A lot of pet owners are hesitant to use flea collars, spot-on treatments, dips and sprays that contain insecticides and lean towards natural remedies instead. However, natural remedies can often be more dangerous or even toxic to your pet compared to the alternatives. If you decide to go natural, it is important to discuss treatment options with your veterinarian and to be aware of certain natural ingredients that are actually organic (natural) toxins.
Garlic and Onions
Many people have recommended adding a little bit of brewer’s yeast mixed with some fresh garlic to your dog’s food every day to help combat fleas. Garlic and onions are incredibly toxic to cats: garlic attacks the cat’s red blood cells causing anemia, while onions can cause ulcers and irritation of the stomach. Garlic and onions should never be given to cats. Additionally, brewer’s yeast has actually been shown to be ineffective in combatting fleas.
Natural herbal remedies
The use of essential oils in the treatment of fleas in dogs and cats is both widespread and extremely controversial. A cat’s liver is not as efficient as a dog’s liver; a cat’s liver cannot process compounds (such as phenols and ketones) found in the oils, so they will be stored as toxins and, over time, will cause a toxic reaction. Because the oils are so concentrated, it is easy to apply too much oil to your cat’s skin. This will cause your cat to inhale the fumes and the cat’s skin to burn, the fur to fall out, and eventual death after continued use of the oils. Please be sure to check with your veterinarian before using any form of herbal remedies on your pet.
Toxic for Cats
Black walnut hull
The following oils are likely safe for your dog, but are toxic to cats:
The following oils should be used sparingly because they can cause allergic reactions in humans and severe reactions in both cats and dogs:
- Tea tree
Any product containing pennyroyal oil should be avoided because it can cause seizures, comas and even death in both cats and dogs.
Many natural flea treatment concoctions available on the market today, including sprays and dips, actually contain several of these toxic oils in significant amounts! This is why it is imperative to ask your veterinarian about any type of product (natural or otherwise) that you are considering before you start treating your pet.
Black Walnut Hull
Black walnut hull is available in both capsule and liquid form. It has been recommended in the treatment of fleas in dogs, but it can easily become toxic to dogs if administered in too high of a dose. Additionally, black walnut hull is toxic to cats. Talk to your veterinarian regarding appropriate dosing before giving black walnut hull to your dog.
Because so many natural remedies are considered toxic to dogs and cats, yet are hiding in the ingredients of commercially available products at your local pet store, it is absolutely essential to talk to your veterinarian before you start treating your pet.