In this article, Dr. Natasha Lilly from the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies (CIVT), addresses veterinarians about how Flea Destroyer can be a solution for their clients. We are so grateful for Dr. Lilly’s insights and contribution!
By: Dr. Natasha Lilly
Did you know that the biodiversity of healthy soils is akin to a rainforest of diversity below the surface? Just as we have a macroscopic ecosystem (a macro-biome) that we witness above ground, there is a microscopic self-organizing world of living systems (a microbiome) working to thrive below our feet. Our macroscopic ecosystem is typically a reflection of what we have beneath the surface. If we have diminished native species and diversity above ground, we have likely created this problem from below.
How does this apply to you, as the veterinarian?
Simply put, we cannot ignore the factors that either support healthy systems or diminish them if we are looking to develop a whole health approach for our pets. The conventional approach in veterinary medicine is not so different from the approach used in conventional agriculture systems to care for soil and plants. Just as the farmers use ‘cides’; pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and others to manage their land and crops, we use pesticides, antibiotics, antifungals, and other ‘cidal’ agents to treat our patients. This typical approach leaves toxins behind and massive potholes for opportunistic organisms to move into place. Nothing living operates well in isolation. In veterinary medicine, we often first see this manifest as GI dysbiosis, dermatopathies, and oral cavity disease.
Risks and Opportunities
To be transparent, I am an advocate for integration of conventional and alternative medical practices to create a better health outcome. In essence, I like to have more tools for my trade. In that effort, I came across a relatively new product, nature’s product, that makes sense. This product, Flea Destroyer, takes the angle of boosting environmental defenses versus the ‘clear cutting or massive kill’ approach, which creates potholes and vulnerabilities. Flea Destroyer uses beneficial nematodes that exist ubiquitously in nature to provide a check and balance on a whole living system that is likely out of balance due to our conventional approaches to problem solving. These targeted beneficial organisms infest and consume all flea stages except for the eggs, to halt the flea life cycle. This amounts to approximately 50% of the flea population in the environment at any given time. Infusing beneficial nematodes into the environment has long been used in regenerative agriculture practices for the control of unwanted or dysregulated populations of parasitic pests. It makes sense to start defending our pet’s environments using this same angle for a more sustainable, prevention-focused and less toxic health solution.
The less toxic piece is especially important to discuss. We know that flea and tick products are capable of producing unwanted side-effects direct to our patients such as, skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures and rarely death. (1) For these reasons, we are not able to use topical or oral pesticides without concern, especially when you have patients with immune system dysfunction, seizures, organ dysfunction, and more. Additionally, many research publications exist stating the undeniable evidence of environmental contamination and mortality of aquatic invertebrates from pesticides such as fipronil and imidacloprid, in these flea and tick control products for pets. (2,3) With the conventional flea and tick pesticides becoming more widespread in our environment, it is highly likely that we will continue to unravel more undesirable side-effects that disrupt life involving macro and microbiome systems.
As we know, flea control can be very frustrating for our clients and has to be a multimodal approach to be more effective. This is because at any given time in the flea life cycle, only 5% of the flea population is mature enough to jump on our pets. The remaining 95% exists at different levels of maturity, as eggs, larvae, and pupae. When using the beneficial nematodes, Steinernema feltiae and Steinernema Carpocapsae, in Flea Destroyer, your client is able to address approximately 50% of the total flea population present affecting their pet, and in their yard. Topical or oral flea prevention is not only fraught with unwanted side-effects as a toxic chemical addition but also kills only 5% of the flea population. If you want to arm your clients with a robust plan to knock out pesky flea infestations in and around their home, this is what I would recommend:
- Typical in-home flea clean up – washing all bedding, vacuuming all flooring, and bathing their pets with something less toxic but naturally effective like this one.
- Apply Flea Destroyers to the yard as instructed for optimal results and reapply once a year to boost the nematode population.
- Regular use of additional non-toxic products for you and your dog to help repel the fleas on your pet and in your environment.
Another way to help transition your clients is to discuss costs involved with each approach to attacking these unwanted, disease carrying, bloodsucking pests. For a 40 pound dog, they will be spending approximately $280 per year (per animal) for a once a month pesticide application to their pet. Additionally, if they are wanting to address more than 5% of the flea population in their household and outside environment, they would spend approximately $96 on a chemical yard solution per year. Meanwhile, they are adding toxins to both the inside and the outside of their home, their pets and themselves at unmeasurable health costs.
If they go the recommended route of a robust, non-toxic, flea extermination and prevention for all dogs and cats living with them, then their costs would be approximately as follows:
The annual application of Flea Destroyers for the size of their yard. Average yard size in a typical neighborhood is close to 2,000 sq ft and cost is $59.99 per box. Topical non-toxic product application every other day to help repel fleas costs approximately $100 – $200 per year depending on the number of pets in their home. This whole health approach continues to address the majority of the flea population at any one time and avoids adding more toxins in our lives.
What are you waiting for? We need you to educate your clients about this practical, economical and non-toxic solution to a problem we haven’t been able to solve. We are better together.
(1) EPA to Increase Restrictions on Flea and Tick Products Cautions consumers to use products with extra care, 2010
(2) Potential role of veterinary flea products in widespread pesticide contamination of English rivers, 2021
(3) Flea control products may endanger aquatic invertebrates, 2021