Cold Weather Is On the Way Out…What Does That Mean for Your Pets?
As the first buds of spring turn into full leaves, it’s clear warmer weather is near. While many are ready to throw on their swimsuits and embrace that long-awaited summer sunshine, there’s more to consider than what to wear: the health and safety of your pets.
When the temperature starts to rise, a variety of plant and animal species that have burrowed underground, simply biding their time through a long and cold winter, will return to life.
Unfortunately, this includes ticks and fleas.
With summer in the air, your dog is just as eager as you are to enjoy warmer weather. But before you take off the leash and let them roam freely, you’ll want to ensure your dog is protected from dangerous pests.
What Repels Ticks in Dogs Naturally?
You care about your dogs like they’re your own flesh and blood. You want to do as much as possible to protect them from fleas and ticks, which can carry harmful bacteria that cause Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and may harbor parasites like tapeworms.
So how do you keep your dog safe without slathering them with chemical salves and lotions?
Easy – essential oil tick and flea repellent!
At Best Bee Brothers, we’re always on the lookout for effective natural solutions whenever possible – particularly when it concerns health and safety. So we did a little digging and eventually came up with our very own home remedy to get rid of ticks and fleas.
Our All Natural Mosquito & Tick Repellent utilizes a powerful combination of lemon eucalyptus oil, mint oil, camphor oil, and lemon oil. These natural botanical oils have been proven to repel numerous types of insects, and the combination smells great!
What Is the Safest Flea & Tick Prevention for Dogs?
Here is where things start to get a little fuzzy. There is a sharp dividing line in the veterinary community as to whether the regulated products for flea and tick control, which typically contain pesticides such as permethrin, are safer than essential oils.
If you’re mentally cringing at the word “pesticide,” especially with the application of one on your dog...we understand. However, the sounding board of medical professionals that are in favor of using topical or edible chemical variants in treating fleas and ticks argue that these products have been extensively vetted by the FDA and the EPA before they can be sold publicly. Therefore, the logic goes that their efficacy has already been proven in clinical trials.
In contrast, it is widely accepted that some essential oils are “harmless” to humans and therefore not required to be analyzed in case studies or trials before being sold in stores. That means there is no governing scientific body to back the long-term effects of essential oils. While many plant-derived oils are, by and large, safe for human use (particularly in small quantities), they can be dangerous for your pets if used incorrectly.
Let’s take a closer look.
Not All Oils Are Created Equal
According to the American Kennel Club, not all essential oils are safe alternatives for protecting your pets. In fact, in an article published in 2018, “Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?,” the AKC states that “some essential oils are poisonous to dogs. This includes oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang. These oils are toxic whether ingested by mouth or spread on the skin.” 1 The quality and source of essential oils, as well as their processing, can also be a factor.
Are you shocked to hear that? Well, don’t be – it’s important to know that “natural” does not always mean safe. There are a lot of “natural” substances that would poison human beings if ingested. The same goes for your pets.
On the flip side, one very popular essential oil who’s calming and sedative properties have been extensively tested in humans and their canine-counterparts is lavender oil. A true “full spectrum” aid, lavender oil not only works as a natural antimicrobial and bug repellent, a 2006 study concluded that diluted applications of lavender oil actually decreased the amount of stress and travel-induced anxiety in dogs.2 The key word here being “diluted”.
One overlooked component of using essential oils on dogs and cats are the inherent differences in their olfactory senses and digestive tracts. Dogs have a much keener sense of smell, and using essential oils in their undiluted forms as preventive measures for ticks and fleas can have unintended consequences. The symptoms can range from skin irritation to behavior changes to digestive problems.
An easy mistake to make with natural remedies is with the application of essential oils. For example, lemon eucalyptus is an active ingredient in our natural tick and flea repellent, and has been found to be effective for repelling pests, according to the CDC.3 However, most people don’t know the difference between lemon eucalyptus (sometimes called a lemon-scented gum tree) and eucalyptus oil. While the former has a nice lemony scent and is safer (when properly diluted) for your canine companion, eucalyptus oil is actually quite toxic to dogs and can have potentially lethal effects. Similarly, different types of mint can be unsafe for your pet. As the AKC notes, peppermint is poisonous to dogs, but is a different plant from the mint oil we use in our repellent.
If you are attempting to make any DIY natural solutions in your own kitchen, assume ingredients for home remedies could harm your pet and ask your vet. That said, we never recommend using essential oils on cats.
Note: According to PetMD, “Unlike dogs and humans, cats lack glucuronosyltransferase enzymes, which are liver enzymes that are needed to safely metabolize the chemicals found in most essential oils.” 4 This means even in their diluted form, essential oils can be potentially very harmful to your cat's overall health.
Do Your Homework
Whether you choose to take the more traditional path in tick and flea protection or opt for a more holistic treatment plan, do your research beforehand. Ultimately, the person most qualified to assess the health and safety of any flea and tick treatment is your vet, who can determine whether your dog has any health- or age-related issues that may contraindicate essential oils. If you and your vet agree to go the natural route, we’re always here to help.
To learn more about tick season, check out our Tick Hot Map.
- Anna Burke, “Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs? There Are Quite a Few Risks Involved,” American Kennel Club, February 21, 2020, www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/are-essential-oils-safe-for-dogs/.
- Wells DL. Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2006 Sep 15;229(6):964-7. doi: 10.2460/javma.229.6.964. PMID: 16978115.
- John-Paul Mutebi and John E. Gimnig, “Environmental Hazards & Other Noninfectious Health Risks,” Yellow Book, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed March 4, 2021, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/noninfectious-health-risks/mosquitoes-ticks-and-other-arthropods.
- Natalie Stilwell, “Is It Safe to Use Essential Oils for Fleas and Ticks on Pets?,” PetMD, July 9, 2020, www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/it-safe-use-essential-oils-fleas-and-ticks-pets.