…Beware of this popular, highly toxic, flea collar. Plus safe, natural flea repellents you can make!

By Katy Cable-TWR-A 3 Min Read

Fleas suck! -Pun intended! Unlike bees that pollinate our planet and keep us alive, or ants who are brilliant little armies of team players, capable of carrying an entire picnic a GA-ZILLION times their own size and body weight on their tiny backs, what purpose do fleas and ticks serve anyway?

Here in Southern California fleas can be year-round invaders. With the dog days of summer well on their way, your pup may be wearing more than a cute collar and bandana. This spring, no matter where you live, chances are these blood-sucking monsters are just waiting to spread like wildfire on your pet.

Before you race out for some flea protection, beware. Seresto, the #1 selling flea collar on Amazon, is potentially lethal! According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents, as of June 2020, the agency had received 75,000 incident reports about Seresto pet collars since their introduction in 2012, including 1,698 deaths of animals and nearly 1,000 incidents involving harm to humans.

And that’s just what has been reported. Typically, pet parents would not know to report pet harm to the EPA, an agency seemingly unrelated to consumer pet products. Because these products contain pesticides, they are regulated by the EPA.

The main issue seems to be that the Seresto collar is the only flea and tick collar that combines a cocktail of two powerful pesticides. While that may make the collars more effective against fleas, they are far more toxic to pets as well as humans. One incident involving a 12-year-old boy who slept in bed with a dog wearing the collar resulted in the boy being hospitalized due to seizures and vomiting.

Along with growing evidence that mammals can also be harmed by these pesticides, they are also harming the environment. This insecticide, (imidacloprid) most commonly used as an insecticide on crops in the U.S. is linked to massive die-offs of bees, butterflies, and songbirds.

While a congressional committee is demanding a voluntary recall, Elanco (the manufacturer of Senesto) is backing its product. According to Tony Rumschlag, senior director for technical consultants at Elanco, “Thorough investigation of available data has shown no established link between exposure to the active ingredients in Seresto and pet deaths.” He went on to state that no market action is warranted and that media reports on hundreds of pet deaths are based on “raw data.”

Whatever action is or isn’t taken, the risks seem too high for me personally. I don’t want to take any chances. I also want you to have the facts and research. Especially when these products are currently being sold in most pet stores and on Amazon.

While I prefer to use natural, non-toxic, remedies, sometimes they don’t provide enough protection. I have found the best balance for my pet is to use a strong flea and tick preventative in the spring and late summer. For the rest of the year, I use the natural home remedies provided below.

When I rescued my current Pug Olive she was on Revolution, a monthly flea and heartworm preventative. Although Olive doesn’t have fleas, she did suffer a terrible allergic reaction to a flea bite. I raced sneezing, coughing, incessantly itching Olive to her vet. Upon examination, the vet discovered red bumps all over her and diagnosed it was an allergic reaction to a flea bite. I couldn’t see how that was possible as she was on flea preventative. The vet explained that even with protection, fleas can jump on and bite a pet before dying. If a pet is allergic, that’s all it takes.

After Olive’s incident, I became extremely diligent about washing her and keeping fleas away. I have discovered some excellent natural alternatives to products containing harsh chemicals. I currently apply organic coconut oil, to Olive’s coat. It acts as both a great moisturizer and flea repellent. I also make sure to bathe her following adventures where she may have been exposed to fleas. I also am SO happy I replaced all my carpets with wood and tile flooring and “knock-on-wood” haven’t had another issue.

Believe me, it’s much easier to keep fleas away in the first place than it is to get those pests to leave once they’ve invaded. My advice, use something strong and powerful to kill them then hopefully you can lighten up and use some natural, less toxic remedies to keep them at bay.

This does bring up a good point: It certainly doesn’t have to be a harsh, toxic chemical for your pet to have a horrific reaction. While natural products are preferred, even those can have disastrous outcomes if your pet has a rare allergy. Just like a human who can’t touch a strawberry or a peanut. -Be it an unsalted, raw, one or Reese’s cup, pets too can have adverse reactions or even die from wholesome, organic products if they happen to be allergic. Before trying ANY product or food, I urge you to first research it. Check out the company, the ingredients, and where it’s produced. Talk to trusted vets and pet parents and always test it out with a very small amount first.

