Holistic Approach to Flea & Tick Prevention

Recently, the FDA released a warning about the side effects from certain flea and tick prevention products. These side effects include seizures, muscle tremors and loss of balance. Scary, right? 

Since this warning, I have received hundreds of requests from around the country asking for a safe and natural flea and tick control for cats and dogs. The problem is: I don’t have one. At 5,300 ft above sea level, Boulder, CO doesn’t see a lot of bugs. This year, I have seen 2 fleas and 1 tick while examining animals. That’s 3 parasites total in 9 months. Even if I were to prescribe natural flea and tick prevention for my patients, I would not be able to measure it’s effectiveness. 

So, I reached out to holistic veterinarians in other parts of the country like Florida, Texas and New York to see what’s working for them. These are places with legitimate parasite infestations. Here is what they had to say:

  1. Dr. Clay Bernard is a practicing veterinarian in Austin, Texas at Even Flow Holistic Vet. Here is Dr. Bernard’s protocol for flea and tick prevention:
    • Environmental Management. Nematodes (tiny worms) and diatomaceous earth applied to the areas in your lawn and garden can prevent infestations. 
    • For your pet, he recommends using a flea comb to remove fleas manually 2-3 times per week and applying Wondercide daily. 
    • For heavy infestations or flea allergic animals, Dr. Bernard uses chemical flea medications. He recommends his patient take liver protective herbs and supplements 7 days before and after the application. 
  2. Dr. Michele Yasson is a holistic veterinarian in New York at HolVet with decades of experience. This is what she recommends for flea and tick prevention:
    • Dr. Yasson recommends regular visual monitoring with a flea comb for your cat and dog. 
    • Topical products with neem and lavender spray (2 drops of oil per 1 ounce of water with a drop or two of dish soap per bottle).
    • For severe infestations use Frontline with a Seresto Collar.
  3. Dr. Trish Kallenbach practices at The Healing Place in Crystal River, FL where fleas are alive and active all year round! Here are her recommendations for flea and tick prevention:
    • Cedarwood oil solution (10 drops per 1 ounce of water) can be applied to both pets and the environment once to twice daily.
    • Cedarwood mulch is a helpful deterrent for landscaping. 
    • For moderate infestations, Dr. Trish uses Revolution and for severe infestations, she recommends Nexgard.

I would love to hear what’s working and what’s NOT working for you! Let me know, along with your location, in the comments.

With love,
dr. angie signature boulder holistic vet

12 thoughts on “Holistic Approach to Flea & Tick Prevention”

  1. Hi,
    I am in Virginia and have Gus, my 5 1/2 year old Norwich terrier. I am struggling with ticks now year round. They are awful in the warmer weather but you cannot rule ticks out in the winter either due to climate changes.
    I’ve used the Earth Animal spot on treatment that works some but not alone. Used the Cedarwood spray and Gus hates that! Use a few drops of neem oil with his natural shampoo. All of this doesn’t prevent ticks from getting on him. I am so frustrated as I don’t want to use chemicals! Gus has anxiety and he’s a small dog and I’m so afraid he would have seizures.
    Any other ideas?

    • Hi Catherine,

      We feel your pain, but not as significantly. Bugs are getting so bad – EVERYWHERE. Ugh! 🙁

      You are doing such a great job at attempting to midigate these creepy crawlers.

      I would absolutely love to have Dr. Angie answer this question directly. That said, may I have her do so via her upcoming Instagram Live Q&A?

      These Live Q&As stay up indefinitely, so you can also just watch the replay through her page here.

      I also believe other pet parents would benefit from her response!

      Let me know and big hugs.


  2. What’s your thoughts on wondercide? I sprayed my apartment with it because it got infested with fleas and then ive sprayed my dog with neem oil designed specifically for dogs? I don’t want to give my dog bravecto as I know these medications can have adverse effects on her in the long run, I really would like to have a more hollistic approach, any recommendations of products I can use?

  3. I live in Hamilton Ontario Canada. Fleas and Tick infestations are terrible here. My 110 lb Bemis/Roti/Shepherd cross developed staph infection on her skin of her belly at about 2 yrs she was 4 yrs when I found out what it was . By then if I treated her with any chemical flea and tick meds I have to take her back to the vet to get antibiotic shot for the crazy ramped staph infection she would get all over her body.
    Two summers ago I discovered cedar wood oil, I mixed it with grape seed oil equal portions. I would spray it on the tip of her tail hair, and her collar approx. weekly. Sometimes when using a white netting to keep her cool I would spray it. Concerns of essential oil. My smaller dogs I put it on their clothes and Longer hairs again weekly. Also spray it around my yard and areas that they frequent often beds etc. . . . From the time when the temperature rises about 32degree Fahrenheit for more then a week I also start checking them with a flea comb everyday. If we go on a trail before they come into the house I examine each of them with a flea comb. I will admit it is very difficult to examine my Pomeranian If I am not sure about him I will administer the chem flea treatment IF I HAVE TOO.
    It was also recommended to me to plant cedar trees around the yard. I also put diatomaceous soil around my yard . Although I don,t like the feel of the powder on their coat but if I take them on a trails I will put it all over there body.
    I am pleased to say it has been two years since I have had any flea or tick issues.
    Hope this helps

    • Hello, I’ve come across your message while searching for natural flea and tick prevention. I have 3 dogs, artificial grass but our yard sits up against 3 ponds in Florida. Can you tell me the ratio of the oils? Do you mix with water? I’d love to try this. Thanks in advance. Tara

      • Hi Tara. The ratio of oil to water in the Cedarwood oil solution is 10 drops of Cedarwood oil per 1 ounce of water and can be applied to both pets and the environment once to twice daily. I hope this helps! JoJo

  4. Your information is so timely. I am taking Bodhi, my cat, to a vet on Saturday for possible flea infestation. My husband and I have both been serving as flea meals for the past several nights. Coming from Colorado, fleas are the last critters I think about, but living in Washington is a whole different scene. I do not believe Bodhi is infected, but would prefer to have a professional opinion. I am not familiar with the flea comb, but will be purchasing one on Saturday for future use. I am concerned about the treatment, if needed, and will be talking to the doctor about the options. Bodhi is an indoor kitty, but the tech I spoke with says fleas are able to get indoors through cracks, etc.. I cannot thank you enough for your information. Hope you are feeling well.

  5. I’m in Florida. My cat is indoor only so it’s rarely been an issue for her, but I’m wondering about the recommendation to use essential oils. I thought their organisms are unable to process that?


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