

Flea problems are one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of living with a dog. The pesky little insects have had hundreds of thousands of years to evolve and perfect their life cycle to make sure that their family tree thrives and does not wither away. Unfortunately, their resilience and adaptability make it much harder to keep an average dog flea free.

Fleas had a heyday until the rise of chemical-based flea products a few decades ago! However, the introduction of powerful drug-based flea control came with a price – serious side effects. Pretty much every single major flea product comes with a history and risk of death after administration.

The success and failure of conventional medicine

It is true that some drugs and conventional medical treatments can be life-saving, especially in life and death situations and emergencies. 

However, conventional western medicine has been much less successful when it comes to disease prevention, chronic disease treatment and cancer prevention.

The pharmaceutical industry has worked very hard to make people believe that treating a disease means taking a drug. There is a pill -for arthritis and pain, a pill for heart disease, kidney problems, high cholesterol, cough, asthma, allergies, diarrhea, thyroid gland problems and auto-immune diseases. The list could be a mile long!

Many people realize that every time they take a drug they are introducing a foreign substance into their body with a high potential for toxicity and side effects. The same applies to their dogs.

The true colour of drug side-effects

Most people are so used to seeing the long-term side effects that they do not even register with them. In fact, dividing the effects of drugs into two categories was a very smart marketing idea. The two terms 'effects' and 'side-effects' gives people a false impression that these two groups are different, while in reality, they are all just the effects of the drugs. 

Reading a drug label may be similar to reading car accident statistics. We acknowledge the likelihood of being in an accident or even dying, but most people assume the chances of such a scenario happening is very low. We simply try not to think about it. 

In the case of taking or administering drugs, it is hard to accept that it can be us or our dogs that become the victims of side-effects because most people try not to think about the worse case scenario.

Flea products and fatalities

The conventional chemically-based flea products are no different. Pretty much every single major flea product on the market causes a multitude of side-effects including death. The details of each product are available on the US Environmental Protection Agency website or in my blog called Flea Product Toxicity Report.

As a veterinarian, I am lucky that none of my patients died as a result of a flea product administration before I stopped using them completely. However, I have seen a few patients get seriously sick and one dog seized immediately after the treatment. It was frightening.

What do most dog lovers do about fleas?

This is one of the main reasons why people have a hard time choosing the right flea product. In the end, most people subconsciously slide into conventional thinking that drugs are more effective than natural products. 

There is also a misconception about the method of product administration. Many people mistakenly believe that an internal product is more effective than a wash, but in reality, the product efficacy has no connection with the method of administration.

How does one choose the right flea product?

The purpose of this article is to give you a few general guidelines that will help make choosing easier.

Here are eight simple steps to choosing the right and the safest flea product for your dog:

  1. Choose a topical product over oral treatment
  2. Choose a residual wash and spray product over a highly concentrated spot treatment that absorbs and stays in the body for a month
  3. Choose a natural product over chemical ones
  4. Read reviews of other dog lovers before you purchase a new product
  5. Pick a product that is not preserved with artificial chemicals
  6. Go with brands not manufactured in China to avoid poor quality or tainted ingredients
  7. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website to see if there are any reports of fatalities related to the product. If there are reported fatalities, do not risk your dog's life by using the product. 
  8. Go for a product that is guaranteed to work so you do not waste your money and can help your dog promptly. 

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A few thoughts on flea product value perceptions

When it comes to prices of conventional drugs and flea products, people are used to them being expensive. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry is the only industry that sells chemicals at a higher cost than natural products!

Think about it. Natural and organic foods are more expensive to source and produce than food full of chemicals and preservatives. 

Fabrics and furniture made of natural materials are also more expensive than their plastic counterparts. 

However, when it comes to flea products, people buy chemically-derived drugs for over a hundred dollars per package, despite the potential of these products killing their dog. 

The paradox is that I often hear people complain about the price of all-natural, fully guaranteed and completely safe flea products that are half of the price of the conventional product.

I believe this happens because drug companies have conditioned us to see their products as more valuable by applying huge markups and hiking up the prices. 

It is no longer the 20th century and you have a choice. When it comes to choosing a flea product, you no longer need to go with drugs that threaten the health and life of your dog. 

Recommended reading:

10 wild and crazy facts about fleas

Can feeding a raw diet prevent fleas?

What flea products are the safest - orals, spot-ons or washes? 

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

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