With various options for pest control on the market, it’s difficult to know where to turn. Would a collar be better for flea prevention for my cat? Should I give my dog a pill to keep the ticks away? Do any of these products contain chemicals that can harm my beloved furball?
Dr. Killigan provides solutions that are non-toxic, poison-free, and safe when used as directed to use around your children and your pets. We offer non-harmful remedies that are pet-safe. We pride ourselves in being a pet-friendly pest control company, as we too love our cats, our dogs, our birds, and our goats (and various other animals that Dr. Killigan employees own).
Two Pests to Watch Out For if you have Pets
Ticks are parasitic blood-sucking arachnids that, as adults, are about the size of a sesame seed. As nymphs, or juveniles, they are the size of a poppy seed. In all stages of their life, they survive by biting into an animal (or you). These bites are unfortunate, as they can infect you with the bacteria, viruses, or parasites that the ticks carry. Most ticks, though, do not lead to disease. Ticks do not have wings and are flat and oval in appearance until they have a blood meal.
If you have a dog and take your beloved pet on walks in areas that are wooded, brushy, or have tall weeds and grasses, you’re bound to come across a tick or two. They wait, climb on board as their next meal tries to pass them by, and then bite. Once attached, the tick burrows its head into your pet’s skin, gorging itself for several days on its blood before dropping off on its own.
For more on tick removal and how to do it properly, see True or False: Bug Myths Revealed.
It’s important to note that tick bites are painless and do not cause itching. You may not even know that your dog had a tick bite until the blood-sucker drops off, (potentially) leaving a patch of skin that is inflamed, red, and itchy.
Though ticks don’t bother cats with the same frequency as they do dogs, cats can get tick bites as well. If you think that your cat has been in a tick-infested area, check your feline’s abdomen and the tops of her hind legs, as these are blood-rich areas where ticks like to bite. (Understand, though, that a tick can attach itself anywhere on your cat’s body).
Fleas are parasitic blood-sucking insects that know how to jump, having been described as insects that fly with their legs. They, like ticks, feed exclusively on the blood of mammals and are also about the size of a sesame seed. To the naked eye, they look small, dark, and oval-shaped, with hard shells.
Dogs are social creatures and the probability that they’ll get fleas at some point is very high. They can jump on board when your furry friend is saying hello to the new puppy down the street or during a quick trip outdoors, as fleas can come from that bunny that just hopped across your yard or that squirrel that is scurrying down the oak tree, as well as from deer and other wild critters.
If your pooch has fleas, you’ll know it. Many dogs are actually allergic to the saliva that a flea transmits each time they bite and they bite frequently - up to 400 times a day! Dogs that are allergic to flea bites tend to scratch, lick, and bite themselves more than other dogs and, in doing so, provide the perfect feeding conditions for the flea.
If your cat has fleas, you may see your purring pet scratching and notice hair loss. The easiest way to find out for sure is to use a fine-toothed comb and comb through your feline’s coat, paying special attention to the neck, the base of the tail, and the belly. If you see these feasting parasites scurrying about or notice their droppings—which look like dark specks of dirt—your precious cat has fleas.
Available Treatments to Get Rid of Pet Pests
There are numerous ways to both prevent tick and flea bites and to assist you if your pet gets bitten by these tiny nasty parasites: Collars, oral medication, sprays, dips and shampoos, and powders. We’re going to discuss what these products are and their potential disadvantages.
Flea and tick collars, unless placed around your pet’s neck, belly, tail, and legs, doesn’t offer adequate protection, as it needs to make contact with your pet’s skin in order to transfer the chemicals onto your pet’s fur and skin. In placing one on your pet’s neck, ensure that there is just enough room to fit two fingers under it and cut off any excess length.
Collars can cause irritation at the site, can accidentally be chewed on or ingested, (if the extra length is not cut off), resulting in a potential poisoning or foreign object in your pet, and can (rarely) fall off or get caught on something.
There are two pesticides used in flea collars—tetrachlorvinphos and propoxur. The residues from these pesticides, among the most dangerous that are still legal on the market, pose a threat to children and adults that play with this pet. They may be toxic to the nervous system of your pet, are cancer-causing, leave harmful chemical residues on your pets’ fur and in your homes, and are carcinogenic.
Flea and tick pills, given once a month, are easy to administer. This tick and flea medication is available for both dogs and cats. By simply crushing a pill into your pet’s food or popping it into their mouth, you eliminate exposure to anyone in your family, (as opposed to other methods like collars or sprays). This medication works to kill both ticks and immature fleas and will disrupt the life cycle of fleas.
Oral medication is often tasty, can occasionally cause upset stomach in sensitive animals, and rarely causes vomiting. If the medication contains isoxazoline, this pesticide has been associated with neurological side effects including muscle tremors, ataxia, and seizures in some dogs and cats. Ataxia is a lack of muscle control that can cause animals to stumble or twitch.
Currently, there is a 3-month tick and flea pill on the market. These chewable tablets effectively kill these blood-sucking parasites for up to 12 weeks.
