Safety of Liquid Flea and Tick Prevention Products QuestionedPublished June 29, 2009
So you wanted to know more about those nasty little parasitic insects, the "Ctenocephalides felis" and the "Ctenocephalides canis" and how to effectively protect your beloved animals from being attacked by them? Fear not, your search is over. For such a tiny wingless pest, their Latin names trump their teeny size, but not the havoc they can wreak with furry household pets. They are indeed the biggest bane in a pet's existence since they carry disease and other parasites. The mature flea's exclusive dinner menu is the blood of mammals and birds. And speaking about strength in numbers, there are around 2,000 species and subspecies of fleas with which to contend. Pet owners can have a serious problem of flea infestations on their hands. Very often difficult to control, and requiring professional exterminators to aid in the fight, pet owners seek safe and efficient means to protect their pets from the scourge of flea bites and to keep their environment free of the nagging pests. I received an email last week advertising a sale on flea prevention products. I had just run out of our favorite product, Advantage, so I eagerly ordered some, especially since our vet is no longer carrying it. I told my husband that I had purchased some which would be shipped immediately. I was rather shocked by his response. He had just finished an article in "The New York Times" about flea control products and their possible dangers. I hastened to read the article myself. It seems that the Environmental Protection Agency, (E.P.A.) is launching a safety review of flea and tick products for pets. While liquid flea and tick treatments for dogs and cats have been available for over ten years, but due to an increase of complaints of adverse reactions to the products, the E.P.A is keeping a watchful eye on and investigating the safety of these liquid flea prevention medications. They are also warning pet owners that flea prevention treatments may result in serious and possibly fatal side effects. Topical applications, such as the on-the-spot products have not resulted in any recalls and in May, the E.P.A reported no reason to avoid them now. However they are researching into the large number of anecdotal reports about cats and dogs treated with these products which resulted in hair loss, tremors and skin irritations, according to Dale Kemery, spokesperson for the E.P.A. These reports however have not been backed up by any veterinarians yet. The E.P.A is evaluating all the data concerning pesticides, warnings provided on labels, and the reported adverse reactions, including pre-market safety statistics which are given in support of the flea prevention products. Their report on liquid flea and tick products is expected to be released in October, 2009. It will be available on the agency's website, according to Mr. Kemery. Kemery suggests that in the meantime consumers carefully read the product labels and follow them faithfully. He warns users not to apply liquid flea and tick protection designed for dogs on cats and of course, the reverse. He adds that if users notice any negative side effects to immediately take the pet to a veterinarian. Interestingly, most of the on-the-spot products were intended only for canines, but there are presently over 25 feline-labeled products available. Please be careful about the products that you routinely use for your pets. Read and follow instructions carefully and monitor your pets after applications to be sure they are not exhibiting any dangerous side-effects. While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure for our pets, careful use of these products is essential.