Pharmaceutical vs Herbal 

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

Pharmaceutical and herbal parasite controls work in two completely different ways. The former works on a purge or cure mechanism (no matter if it’s needed or not), while the latter works on prevention. 

Pharmaceutical treatments use chemical pesticides to carpet bomb your dog, you’re getting it whether you need it or not, and it’s going all over and into your body. The herbal routine on the other hand contributes to your dog’s overall health, is discerning, has far better manners and only goes where it’s needed.


Watch our flea & worm Q&A video here 



Any flea and intestinal hygiene control / gut vitality product, you put on or in your dog, from your vet on prescription, or as an over the counter preparation e.g. Frontline, works the same way. They interrupt the neural pathways of the central nervous system and paralyse the flea, mite or worm. They can no longer move and they die.

It doesn’t matter if you’re squeezing the contents of a little plastic tube onto the back of your dog’s neck and spending the next day or so stroking your dog, getting it on your hands, swearing loudly and washing it off. Or, you give them a tablet. The effect is the same. You are putting pesticide onto or into your dog whether they have fleas and worms, or not.

These pesticides are poisonous to EVERYONE; insects, birds and mammals, it’s just they’re far more poisonous to insects so do a job. But this also means they’re passing these pesticides into water courses, streams, rivers and seas either through grooming, bathing or swimming. As a result, water insects are also being poisoned meaning fish and birds who rely on them for food are suffering.

The problem is we don’t need to treat our dogs and cats every month and this is what’s contributing to pesticide poisoning and resistance.


How spot-ons and tablets work

See the graphic below. The spot-on seeps into the sebaceous gland via the hair, it’s then stored to be pumped out and onto the skin.

(Click on image to enlarge)


Tablets work systemically meaning it works on or affects the whole thing i.e. your dog. So when your dog swallows a tablet the active ingredients work to purge the entire system of any parasites in the same way as the spot-on does.

This is great if you’re wanting to treat for lungworm or suspect it’s there but has already left the gut, otherwise there are far better and gentler prevention methods.


Herbal ways to maintain gut vitality, and flea, tick and mite repellants, don’t kill worm eggs or fleas, they simply make a dog’s gut a hostile environment while at the same time improving the health of the gut overall. If you’re a worm egg it would be like wanting a Nando’s and wandering into a health store by mistake. It doesn’t smell right and you’re not going to find the ten peri-peri chicken wings you crave, so you leave. Not only that but the staff don’t like the look of you and you’re not welcome anyway.

If you’re a flea, tick or mite the affect and the result is the same just externally. The herbs in billy no mates – lemon balm, mint, seaweed and fenugreek are deterrents absorbed throughout the body which emanate through the skin and fur. The neem component is a natural pesticide which has the same effect as the pharmaceutical version, messing with the central nervous system, plus it prevents them laying their eggs. So, no biting, feeding or egg laying, completely interrupting the lifecycle of the parasite.


There is good evidence now that fleas internal nasties are becoming resistant to pharmaceutical methods and we know pharmaceutical products have been resistant for decades now. Worming animals is common practice in agriculture but as resistance to pharmaceutical pesticides has spread there are fewer and fewer options which work. The same will be true for pet animals eventually as we are encouraged to supplement our animals for fleas and worms every month or three months as prescribed.

There is no known resistance to herbal repellents.