A tick and flea spray for your cat or a tick and flea spray for your dog kills these parasites quickly and provides residual protection. These sprays can be used in between shampoos and dips and when wooded-outdoor-outings for your pet are planned.
These sprays, as a topical solution, can result in secondary exposure to other species, can cause a topical reaction in sensitive animals, and can rarely (and temporarily) cause hair loss at the site of application. In using this product, be careful around your pet’s face and do not use it around other animals in your home.
The active ingredients in these spot-on treatments include an array of chemicals, a few of which are imidacloprid, fipronil, permethrin, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen. All of these chemicals have caused serious health problems in animals in laboratories. These health problems include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, drooling, twitching, anxiety, muscle tremors, and seizures.
Dips & Shampoos
There are flea and tick dips and shampoos for both dogs and cats. These topical solutions kill fleas and ticks that are already on your pet through insecticidal treatment. They also rid your pet of tick and flea larvae and eggs and can continue to kill them for up to 28 days after application. By following the guidelines, the parasites will eventually drown (fleas) or unbury their heads (ticks) from your pet’s skin and be killed by the chemicals in the product.
The drug amitraz, or formamidine acaricide, is often an active ingredient in topical dips or shampoos. Amitraz insecticide poisoning is caused when your pet comes into contact with amitraz, either by eating a portion of or drinking a quantity of a tick and flea shampoo, dip, (or collar) that contains aritraz. It can also occur if the shampoo is mixed in the wrong concentration, isn’t diluted properly, or if your pet, such as a toy breed, an older dog, or a puppy, is sensitive to amitraz.
Flea and tick dips and shampoos may also have chemicals that have strong smells and can irritate your pet’s skin, especially if your pet has open wounds.
A topical solution for tick and flea control, these fine powders work to kill and repel these parasites from your pet. In using a powder, you want to ensure that it is labeled for your specific pet, as well as your pet’s age.
If inhaled, these powders can cause irritation to your mouth or lungs, or the mouth and lungs of your pet. Therefore, use small amounts, rub slowly into your pet’s skin, and do your best to keep the powder away from everyone’s face, mouth and eyes when applying.
Labels may warn not to get these substances on your skin, to keep them away from your children, and to wash your hands after applying them. Knowing this, it has to make you wonder how safe it is to put on your pet, as the chemicals will be absorbed into their skin.
For your cat, ensure that you never use a product containing permethrin or pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is a naturally occurring compound found in dried chrysanthemum flowers. Permethrin is the synthetic and more potent form of pyrethrin, part of the pyrethroid chemical family. Both of these ingredients are highly toxic to cats, as cats are unable to break down these compounds, as they lack the liver enzyme to do so. Instead, the chemical builds up in their bodies, causing serious illness and fatality.
What is a Safe Remedy for Pet Pests?
This is an excellent question and should be asked by all pet owners, regardless if you have a litter of kittens, a brood of chicks, a herd of sheep, or a pack of dogs. Well, you probably don’t have a pack of dogs in your home, but if you’re a serious dog lover, you may have a few.
Dr. Killigan’s is committed to only using sprays, powders, and traps that are safe. Safe, to us, means that there is no danger, no risk, and no harm associated with the use of any of our products. Our bug sprays (and powders and traps) are safe for you, your pets, and your children. They are not safe, however, for bugs! All of our products can be used indoors or outdoors and leave no harmful residue on your pet. We, at Dr. Killigan’s, believe our products are the best on the market for your family and your pet needs.
Dr. Killigan’s Six Feet Under contains no harmful ingredients (and we listed quite a few of them above). As a tick and flea repellent and bug killer, spray it onto your dog’s fur before and after outings into the deep dark woods, massaging it into their skin and making sure to cover the areas around the ears, the front legs, the groin area, and between the toes. Spray it on their beds as often as you would change the sheets on your own bed.
In terms of cats, they do not often get ticks as they are adamant groomers. It is very rare to ever see more than one or two ticks on a cat. If you identify numerous ticks on your cat, your beloved feline may not be well, (as cats that are usually do not groom themselves). We do not recommend spraying Six Feet Under directly onto your cat, as this solution contains a small amount of clove oil, which can be harmful to cats.
Dr. Killigan’s Insect Buster, filled with food-grade diatomaceous earth, (which must be purchased separately) is a pet-safe, bug-killing tool that can be used to keep fleas and ticks out of your indoors (your house) and your outdoors (your yard). It can be distributed around the perimeter of your house or the perimeter of your property. It kills these parasites by scoring their hides as they crawl over the powder, which causes them to dehydrate and die. It is also effective against rodents and other pests too, including ants, cockroaches, larvae, maggots, and more.
Diatomaceous earth is also frequently used to dust your pet’s fur. It controls external parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and flies, including their eggs, and can also be applied to your furball’s pedding and carpeted areas that your pet visits often.
Final Word on Pest Control Products That Are Safe for Pets
Choosing the best pest control product for your pet is no small feat. We encourage you to do thorough research, seek the advice of your veterinarian, and reach out if you have any questions about our Six Feet Under or our Insect Buster.