In addition, fleas, ticks, and other parasites may be resistant to some natural, less intense, repellents and your pet won’t be protected. Hopefully, you can try a few of these tips and find a perfect, less toxic balance. And, as always, a clean healthy pet with a strong immune system will naturally repel more parasites than a sickly one. That starts and finishes with a nutritious, balanced diet 😃.

Every flea season I consult with frustrated pet parents looking for flea repellent shampoos. I always advise against strong, harsh, shampoos loaded with chemicals. Any soap and water will kill and remove fleas. For heavy infestations, here’s a recipe for a gentle, non-toxic, flea repelling shampoo you can make at home. I use this on my shelter/rescue dogs who typically arrive in poor shape, and infested with fleas. Again, always sample a small amount first to check for adverse reactions.

​Slice 1/2 lemon and add to 1 cup boiling water.
Stir for 5 minutes then remove from heat, steep and cool.
Remove lemon parts, drain juice into a large canning jar or bottle.
​Add 2/3 cup Dr. Bronner’s Purecastle Soap
Add 1/2 cup organic Apple cider vinegar
1 TBS organic coconut oil
15 drops pure organic lavender oil
Mix together and WASH your PUP! In addition, here are some recommendations for healthy flea/tick control:

🐾 Remember, there is simply no chemical-based pest control pill, dip, solution, shampoo, or collar that is without the potential for side effects. Just because a compound is applied to or worn on your pet’s fur doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. Remember: what goes ON your pet goes IN your pet, by absorption through the skin during grooming.

  1. Be very careful to follow dosing directions on the label. If your pet is at the low end of a dosage range, step down to the next lowest dosage. Be extremely cautious with small dogs, especially if you own one of the breeds reported to be at high risk for adverse reactions. Do not under any circumstances apply dog product to your cat. Or vice-versa.
  2. Monitor your pet for adverse reactions after you apply a chemical product — especially when using one for the first time.
  3. Your pet’s liver will be on overdrive due to the flood of chemicals that make it into the bloodstream. It can be very beneficial to give your dog or cat a supplement of milk thistle to help detoxify their liver. You need to consult with a holistic/integrated vet for proper dosage.
  4. Don’t depend exclusively on chemical treatments. Rotate natural preventives containing lavender, peppermint, geranium, lemongrass cedar oil/or citronella. These are very effective as parasite deterrents. Many pet stores carry natural products with these blends. For many pet owners, rotating these every other month works well. In many parts of the country, owners find they can successfully control ticks/fleas with 2 doses a year: one in the spring and one in the late summer.
  5. Apply liberal amounts of coconut oil to the belly and rear-end. This is a natural flea repellent. -And moisturizer.
  6. A great NATURAL, SAFE flea deterrent is to boil rosemary and lemon slices for 5 minutes in a saucepan filled with water. Remove from heat and let steep overnight covered. Drain the water into a spray bottle and fill 1/2 way. Add organic apple cider vinegar to the other half of the bottle. Spray on pet AVOIDING FACE before heading outside.

Hopefully, with these warnings and easy tips, blood-sucking monsters will not be a bother and your pet can manage on safer, natural remedies! Pugs and kisses! Katy Cable🐾💕 🐾

Katy Cable is a former actress appearing in “Back To The Future” and starring in the TV series: “Safe At Home” & “ Fired Up!” In addition to her dog health & lifestyle blog/vlog: The Weekly Runt, (https://www.weeklyrunt.com/) she’s a contributing writer to numerous publications including Thrive Global, & The Huffington Post. Cable lives at the beach with her husband, Rick and her rescue Pug, Olive.🐾

Originally published at https://www.weeklyrunt.com.

I love PUGS, cappuccinos and bad carbs. Spent my life as an actress, writer and now pet activist. Here’s “A little Kibble” if your children have paws!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store