Holistic Pet Blog - Debbie Reynolds, DVM
By: Debbie Reynolds, DVM
My initial reaction to natural bug repellents for dogs and cats was that I didn't think it would take off. I know people don't like putting chemicals on their pet, but I didn't think people would be committed enough to apply a spritz of essential oil to their pet every day or before they go outside.
Turns out, I was wrong. People DO want to go to that effort to avoid putting chemicals on their furry family members. As the trend shifts in humans - steering away from DEET and other chemicals - so it does in animals. It is even more important for animals as they groom and ingest what is on their fur.
The product that we use the most of is an essential oil made by AnimalEO called "Away". It has a light lemony scent and doesn't smell harsh in the least, it is quite fragrant. A spritz on the feet and belly as they go outdoors is enough to keep bugs off. There are other options available for natural bug repellents, but this is the one I know and trust. It is made by Melissa Shelton, DVM and it has been out there long enough that we know it works and we know it is safe.
Away essential oil is water based so it is not oily and contains Eucalyptus citriodora, Catnip (used in a lot of human applications as a bug repellent), Citronella, Lemon Tea Tree, and White Cypress.
Several unique ingredients in Away increase its ability to eliminate odors and repel insects. Eucalyptus citriodora (also called Lemon Eucalyptus) is an essential oil from Australia, which carries well known constituents that repel insects, including PMD (p-Menthane 3,8 diol). Catnip oil is also showing great interest in the world of insect repellents, however both essential oils carry properties that are rivaling DEET!
Essential oils do not last as long as the chemicals we have found to be so convenient. But, what price do we pay for that convenience? Many of my patients and clients come to me for alternatives to traditional medicines that were causing harm to their animal friend. It is a scary thought that we apply toxic chemicals in the name of convenience to our family member that often sleeps in the same bed with us! Natural protection is not perfect, but nothing out there really is. One of the benefits is that applying essential oils to your dogs actually makes them healthier and not many products can boast of that!
If you are a person dedicated to natural ectoparasite care for your fur baby, just establish your routine, tweak the dose according to the time of year and the bug load and don't give up. It will be worth it in the long run!