Warning On Dog and Cat Flea and Tick Preparations

First let me say, I KNOW BETTER. My application of this gunk on my cats was, frankly, an act of desperation. One that I might end up deeply regretting for a very long time. Over the last 2 years we have tried EVERYTHING to combat these stupid bugs, and nothing as worked. They are not fleas, ticks, chewing lice, or mites. We’ve tried everything our local vet suggested EXCEPT the “put behind their neck” topical pesticides. We’ve tried very herb, and every supplement I could possibly find. Nothing helped.

Background –about two years ago, the first summer we moved to the new house, our dogs started scratching like crazy. They scratched so much that they lost a lot of hair. I have always used natural methods to control fleas and ticks on my animals, and I’ve never had a problem with pests on my dogs or cats. Then we moved to the woods. I’m pretty sure our dogs picked these bugs up in the woods on our property. First, I tried various essential oils to repel the pests, but that didn’t work. Then I used DE on the animals. Not only did it not kill the pests, but we had to dust the dogs with DE daily, and it was a pain. In about October of that first year, the problem went away. The weather started turning chilly and the pests, whatever they were vanished.

The next year, they came back as the weather got warmer again. My poor dogs scratched their fur off  along their backs, and their skin was raw in some places. We started with the herbs and essential oils. I gave the dogs garlic (yes, you can give dogs small doses of garlic), and vitamin B supplements. Both are known to effectively repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and a bunch of other pests. It did not work.

So, I called the vet and explained what the bugs looked like, and told her everything we’ve tried. She said she had no idea what they were, but suggested Frontline. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about Frontline and all the other insecticides like it, and I didn’t use it.   I  kept experimenting with different herbal remedies. We found a few that worked, but nothing worked more than once.  Last winter set in, and the problem went away again. The dogs’ skin healed, and their fur grew back.

That brings us to this Spring. These mystery bugs came back with a vengeance. Nothing worked, not even the things that worked last year. For a week or two putting garlic oil on the dogs’ skin helped, but then it stopped working. We have tried every herbal remedy out there, we’ve used flea collars, flea powders,  and insecticide shampoos. We even treated for mange, even though we were pretty certain they didn’t have mange mites. Our vet was clueless, so we called another one. He didn’t know what these bugs were either, and suggested another brand of behind the neck insecticide. We finally broke down and tried it. The dogs were fine, but this stuff didn’t work either. Two vets told me, “If the behind the neck insecticides don’t kill it, NOTHING will. They kill everything.” But, it didn’t. Over the course of 4 months, we tried three different brands. We were very careful to make sure enough time passed between dosages.

Then, last week I bought a cheap insecticide shampoo that had an ingredient in it that didn’t sound familiar. I was pretty certain that we had not used this ingredient before. I went home and gave both dogs, and the new puppy (another story) a bath with the new shampoo.

The shampoo killed the bugs, but did not kill the eggs. I know this because the bugs were dead, and we flea combed the dogs after their baths and got no live bugs. But, by Monday the dogs were scratching again. So, that means this stuff killed the bugs, but  not the eggs.

When we realized the new shampoo killed the bugs, we tried to use it on our cats. The directions say that it can be used on dogs, puppies, cats and kittens, and while we were flea combing the dogs we decided to do the cats, too. We didn’t think these bugs were on the cats because our cats don’t go outside, and they were not scratching. But,  when we flea combed, we found more than  few of these things on our cats.

Trying to bathe the cats resulted in some fairly deep scratches and bites, and two incredibly angry cats.

We realized that if we’re going to get this problem under control, we have to treat the cats for the pests on them, otherwise they will just reinfect the dogs. We decided to try a cat version of the behind the neck insecticide because our cats have never been treated — no opportunity for the pests on the cats to develop  resistance. When we talked to the vet about our dogs, he recommended a brand for the cats, too. We treated both of our cats on Saturday.

That’s where I messed up.

The behind the neck insecticide killed most of the bugs on the cats. On Sunday we noticed that both cats were acting more lethargic than usual. They are older animals, one is 9 and the other is 8,  but they are fairly active. The one cat (Tiger) was sleeping a lot, and she didn’t eat all day on Sunday, but she was drinking water, and sitting on her favorite family members. The other cat(Avi) spent all day sleeping under my floor loom.

On Monday Tiger started eating, but Avi did not. Again, she spent all day sleeping. She work up for short periods of time, but was not herself.

This morning, I opened a can of tuna, Avi’s favorite treat. She didn’t even react. I picked her up and moved her to our kitchen counter and put the tuna in front of her. She ate a few tablespoons of the tuna and then laid down on the counter and went back to sleep.

I asked my husband to call the vet.

We just heard back. The vet agrees with me that the pesticide we used on the cats is making Avi sick. She doesn’t think the cat is in critical condition — yet. The vet told us if we bring her in, they will wash her in Dawn dish soap and keep an eye on her. She told us to wash Avi in Dawn, and push fluids to flush this stuff out of her system. If she’s not better in a day or two, we need to take her in to the vet.

So… now I have a very sick cat because I used a behind the neck pesticide. I know better. What was I thinking? Actually, I know what I was thinking– that if I could get the bugs off the cats, then we might be able to finally get this under control. But quiet honestly, I’d rather have mystery bugs on my animals than a dead cat.

Never again.

I’m really hoping the Dawn dish soap gets this stuff off the cats and that getting it off helps Avi clear the chemicals from her system. I’m very much hoping Avi will pull through this okay. She was born in my bedroom closet (she’s the daughter of our other cat, Tiger), and she’s lived with her her entire life. But, I’m seriously worried about her.

When this is over I am staying with my chemical-free life.





  • mary halford
    Posted July 27, 2016 11:31 pm 0Likes

    We bought some dehydrators. This interrupts the life cycle of all pests without using poison.

    Our cat years earlier nearly died from a commercial flea med that you put on the back of the neck!

    Get several dehydrators and pests cannot live without water in the air. They like 70% humidity

    We keep ours down to 50% and they cannot reproduce nor survive.

    • ydavis
      Posted July 28, 2016 7:08 am 0Likes

      What a great idea! Thanks. I will add some dehumidifiers to the house.

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