EPA: Spot-on Pesticides Linked to Pet Death
Adverse reactions to topical flea and tick products prompt an investigation by the EPA.
Does your dog’s flea and tick solution include warnings of potential side effects, such as skin ulceration, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death? If you are using a spot-on formula for flea and tick control, it probably should. Since 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been investigating topical or “spot-on” pesticides for pets in response to 44,000 complaints made to the EPA regarding the safety of these products in 2008 alone. Spot-on pesticides are chemicals applied from a small tube directly onto the pet, typically on the back of the neck, to control fleas and ticks. Because spot-on products are not given orally or by injection, they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA); rather, they are under the supervision of EPA as a pesticide. The EPA communicated its findings within its first report in 2010, which included the following effects found among dogs treated with spot-on chemicals:“Clinical signs included such effects as vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, itching, hair loss, skin ulceration, lethargy, nervousness, ataxia, tremors, and seizure. Although most incidents were classified minor, all products had some deaths…” ~ EPA report on spot-on pesticides
The report found that inert ingredients used to aid in the application and dispersal of the pesticide might be the actual source of the harmful effects, rather than the pesticides themselves. The EPA concluded that negative side effects were more prevalent in smaller breeds and that dog weight is very important in determining the proper dosage.
The EPA is continuing to monitor spot-on products for additional safety determinations. The findings of the 2010 report led to immediate changes in how the agency regulates these products and how companies label their products and report issues. Manufacturers now will be required to make packaging and labeling changes to help consumers provide safe dosages. Also, manufacturers will no longer be able to interchange the inert ingredients. The EPA is also making changes to how it regulates spot-on products, including the use of the FDA’s requirements for pre-market clinical trials. For some veterinarians and dog owners, these new measures are not enough. According to Dr. Karen Becker of the Healthy Pets website, “In my opinion, the risks of these products are simply too great to warrant their routine (monthly) use. I encourage my dog and cat owner clients to avoid these pesticides in favor of safer alternatives.” References: 1) http://www2.epa.gov/pets/epa-evaluation-pet-spot-products-analysis-and-plans-reducing-harmful-effects; 2) http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/03/31/dangers-of-flea-and-tick-problems.aspx
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