Are Those *Natural* Flea and Tick Repellents Safe?

Adult Deer Tick - Wikipedia image

Are those “natural” flea and tick repellents safe? My pet parent constantly evaluates them since I am way too sensitive to flea and tick products. She has heard about adverse side effects and even death of pets from some toxic products.

Wikipedia image of Hooke Flea

The EPA imposes costly and strict guidelines for insecticides.  Flea and tick treatments are becoming too expensive for manufacturers to produce. Our pet parents bulk at the cost of treatment but are leery of cheap imposters being sold online.  As more pet parents look for healthy alternatives, companies are bringing out “natural” flea and tick products which are cheaper for them to produce.  However, that doesn’t mean that these “natural” products are any safer than insecticides for us.

Have your pet parents dig deeper to find the truth. Lead them to the Green Paws Flea and Tick Products Directory on the NRDC site. It reveals the levels of safety for the toxic flea and tick products as well as herbal or natural products too.

According to Green Paws, the safest flea and tick products contain cedarwood, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary and thyme.  Allergic reactions in people and severe reactions in cats and dogs have been reported when products that contain citrus, cinnamon, clove, d-limonene, geranium, tea tree, lavender, linalool, bay, eucalyptus and rue oils are used too often. What is too often?  Pennyroyal oil can cause seizures, coma and even death in animals.

My pet parent has used a spritz of purification oil on me and it seems to work well against fleas and ticks. However, several essential oils are known to cause allergic reactions, including severe dermatitis in people or pets. The more severe reactions, especially in cats, include vomiting, salivation, muscle tremors, seizures, and death in a few cases. Little information is available on the efficacy of these oils for flea control.  Keep in mind that no current flea and tick product is 100% effective.

Since our pet parents don’t always look for symptoms and we ourselves cannot report when we’re being poisoned at low doses, it is up to you to let your pet parent know if you are not feeling well and you’d rather they try some other alternatives like:

  • Giving you a bath with natural vegetable based soap or shampoo rather than flea and tick insecticides. Bathe often. Adding a few drops of neem or tea- tree to mild pet shampoos may also be effective.  Have them dip any fleas on your combs or brushes in a glass of soapy water to remove them.
  • Using a mechanical tick remover such as an OTOM or Ticked OFF that is simple and easy.
  • Vacuuming floors, carpets, furniture, crevices and cracks in the area where you sleep and spend time, daily if necessary. Have them dispose of the sealed bag properly outside the home or burn it so that those pesky critters don’t come looking for you again.
  • Have them wash your bedding weekly…which may include “their” bed.
  • Have them buy cedar shampoo, cedar oil and cedar-filled sleeping mats that are commercially available. Cedar repels many insects including fleas. However, be aware that you will be breathing in cedar vapors from bedding so watch for any adverse side effects.
  • If you have a cat in your house that you like, make sure your pet parents know that essential oils are toxic to cats, especially tea tree, which their livers cannot process. Well, let them know anyway even if you live with a cat that you don’t like. 😉

Shop wisely:

Since natural flea and tick treatments come in many forms, including food additives, make sure that your health conscious pet parent understands that not all of these “natural” products are safe or effective for you. Have them look beyond the glowing adjectives of the flea-free advertising to keep you healthy and happy and free of fleas and ticks.

Living in the moment,


Pet Companion to animal lover Amelia Johnson

Leave a comment from you or your pet below!


  • Janet Makarick

    April 6, 2011

    Good post, and timely too! I was just reading on the NRDC site today myself. We are staying away from the “spot-on” treatments this year. I will double-check the ingredients of a natural spray I just received. Hate those nasty ticks!

  • Amelia

    May 4, 2011

    Schatzi has not been treated with spot-ons for the last two years. We found that the ticks attached anyway. Instead, she is thoroughly examined after a walk…and she always lets us know if she has a stowaway hiding in her long fur.

    Come back soon,

  • Hound Crazy

    May 7, 2011

    It also helps to have chickens to eat the bugs before they get to the dogs! Of course, not everyone can have chickens, but if you can, they are really fun!

  • Hound Crazy

    May 7, 2011

    Just make sure your dogs don’t eat your chickens!

  • Erica

    August 25, 2011

    I am so glad I read this! I, being a pet parent, have been so worried about my little Yorkie Bitzy. She got fleas last year and I gave her spot on treatment and she had an awful reaction! Now the itching has come back, hence the fleas and I have been looking for a better (and safer) alternative! Does anyone know of any sort of product that can help my poor doggy out with out harming her? I found a ton of great coupons at so if they carry a good product for fleas that would be even better! Thank you thank you thank you! 

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