Flea and tick season is right around the corner here in Humboldt. With that comes our usual flea and tick medications, most of which are commonly some form or another of ectoparasiticides. It comes up all the time that many of us have never thought about these medications as a pesticide, let alone the impact they may have on our pets or the environment around us.
As far as the impacts on our pets, the EPA and FDA are often testing and updating product regulations and restrictions. It is most commonly found that small dogs are impacted by these topical pesticides more so than larger breeds, as well as cats being affected by the misuse of dosages. These effects can include everything from irritation and chemical burns to more severe side effects such as lasting neurological damage and seizures. While these instances are rather rare, lending to products being generally understood as safe, these things do happen and can be more common in certain breeds or age groups.
Another impact that is important to take into consideration is the impact on our environment. Whether that be the home environment, our little pocket of beauty that is Humboldt County, or the environment as a whole. Recent studies have shown that biocontamination from flea and tick medication is on the rise. Water samples from rivers acquired in a study in the UK showed that the most common pesticidal ingredients were found in a majority of their samples. Highest concentrations of which are within dangerous levels to impact local wildlife and ecosystems. These contaminants can be entering waterways after being washed off treated pets, bedding, hands contaminated and washed, or even our pets going for a swim or rain washing off the medication.
What can we do? Terminating or minimizing the use of pesticide medication either permanently or simply during the off-season when fleas and ticks aren't as active can help reduce contamination and minimize the risk to our pets as well.
Alternatively, using holistic treatment on our pets can remove most if not all the risks. These methods for topical will typically include essential oils from clove, geranium, peppermint, lemongrass, cedarwood, or a combination of these. Products like Ark Natural's Flea Flicker Tick Kicker and Wondercide's suite of sprays can deter and even kill ticks, fleas, and mosquitos effectively and safely! Homemade treatments can be concocted as well. Using diatomaceous earth around the house can also help cut down on infestations around the home.
Ingestables are another option, such as Bug Off from Wildly Blended can help create inhospitable environments for all sorts of pests. This powder will slowly alter the scent of your pet, making it undesirable to insects, but unnoticeable to humans. A healthy immune system creates an inhospitable environment for insects and parasites, making it less likely for them to take up residence in and on your pet. Holistic ingestables in conjunction with topical deterrents can greatly improve the efficacy of holistic methods all while keeping your pets, family, and the environment safe.