How to switch to natural parasite control products

Written by Kate Bendix – Author of My Itchy Dog & The Dog Diet 

It is perfectly possible to make the switch from the conventional, pharmaceutical parasite control we all know and *ahem* love over to natural flea and intestinal hygiene control ones, and keep your dog and cat protected. All you do is replace your regular spot on, or tablet with two well established supplements added to food or given as a treat. That’s it, it’s not magic, it’s actual science (more on that another time). 

Herbal supplements and repellents predate pharmaceuticals, which have only been around since the 1930’s, whereas herbs have been used to repel parasites for centuries and are still used by people today, especially where healthcare is expensive or difficult to access.

Read on and we’ll walk you through switching over.


Why do dog and cat owners switch?

In most cases we’ve found that dog and cat owners switch for one of three reasons:

  1. Their dog or cat has had a poor reaction to a spot-on treatment in the past – it can be sore skin, feeling sick for a day or so – and they want to avoid that if they can
  2. They’re finding that some pharmaceutical treatments are no longer as effective as they once were
  3. Or they simply prefer the natural route to keeping their pets free of parasites


That’s me! How do I get started?

If you don’t regularly check and give your dog or cat something for fleas and intestinal hygiene, skip this step and just do a worm egg count before you start (see below). 

To maintain continuous protection and make your dog or cat as inhospitable an environment to a flea and other intestinal creepy crawlies as you can, you simply overlap the old with the new.

When you give your pet their last conventional flea and intestinal control product, start them on the natural products at the same time. This is because natural parasite repellents take up to six weeks to become effective while they build up in the system, hence the need for an overlap. That way, once the Advocate, Drontal, Advantage or Milbamax for example has worn off, the new natural products will have taken over. Neither product will interfere with the other.


Do a worm egg count too

Yes, you read that right. It works thus: give the last pharmaceutical product, and start on your natural intestinal hygiene control at the same time. After 14 days has flown by, do a worm egg count and a lungworm egg count. For two reasons:

  1. To make sure your dog is free of worm eggs so you have your starting point
  2. To check for lungworm eggs (super important)

Don’t panic, worm egg counting is not a replacement for Netflix, it’s a lab test. Pick up a kit from Browns, everything you need is in there including full instructions.

Collect a sample of your dog’s poo, it’s OK no one’s looking, put it in the sample bag, post to the lab and the results will be emailed to you in a couple of days. Sending poo by post is perfectly legal as long as you have enough barriers (bags) between it and the outside world, which the kit does.

Buy worm count kits here


Why is a lungworm egg count so important?

Lungworm can be fatal if left undetected. Just like other worms, lungworm eggs are licked up by your dog and enter the gut. But unlike other worms who thrive in the gut lungworm eggs must leave and enter the bloodstream to continue their lifecycle. Natural intestinal hygiene control only work on eggs and worms that remain in the gut so, once a lungworm egg leaves the gut for pastures new only a pharmaceutical product will do.

This is why we overlap the pharmaceutical intestinal hygiene control with the natural intestinal hygiene control. Any lungworm eggs no matter where they are in the body will be dealt with by the last pharmaceutical product. Once you’ve moved across to the natural product and give it as recommended, the gut should deal with all eggs the same way, no matter the worm who released them.

We recommend a worm count four times a year, especially if you don’t do anything to your dog at all, but make sure you do a lungworm egg count at the very least as Sussex is a lungworm hotspot.

Buy Lungworm count kits here


What flea and intestinal hygiene control products do I need?

Only two. For fleas, ticks and mites use Billy No Mates, for intestinal hygiene control and gut vitality, use Verm-X . These are by far the best natural products on the market today, and we know for sure that they work, which is handy!


For fleas, ticks and mites 

Billy No Mates contains a blend of mint, seaweed, fenugreek, neem and lemon balm. Neem is a compound derived from the neem tree and is widely accepted to be a powerful insect repellent. There is plenty of peer reviewed research on neem and it is still used today. The best stuff is grown in India where you’ll find it in everything from tincture to toothpaste.


For intestinal hygiene control and to restore and maintain their gut vitality

Verm-X and Verm-X for Cats contains, among others, cinnamon, thyme, peppermint, garlic, quassia, cayenne, fennel, cleavers, nettle and slippery elm.

Both are available in either store along with more information, including advice on ingredients, how much to feed and the other health advantages to using them (better gut health, improved coat condition, less of that room clearing wind!)


How does the natural stuff work?

Parasites are looking for the weakest host, they don’t care about your pet, only about getting their next blood meal. How you protect your dog or cat – conventionally or naturally – works differently depending on which method you choose but the aim is the same, making jumping on or in your pet a pointless exercise.

A conventional, pharmaceutical works systemically meaning it affects the whole body, whereas natural tackles anything introduced into the body through the mouth and gut. By priming the gut with parasite menacing herbs and making it a healthier environment all round the natural method deals with each situation as it arises. 

When your dog or cat ingests the creepy crawly eggs, the Verm-X  has prepared your gut to deal with any unwelcome guests. They are simply gently ushered out through the intestines and dumped, unceremoniously out with the rest of the waste.


Fleas, ticks and mites
The Billy No Mates makes your dog or cat an unattractive prospect because, while your pet doesn’t smell any different to us, to a flea, tick or mite, they stink and so they move on looking for a better prospect as a top priority. The neem content also kills any sick parasites which may hop on temporarily so no harm is done.


Continued protection

To keep your dog or cat parasite free, feed each product according to instructions, daily or monthly depending on the product. Fleas and worms will be ushered out just in a different, gentler way.

That’s really all there is to it.

Watch our flea & worm Q&A video here