If you use any food or treatment regularly, it’s important to carefully understand what you can about the ingredients. Anything that we subject ourselves to on a regular basis can have vast implications on our overall health. Therefore, preventatives that are placed on your pet monthly or every 6 weeks that enter the bloodstream and stay there the entire time should be treated with the utmost caution.

The active ingredient in pesticide preventatives Frontline and Perrigo PetArmor Plus is Fipronil. What is Fipronil? I wrote about Fipronil earlier in a post on this blog, explaining:

It is a toxin that is described as “a slow acting poison” and even carcasses of the pests killed are toxic if consumed. Another concerning aspect of this toxin is that “fipronil has been classified by the EPA as a Group C (possible human) carcinogen based on an increase in thyroid follicular cell tumors in both sexes of the rat.” So while deemed safe for use by the FDA, it is worthwhile to take the entire picture into consideration before having this toxin enter your dog’s bloodstream for pest control. It should also be noted that “flea populations appear to be developing a genetic resistance to its effects” (in regards to Frontline/Fipronil, and I have heard this about competing products as well).

It’s important to understand that Fipronil is toxic and enters the bloodstream of your dog, whatever way you slice it or dose you provide.

In a study of chronic toxicity, where rats were fed fipronil daily for 52 weeks, researchers found changes in thyroid hormones, increased liver mass, and effects on the kidney. Seizures and seizure-related deaths were also noted. In a similar study, rats were fed fipronil daily for nearly two years. Benign and malignant tumors were observed in the thyroid gland. Due to this, the EPA has fipronil classified as a possible human carcinogen (#NPIC).(Source)

And the even more ominous from that same document:

Fipronil may degrade into products more or equally toxic. If handling fipronil, avoid exposed areas for a reasonable amount of time.

What about the others, such as Comfortis or Trifexis? They also pose the same kinds of dangers, and just last year had 600 reported deaths as a result of applying this pesticide. Another blog post for another day.

Are there safe alternatives? Even in flea or tick infested areas?

Ticks are very serious, heartworms are nasty, and so are fleas – to us and our dogs. But can you imagine dumping pesticides into the blood stream of your infant or child? Lather an insecticide on them that entered their bloodstream? Something that had the above cautions associated with it? Or would you try to find a better way first?

The good news is I have heard (and experienced) amazing things from people who have built up their pets immune system not having any problems with either. Yes, it certainly takes a leap of faith to trust in good health being a great barrier to pests – but people have found it works wonders. I have seen my own dogs both go into tick infested woods, and emerge without a single one on them while dogs (eating kibble) come out covered in them. I see my cat, who is ill, harbor fleas when my healthy dogs do not.

I do believe that through diet and proper, appropriate supplementation an immune system can do wonders at repelling pests. Not to mention that same immune system is vital at preventing cancer, the number one killer of our canine companions.

A compromised immune system loaded with pesticides is a risk I’m just not willing to take. Consider trying to boost the immune system this season and see if it works. Take all the steps, and give it time. If it works for you, the longevity and health of your dog is a possible (huge) reward.

Steps to a healthy immune system and pest free dogs

1) Real food.
This could be a raw or homemade diet, whatever you are most comfortable with. Make sure you find a recipe from a reputable source, such as a canine nutritionist or a veterinarian who is trained in nutrition (and ideally without vested interests in the kibble industry). You may try seeking a holistic veterinarian for assistance or a recommendation. There are many resources online from qualified veterinarians with balanced diets and instructions on feeding. Do your research, and this is the best way to establish a healthy immune system in your dog.

2) Balanced, wise supplementation.
This is truly up to you, your vet, and what your dog needs in his or her stage of life and current health. I choose to use a selection of healthy oils and plants. Some examples include turmeric, coconut oil, a source of omega fatty acids, garlic, and brewers yeast. You may even want to investigate what helps detoxify your dog. The correct answer here depends on you and your dog.

3) Natural sprays.
For added precaution, I also spray my dogs with natural sprays that do not compromise the immune system and overall health. These sprays may contain ingredients such as cedar, cloves, lemongrass, or citronella (note that while the citronella plant is toxic for dogs, using the oil is safe as an insect repellent) – there are many options here, even ones you can make yourself.

There are even more things you can try, like electromagnetic waves, natural supplements that target heartworms specifically, even bug guarding outfits.

Remember that the same thing you do for your dog is good for you too. An immune system is our primary defense against cancer-causing toxins. Choose not to compromise it with pesticides and seek a safer route. Experiment by boosting your dog’s immune system while using safe, natural supplementation and barrier methods before suppressing their immune system with known toxins and carcinogens.

About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.