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Less Toxic Alternatives to Flea Prevention Medication

  • July 31, 2021
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Less Toxic Alternatives to Flea Prevention Medication

I read a quote, “Convenience Kills”.

A bit harsh if you ask me. But it was meant to shock and catch the reader’s attention.

Contextually, it talked about how, as humans, we choose fast, easy food, which poisons and kills us over time. How we quickly pop pills instead of learning alternative solutions to wellness. 

And it got me thinking how about how we take care of our dogs. And how we trust veterinarians and Big Pharma to give us magic pills as quick fix convenient solutions.

Less Toxic Alternatives to Flea Prevention Medication
Zoey – our first Boston Terrier is featured in all the photos in this article.

Modern Magic Pill or Modern Poison?

I grew up in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. I grew up with dogs that lived outside.

Occasionally they would get fleas and ticks, and we bathed them, use flea combs, and removed ticks with our hands.

I didn’t even know what flea medication was until ten years ago when my vet prescribed it to me and told me it was safe and required for my dog.

At that time, I had Zoey, my first Boston Terrier. I remember giving her whatever it was my vet prescribed me …. without question and without knowing, and furthermore, without researching the ingredients in it.

Fast forward to Maggie and Orbit and last year, my vet suggested Simparica for my two. I was doing a lot of hiking and it was supposed to protect them from fleas. 

I gave it to both of my dogs. Orbit did fine, but Maggie had experienced an adverse effect.  

She started to regurgitate after all her meals. I was worried of course. How would she survive if she couldn’t keep her meals down?

We did a battery of tests, and about $1200 later, what they thought to be megaesophagus was later retracted, and the vets said they didn’t know what was wrong with her.

Mysteriously nine other dogs at Maggie’s school were experiencing similar symptoms, and vets, as well as dog owners, were just as puzzled.

I decided to stop her flea medication. And her vomiting and regurgitation went away.

I reported her case to Zoetis, and to this day, I blame the flea medication for making her throw up. 

Flea Medication Is Harmful to Dogs

A recent peer-reviewed paper found owners reported flea and tick products using the potent pesticide Isoxazoline causes a reaction in two out of three dogs!

It’s also harmful to humans (read the Medical Safty Datasheet) if you breathe it in or get it in your eyes.  

And it harms fish too. 

Has Your Dog Started To Throw Up or Have Diarrhea?

Has your dog recently started to throw up? Or do they all of a sudden have diarrhea?

Don’t be so quick to think it’s something your dog ate.

Look back to see when you last dosed your dog with flea medication because if you have given your dog any of the brands Simparica, Bravecto, Nexguard or Credelio it could be they are having an adverse reaction to the flea medication.

I can’t tell you and give you medical advice but in my case with Maggie I stopped her flea meds and all of those symptoms went away. I then found out from the FDA warning that these are comment reactions to flea meds.

Does The Risk Outweigh the Reward?

It’s easy for me to look for alternatives to flea medication. I live in a mild climate, and the flea problem in San Diego isn’t as bad.

I don’t know if I would have that luxury if I lived in a humid area with a lot of grass and vegetation.  

Ultimately, you have to evaluate where you live against your lifestyle and how your dog reacts to flea bites and flea meds and decide for yourself which route you will go.  

Alternatives to Flea Medication

I’m a student of life and am always on the alert to those that have gone before me.

Today on our pack walk, dog mom to @milamiesner shared how she protected her dogs from fleas.

Her dogs are dachshunds (who walk close to the ground), and preventing fleas naturally is of importance to her.

Her flea medication alternative, natural solution was to apply children’s insect repellent to dog shirts, which her dogs wore.

BRILLIANT idea, I thought to myself.  

I mentioned the coconut oil-based flea repellent I used with her to share what my approach to flea prevention was.  

Does it work? Well in one year I’ve found two fleas on Orbit. I’m not too stressed about that. We live an active life and I would much rather deal with two fleas than feed my dogs tablets that have neurotoxins that harm them.

