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Have you heard of Seresto collars? They're flea and tick collars for dogs and sound like the perfect alternatives to the chemicals we put on our dogs. When I first learned about them, I was interested, but didn't bother looking further because my dogs didn't wear collars and I didn't think they'd do well with these. Turns out that their penchant NOT to wear collars was a good thing because reports are now showing that Seresto flea and tick collars have been linked to over 75,000 injuries and nearly 1,700 pet deaths. There have even been injuries to humans linked to these collars.
This is a big world and I'm sure that there are plenty of pets that do fine with these collars. This post is for people who either have had a negative experience with these collars or have read about them and would prefer not to risk injuries (or death) with their pets.
So, what's the alternative?
In this post, I'm going to share 5 natural alternatives to Seresto flea and tick collars, providing the pros and cons of each. Please note that every dog is different and I can only speak to my experience with my dogs, living in Western Washington.
Why We Need to Protect Our Dogs from Fleas and Ticks
Other than the discomfort flea bites cause, there is a risk of illness with fleas and ticks. I learned about flea allergies when I started blogging and I was shocked – dogs can be allergic to fleas? Well, kind of – they're actually allergic to the flea saliva. Plus fleas can transmit disease from animal to animal – they just need to bite an infected animal. That's something that helped spread the plague – fleas biting infected rats and then biting humans. Bastards!!!
And then there are ticks. They freak me out because of the long list of diseases ticks can transmit to our dogs:
- Lyme Disease
- Powassan Virus Disease
- Borrelia miyamotoi Disease
- Borrelia mayonii Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
So, I get that it's important to protect our dogs and the idea of reaching for a collar makes this step in raising dogs so much easier. But is it safer? And is it natural?
Why I Don't Like Seresto Flea and Tick Collars
Besides the fact that I don't put collars on my dogs (except Apollo, who loves his collars), I'm not a fan of Seresto flea and tick collars because I don't like putting any chemicals against my dogs' skin or close to their brain. Plus, check out the injuries people are reporting…
- allergic reaction at the site where the collar sits on the dog; I've seen pics of dogs with raw skin and it looks painful.
- seizures in dogs and humans; we are at risk because we pet, hug, and sleep with our dogs.
- death; there have been nearly 1,700 deaths to date and the EPA has yet to respond and veterinarians are calling for calm.
There are so many natural options that have worked with my dogs that I don't have to accept the risk of using Seresto collars; even if some believe the risk is small. And if you're not convinced that Seresto collars may be dangerous, check out this post from holistic veterinarian Dr. Laurie Coger: Why I Don't Recommend Seresto Collars
5 Natural Alternatives to Seresto Flea and Tick Collars
The following are 5 alternatives to Seresto flea and tick collars. We've had success with all of the following and I like to use a few of these in rotation because I worry about bugs becoming immune to my methods. Stupid smart bugs!
So here goes…
1 – Essential Oils
I love essential oils. I was introduced to them six years ago and have created a large collection of oils from animalEO, Plant Therapy, and Simply Earth. Dr. Melissa Shelton, founder of animalEO, has formulated amazing blends that are safe for pets and I alternate the following to repel fleas and ticks:
As I stated above, I prefer to alternate products because I believe that using one product over an extended period of time can result in it being less effective. Plus, every dog is unique, so what works for one dog may not work for another – therefore, I alternate.
What I love about animalEO is that I can put these on my dogs without fear of causing injury. The “RTU” means ready to use; I can use these directly from the bottle or I can dilute them further if the scent is still too strong for one of my dogs. So far, I haven't had to do this with these oils.
Although it's tempting, I do not recommend buying random oils from other brands and using them in place of animalEO. While I was a skeptic for a long time, I've been using these oils for more than six months and I have not been disappointed. (Thanks again for the friendly reminders, Diane).
And before you tell me that essential oils are dangerous for pets, please take a moment and visit Dr. Shelton's website to learn more. She also has a valuable desk reference guide for using her oils with pets.
2 – Kin+Kind Flea & Tick Dog and Cat Spray
I started using Kin+Kind Flea and Tick Spray in 2020 after trying to figure out if Wondercide was still effective on my dogs. They changed an ingredient after they lost sourcing and the social media world had a mild meltdown. Usually, I roll my eyes at these things, but this time around I paid attention. And the news of Wondercide's change inspired me to check out other products and in walks Kin+Kind.
It works great for my dogs.
Kin+Kind recently announced a new relationship with Phillips Pet Food & Supplies that will expand its distribution across the US. So if you weren't able to get Kin+Kind in the past, check with your local independent pet store about adding Kin+Kind to their store shelves before flea/tick season starts.
3 – CocoTherapy Coconut Oil
I love coconut oil for many reasons and use it daily in our home both for health and beauty. It's a great product to have on hand because it has so many benefits, including serving as a flea repellent. I massage coconut oil into my dogs' coats between baths to freshen their coat and make them less attractive to bugs.
