Fleas & Ticks

Spring and Summer typically bring lots of fun and outdoor adventures which most of us look forward to. But we do not relish the higher abundance of pesky insects and parasites that may affect our pets.

Conventional Flea & Tick Prevention

Many of our clients express concerns about using conventional flea & tick products in the form of oral and topical monthly medications, many of which are laden with toxic ingredients.

It is always best to avoid using toxins in/on our pets and in our own environments. In some cases, we may need to choose our battles based on how challenging the flea/tick problem is to tackle.

Fortunately in the geographical region of Southern California, the use of pharmaceutical flea & tick products can be avoided through most or all of the year. For many, these products may be minimized to only a few times of use during the summer season.
There are growing concerns regarding the numbers of adverse effects being seen with conventional flea & tick medications, those that generally come in a pill form. Many reports cite dogs having neurological reactions, tremors, seizures, behavioral changes, liver damage and GI illness. It is known that these products contain chemical pesticide ingredients that act as neurotoxins to kill the parasites via effects on the insect’s nervous system.

Initially, the products were proposed to be quite safe for dogs as the active toxic ingredients were thought to be selective to arthropods (insects). But it is now obvious that these neurotoxins can affect our pets too. In fact, many of the manufacturers have had to adjust their label warnings to include mention of the adverse effects.

Some of the topical spot-on products don’t include these same types of pesticides, but still contain chemicals that can be toxic. Furthermore, new studies are reporting that chemical pesticides from topical flea & tick products are being measured at concerning levels in our waterways, rivers, and sewer run-offs. Thus, we see that the growing popularity of using “spot-on” pesticides for our pets is now contributing to environmental toxicity too.

So, how can we avoid using chemicals and still keep our pets free of fleas & ticks? 
There are many safe and useful options that can be effective, the key to success is to use them consistently and correctly.

Below are Dr. Katie’s most recommended natural, non-toxic options for flea and tick prevention.

Foods & Supplements to Manage Fleas & Ticks

Protection begins with a healthy, species-appropriate fresh food or raw food diet that is low in carbohydrate content.

Simply said, a healthy dog will attract less fleas than a pet with a weakened immune system or chronic disease. i.e. Processed foods with high carbohydrate content promote more inflammation, disease, and immune deficiency.

The foods listed below may be added into your pet’s diet to provide extra immune support and more resilience to parasites.

1) Fresh garlic has natural anti-parasite and immune support properties and is quite safe for dogs when given in small, appropriate quantities. Giving ¼ tsp of freshly chopped garlic per 15 lbs. of dog body weight is a great daily routine during flea & tick season (or year-round)

Note: garlic in a powder or capsule supplement will not have the same effects as fresh chopped garlic

2) Raw honey is a wonderful (and yummy) immune system booster. Add about ½ tsp per 15 lbs. dog body weight per day. Benefits are greater with locally produced honey, to provide immune supportive properties which combats allergens in your specific region.

Proactively support the immune system with specific natural supplements.

Routine or seasonal detoxification can go a long way to support your pet’s resilience and overall health. Safe and gentle detox options include homeopathic remedies and liver & kidney protective herbs like milk thistle and dandelion.

Daily Defense (Glacier Peak Holistics) is an excellent choice for seasonal or year-round use. This supplement can be added to the food once daily, and contains nutrients which support immune system function, resilience to parasites, and specific detoxification benefits too.

Natural Options for Flea & Tick Prevention

Below are some natural options for flea & tick repellents which may be used directly on pets or in their environment.

Natural products will require more frequent application/use in order to come close to the efficacy of chemical products and prescription medications.

Fleas are generally easier to repel or kill compared to ticks which are more resilient and typically require stronger agents. When it comes to ticks, nothing can take the place of diligent tick checks on your dog after time spent outside. Using a fine-tooth flea comb can also be an effective way to find ticks or fleas, and a tick removal tool can come in very handy too.

Keep in mind that fleas live more in the environment than on the pet, so if you are finding them on your pet, you will need to address your home environment as well.

Dr. Mercola Flea & Tick Defense

It’s not the individual elements that make Flea & Tick Defense so effective, it’s the expert blending and balancing of the Brazilian oils with the pure water. This is what distinguishes a natural deterrent product from just natural ingredients.

