As the weather gets warmer, fleas and ticks become more active in certain regions of the US.  Responsible pet parents often turn to parasitic treatments such as flea & tick collars to help control their pet’s exposure to these pesky insects. Understanding whether or not you need a parasitic, as well as which treatment works best for you is key to your pet’s health and your peace of mind.

One of the most important factors in making a decision regarding parasitics is your geographic location.  Trees, tall grass, moisture, humidity, and dense ground covering can all be contributing factors to flea and tick activity.  With very few exceptions, most tick activity is limited to the coastal west, Midwest, east, and southeastern regions of the United States.  While fleas may be found anywhere in the country, they are far more common specifically in areas where higher, warmer temperatures and high humidity exist.  The southwestern areas of the country are far drier than states like Florida and Oklahoma, and humidity levels are typically not high enough to support the life cycle of the flea. As a result, pets are far less likely to experience flea infestation in most regions of states including Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas.

Understanding this is key to deciding whether or not to subject our pets to flea and tick collars or topical treatments.  Many people travel seasonally with their pets from one half of the country to the other.  What may be appropriate in one area of the country for parasitic treatment may not be necessary in the other.  Knowing the difference can keep your pet healthy, happy, and protected.  Choosing the proper type of parasite treatment can also be a matter of life and death.

Since its approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and commercial release in 2012, Seresto has become one of the most popular flea & tick collars in the US.  Also since that time, Seresto has been linked to nearly 1,700 pet deaths, more than 75,000 reports of sickened animals, and nearly 1,000 reports of human illness.

Seresto is a brand of plastic collars saturated with insecticides which permeate into the coat of dogs and cats over time. There are two active chemicals in Seresto collars – imidacloprid and flumethrin.  Imidacloprid, despite its neurotoxic risks to people and wildlife (including bees and other pollinators), is widely used in the United States.  Flumethrin is a man-made chemical compound created to mimic the natural pest repellant found in Chrysanthemum flowers.  Studies have shown Flumethrin to have detrimental and lasting effects on dogs, cats, and humans. The combination of Imidacloprid and Flumethrin is more potent than either one of them alone, thus proves far more toxic to fleas and ticks and, potentially, to pets and people.

Unfortunately, the EPA has done nothing to do its due diligence to inform the public of these risks.  “No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk,” an EPA spokesman said. “The product label is the law, and applicators must follow label directions. Some pets, however, like some humans, are more sensitive than others and may experience adverse symptoms after treatment.”

It is exclusively the responsibility of the EPA to regulate products that contain pesticides.  While it has known about the ongoing incidences of catastrophic injury and death to pets for years, it has yet to responsibly inform the public of the potential risks associated with this product.  In March, 2021, a Congressional subcommittee was convened for the purpose of appealing to Elanco (the company that bought Seresto from Bayer), to issue a voluntary recall of the product.  Sadly, Elanco’s position is that the media has had a misleading influence on the American public, and they continue to produce and sell this product.  They maintain that the recall request is unwarranted and has not yet been suggested by any regulatory agency.  Amazon, the largest outlet for Seresto, has also refused to remove it from their site.  

By contrast, there are several wonderful – and natural – products available on the market to provide your pets with the necessary pest protection they may need.  These products cost far less than the $60 price of Seresto, use naturally-derived compounds for their insect-repelling properties, and most importantly, are safe, healthy alternatives that will keep your pets flea- and tick-free. 

Our recommendation for a flea & tick collar is Bearant.  Bearant is usable for up to 8 months of protection and treatment, and its active ingredients are geranium oil, peppermint oil, are citronella oil.  These collars may be used for cats as well as dogs and puppies 7 weeks of age and older.  Convenient and easy to apply, they can be worn by your pet when they are exposed to fleas and ticks, yet stored in a zip-top sealed bag in the refrigerator for later use, as necessary.  Just as important, this collar is completely human-safe, for households with small children who love to snuggle with their furry counterparts.  With a price of just $9.95 or 2 for $15.00, your cats and dogs can frolic confidently all summer long.