Less Toxic Alternatives to Flea Prevention Medication

Our pack walk was starting, and so we couldn’t continue our conversation, but I walked feeling happy to have learned something new.

Humans and Veterinarians Look For Shortcuts

We all love shortcuts. It makes life easier.  

But it doesn’t always make life healthier.

Before you dose your dog with flea medication or apply that flea oil, ask yourself if there is an alternative, healthier way.  

Frequently veterinarians prescribe a one size fits most approach, but your dog and your lifestyle are unique.

I encourage you to have dialogue with your vet and ask them what the risks are the next time they are selling you flea preventatives. 

  • Ask them to discuss the recent peer-reviewed study showing Isoxaline causes a reaction in 2 out of 3 dogs. 
  • Ask them to talk through the Medical Data Safety Sheet
  • Ask them what the natural alternatives are to flea medication
  • Ask them what would happen to your dog if they get one or two flea bites
  • Ask them if there is a less toxic alternative

Veterinarians are required to be well versed in what is best for your dog. They are licensed experts and have the sworn duty to be up to date with current studies.  

Your vet should also tell you when they don’t know something and tell you they will research the issue.  

Your vet should be able to give you recommendations from research backed by independent studies, not research done by Big Pharma.  

Dogs Have Been Around for 15,000 Years

Dogs have been domesticated for about 15,000 years. They have dodged infectious flea-borne diseases and predators and seemed to stay healthy and robustly into old age.  

Flea prevention medication is quite new to petcare and recent studies showing the harm they cause truly make me question how good they are for our dogs?

Maybe … dosing our dogs with these poisons is an overreaction? Maybe in this case, natural alternatives are better.  

Let Your Dog Be Your Guide

Ultimately your dog should be your guide.

Be vigilant in keeping a health diary and monitor your dog’s health markers. Track the condition of their:

  • Coat
  • Eyes
  • Stool
  • Energy
  • Behavior

Ultimately, your dog’s health markers will give you a clear indication of whether or not you are on the right path.  

Let your dog and their health determine what’s best for them.  

Thank you for reading this far, dear friends. To your own dog’s health and happiness. Best of luck in your information-seeking journey.

Less Toxic Alternatives to Flea Prevention Medication

If Your Dog Has Ever Had An Adverse Reaction to Flea Medications:

To report suspected adverse drug events for these products and/or obtain a copy of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or for technical assistance, contact the appropriate manufacturers at the following phone numbers:

  • Merck Animal Health (Bravecto): 800-224-5318
  • Elanco Animal Health (Credelio): 888-545-5973
  • Merial (Nexgard): 888-637-4251
  • Zoetis (Simparica): 888-963-8471

I reported Maggie’s case to Zoetis. They asked a few questions as to:

  • Adverse reaction
  • How soon it occured after dosage
  • If she was on any other medication
  • Lot number of the medication
  • Contact information of her vet

And they gave me her case number as 2021US46393


Simparica Data Sheet:

FDA Fact Sheet:

Peer-reviewed paper found owners reported flea & tick products using the potent pesticide, Isoxazoline, cause a reaction in 2 OUT OF 3 DOGS!:




Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello, my name is Hannah, and learning about Boston Terriers and canine nutrition has become my life’s work. 

First and foremost I am a dog owner, a Boston Terrier breed enthusiast, and a seeker of the truth.

As a certified Canine Nutritionist, I turn to food to keep my dogs vibrant and healthy and prefer to raise them and myself naturally.

I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to write on our Instagram.

My mission is to equip Boston Terrier owners and dog owners alike with the knowledge I have so that your dog will live a longer life and better health.

I have two dogs.  Maggie is my socially awkward one; which I find highly relatable because I am completely out of place in large groups myself.  And Orbit is the freebird. She used to have terrible allergies but since she started eating fresh food she’s been symptom-free.

Less Toxic Alternatives to Flea Prevention Medication
By, July 31, 2021
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