The Flea & Tick Defense can be used by itself or in combination with other pest repellent products for maximum protection.



Tick Stick

The Tick Stick is an ideal tool for removing ticks, as it:

  • Allows you to hold the tick without compressing it and remove it by using a twisting rather than a pulling motion that can ‘lock’ the tick in place.
  • Works with the tick’s rostrum structure instead of against it. As you twist the Tick Stick, the tick’s spikes bend into the axis of rotation, making the tick easier to remove.
  • Is reusable and convenient to use whenever needed.

AnimalEO Essential Oils
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EVICT – Cedarwood oil has become a popular “anti-bug” recommendation, but often without safety, quality, and the addition of questionable ingredients being considered in popular products. Evict is a cedarwood based blend – and a wonderful addition to our anti-bug, anti-odor, and animal safe line up.

AWAY – A blend ideal to keep odors and insects AWAY! Great for diffusion, water misting, in laundry, and for insect repelling needs with dogs, horses, cows, and other large animals.

FLEE BOMB  – This blend is so powerful, that it is recommended that humans, animals, and fish tanks be removed from the rooms (and possibly the home) while administering a “bomb” treatment.  If the area to be treated can be confined, some people have been successful in treating one room at a time, moving their diffuser from room to room, and evacuating to a distant part of the home.

If you have fragile animals, it is likely best to have them leave the home completely.  Diffusion with an air style diffuser (also called an atomizing diffuser) is mandatory for this application – which is not the typical style of diffuser that I would usually recommend.  Diffuser World carries the Aroma-Ace Essential Oil Atomizing Diffuser – which is often the model we will use for this purpose.


Beneficial Nematodes (Steinernema Carpocapsae) is a great option for natural parasite control in your yard or outdoor space. Nematodes are used to protect gardens and plants from ants and caterpillars, but also provide effective prevention for fleas & ticks, as they feed on these insect’s larvae stages while they are still in the soil. Check your local garden centers to get these nematodes.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits and can also be used to deter fleas. Mixed with water in equal parts (50/50) solution, ACV can be misted or applied onto your dog before heading outdoors.

Neem Oil
Neem is a tree native to India, and is highly valued for its wide range of medicinal properties offered by the bark, flowers and oil extracted from its seeds. One of the many health benefits of Neem oil is its natural insecticidal properties. Neem is used in organic agriculture to protect crops from insects and is very safe and effective to use for pets and people too.

DIY Flea & Tick Spray
Here is a recipe offered by Dr. Karen Becker for a home-made flea & tick repellent spray.

For Dogs –

  • 8 oz clean, filtered water
  • 4 oz organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • 10 drops Neem oil
  • 10 drops Catnip oil
  • 5 drops of one of the following choices of EOs: lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus or geranium

    Add all the ingredients to a large spray bottle and shake well.
    Spray your pup before heading out for a walk, paying special attention to the legs, belly, and neck.

    For Cats –

    • 8 oz clean, filtered water
    • 4 oz organic raw apple cider vinegar
    • 10 drops Neem oil
    • 10 drops Catnip oil

    Add all the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake well.
    Spray a cloth or your hands and wipe down your kitty’s belly, back and neck.


    Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – Topical and Environment Applications
    DE provides a safe and natural option which can be used inside your home, directly on pets and also outdoors in the yard. DE is a silky fine powder that acts as a desiccant or drying agent to effectively kill fleas and their larvae.

    Only choose a quality food grade DE (not industrial grade) which can be sprinkled on your pet’s bedding, as well as carpets, furniture, and anywhere else your pet spends a lot of time. Leave the DE dust down for about 24 hours and then vacuum.

    You can also apply DE directly into your pet’s hair coat and skin, but completely avoid their face, eyes, nose and mouth. It may be ideal to bathe your pet about 24 hours later too, because DE can potentially dry out their skin as well.
    Learn more

    Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – Food Topper

    DERMagic’s Diatomaceous Earth Dust, made from food grade diatomaceous earth, is a perfect and simple addition to your pet’s bowl, helping to repel fleas from the inside out.

    Diatomaceous Earth dosing (Food grade). Add to food once daily –

    0-25 lbs: 1/2 tsp / day

    25-50 lbs: 1 tsp / day

    50-75 lbs: 2 tsp / day

    > 75 lbs: 1 TBS / day