When we apply coconut oil to the coat, our dogs' hairs act like a candle wick, allowing the coconut oil to move down the hair shaft and to the skin, spreading around the body as our dogs move. Coconut oil repels fleas and ticks on contact. When coconut oil is on the skin and coat, it coats the exoskeleton of fleas, ticks, and any other annoying bug, suffocating them and making it hard for them to move. Plus, since coconut oil has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to prevent bug bites from becoming infected.
4 – Cedarcide Topical Flea & Tick Spray
If you or your dog has a sensitivity to cedar, then this may not be the right product for you. However, if allergies aren't a concern, then add Cedarcide to your list of natural alternatives.
Cedarcide is chemical-free; it uses plants to kill and repel bugs that bite (fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, bed bugs, mites, and chiggers). I don't even know what chiggers are but they sound gross and creepy. Anyway, Cedarcide works on contact; I simply spray my dogs with a light mist, massage the product into their coat, and we're good to go. The brand boasts a 99% kill rate for fleas. The product not only kills bugs on our dog, it repels bugs as well.
I've used Cedarcide for years, alternating it with Wondercide, and it's consistently worked for us.
5 – Wondercide Topical & Indoor Flea & Tick Spray
Wondercide is an old favorite that I've strayed away from over the past year when I was introduced to other options out there. And while I don't currently use Wondercide, I don't mind having it in the rotation with my dogs.
A few years ago, people freaked out because Wondercide changed an ingredient in their formula. Someone even tried to sue them for the change – claiming that their products are no longer “natural.” The lawsuit was either canceled or tossed out and while it inspired my search for more natural flea and tick repellents, the lawsuit didn't turn me off of this brand.
Wondercide uses essential oils to repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. What I like about Wondercide is that they offer several scents – so if you or your dog is allergic to cedar, there are other options:
Build a Anti-Flea Flower Garden
While you're stocking up on natural flea and tick repellents, consider building a flower garden with plants that repels fleas and ticks too. The following are plants that are easy to grow that also repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes – Oh My!
Before you choose your plants, make sure there are no risks to your dogs. For instance, rosemary extract/oil can trigger seizures in some dogs. I don't think the plant brings the same risk, but if you have a dog prone to seizures, you might want to check with your vet before heading off to the nursery. My dogs don't have any sensitivities to the above plants and they don't eat my plants/flowers, so I feel comfortable adding a few of these to my yard. You know your dog best, so choose plants that are a good fit for your dog.
Because fleas like shaded areas, I've decided the plant rosemary and thyme in the shaded areas of the dogs' yard. I love gardening. Kind of.
What About Garlic?
First of all, nooooo, garlic IS NOT toxic to dogs. So many people are spreading this myth and I wish it would end. I even see vets and vet techs warning people away from garlic when it has so many benefits.
The benefits of garlic for dogs include:
- natural and safe flea and tick repellent – bugs don't like the taste of garlic
- boosts the immune system
- fights cancer cells
- boosts liver health and rids the body of toxins
- fights infections (bacterial, viral, fungal)
- fights parasites
- lowers cholesterol
- boosts the metabolism
Garlic should not be fed to puppies or to dogs with anemia or hemangiosarcoma.
If you're interested in trying out fresh garlic (never use the jarred minced garlic), the dosage, per Dr. Pitcairn (The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats) is as follows:
|Pounds||Kilograms||Amount of Garlic|
|10-15 lbs||4.5-6.8 kg||1/2 clove|
|20-40 lbs||9.1-18.1 kg||1 clove|
|45-70 lbs||20.4-31.8 kg||2 cloves|
|75-90 lbs||34.0-40.8 kg||2-1/2 cloves|
|100 lbs and more||45.5 kg and more||3 cloves|
I don't use garlic to repel fleas and ticks because of how it needs to be given to dogs. It has to be smushed up and sit for 20 minutes and then fed to the dogs. I already have a pretty involved feeding routing, I don't want to add another step. So, I purchased Springtime Bug Off Garlic Granules for Dogs last year as another option. Following the recommended dosage on the container, I don't worry about reaching toxic levels with my dogs.
I haven't used the garlic granules enough to confirm or deny their effectiveness, however, I have spoken to many pet parents who swear by this Springtime product.
What About Diatomaceous Earth?
For years, I've heard about the wonders of food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) – it's the flea killer we can eat!!! But is DE all that it's cracked up to be? Personally, I don't know if it works or not. I've heard from some who swear by DE, while others have not seen the benefits.
Diatomaceous earth is comprised of the fossilized remains of teeny sea creatures (don't come for me, I don't feel like looking this up). It works by drying out the exoskeleton of fleas and ticks, killing them. That sounds great, right? Just sprinkle it on our dogs' coat and they're flea/tick free! The downside to DE is that we and our dogs can breath it in during application, which isn't good for us.
With so many other products on the market that I know work, I decided to leave diatomaceous earth on the store shelves.
Spring is days away and those spring flowers are accompanied by bugs. Lots of biting, annoying bugs and the products I mentioned above protect my dogs against fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Allowing us to enjoy our property and the warmer weather.
I hope this helps.