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Can flea and tick products harm your pet? Check with your vet before using that flea and tick spray!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
posted by Jim Murphy

dog8Most flea and tick products are available over the counter. I recommend that before you use any flea and tick product, including flea and tick spray that you check with your vet. Some products may contain ingredients that can harm you pets and even your children!  Here’s some recent news obtained from the Humane Society’s website.

Due to a sharp increase in the number of incidents being reported from the use of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for pets, the Environmental Protection Agency announced in April 2009 that it is intensifying its evaluation of whether further restrictions on the use of these products are necessary to better protect pets.

Sometimes harmful pesticides make their way to the store shelves. Here are some harmful chemicals to watch out for. This information was obtained from the Humane Society.

The Chemicals

Besides pyrethroid-based products, ingredients to be wary of are organophosphate insecticides (OPs) and carbamates, both of which are found in various flea and tick products. A product contains an OP if the ingredient list contains chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, phosmet, naled, tetrachlorvinphos, diazinon, or malathion. If the ingredient list includes carbaryl or propoxur, the product contains a carbamate. According to the NRDC, the potential dangers posed by these products are greatest for children and pets. There is reason to be concerned about long-term, cumulative exposures as well as combined exposures from the use of other products containing OPs and carbamates. The Center For Public Integrity’s study said permethrin is classified under the most toxic category by NRDC because the EPA says it is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” if ingested orally.

The Products

The NRDC’s report lists flea- and tick-control products marketed under the following major brand names that have been found to contain OPs: Alco, Americare, Beaphar, Double Duty, Ford’s Freedom Five, Happy Jack, Hartz, Hopkins, Kill-Ko, Protection, Rabon, Riverdale, Sergeant’s, Unicorn, Vet-Kem, Victory, and Zema. To protect their pets and children, consumers should consult with a veterinarian before purchasing any over-the-counter (OTC) products.

The Effects

According to the NRDC, there are studies that show OPs and carbamates can harm the nervous system. Children can be especially vulnerable because their nervous systems are still developing. For pets, the data is limited, but according to NRDC, many companion animals appear to have been injured or killed through exposure to pet products containing OPs. Cats are particularly vulnerable, since they often lack enzymes for metabolizing or detoxifying OPs and can ingest OPs by licking their fur.

You can reduce the risks by keeping you cat indoors, combing you pet frequently with a flea comb, wash your pets bedding frequently and wash you pets with a pesticide free shampoo.

Again, I stress that before you use any flea and tick product, check with your vet.

One Response to “Can flea and tick products harm your pet? Check with your vet before using that flea and tick spray!”

  1. Ark Lady says:

    There has actually been an update as of May 15th ( which includes most spot-on flea control products.

    The EPA is supposed to release another update in October. I just completed a book which will be out on the topic by August and post updates and other news on Twitter.

    If you want to follow this issue you can find the updates at

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