EPA Cautions on Pet Meds for Fleas and Ticks

epa_logoSince our site offers savings on such a huge variety of pet meds and supplies, we do our best to stay informed about pet care and health, and to be aware of the wide range of products that are available and how they work. With warmer weather on its way, as a responsible pet owner it’s important to protect our pets from the many dangers imposed by fleas and ticks, but it is also essential to do so in a way that poses the least risk to our pets and families.

Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a news release concerning the safety of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for cats and dogs. Following an increase in incident reports concerning many of these products back in 2008, the EPA began an intensive evaluation, and is now taking steps to address the concerns, with new labeling requirements, restrictions on the use of certain ingredients in pet medications, and a consumer education campaign.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, treatments containing the chemical pyrethroid accounted for more than half of the pesticide pet reactions involving serious medical issues reported to the Environmental Protection Agency over the last five years. In addition, organophosphate (OPs) and carbamates are two other common chemical pesticides that organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have warned consumers to be wary of. These three chemicals are found mostly in over the counter flea and tick control products. Advocacy and safety groups warn that pet owners should consult with their veterinarian in order to protect their pets and families before purchasing any of these over the counter products. Generally speaking, flea and tick treatments widely available in supermarkets are not recommended, and one should never use dog treatments on cats, or vice versa.

As noted in the EPA statement, flea and tick products can be “appropriate treatments for protecting pets and public health because fleas and ticks can transmit disease to animals and humans. While most people use the products with no harm to their pets, the agency’s analysis determined that smaller dogs tend to be disproportionately affected by some products and that the exposure of cats to some dog products is a concern.”

The Human Society of the United States recommends considering topical flea and tick products that have been designed to have fewer toxic effects on the nervous systems of pets and their human companions,. The HSUS also recommends the following.

1) Consult with a veterinarian before buying or using any flea or tick control product on your pet.

2) Use products only as directed and only after reading ingredients, instructions and warnings.

3) Consider products with insect-growth regulators (such as Precor and Sentinal) as alternatives to pesticides.

4) Use other practices such as flea combs, frequent vacuuming, washing bedding often, keeping lawns clipped and keeping pets (especially cats) indoors as ways to reduce the risks to pets and humans during the flea season.

Symptoms of poisoning by flea or tick treatments may include salivating, dilated pupils, shaking, vomiting and skin irritation.

If you suspect your pet may have suffered negative health effects as a result of a product containing pyrethroid, OPs or carbamates, consult with your veterinarian immediately. If you think a child has ingested a pesticide, call your local poison control center. Be sure to report all such incidents to the EPA’s National Pesticide Telecommunications Network at 800-858-7378.

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