Don’t Freak About Your Pet’s Flea Control

March 21, 2010

Don’t Freak About Your Pet’s Flea Control

When you have seen as many reactions to insecticides as I have, you welcome the EPA’s scrutiny of flea products that are available to pet owners. However, that said, don’t freak out about your pet’s flea control products. Just because the EPA is scrutinizing them doesn’t mean that they are all dangerous.

The scrutiny seems to be precipitated by the ongoing problems with over-the-counter products that contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids. Even with labeling changes that were instituted a few years ago, we still see owners who put the dog product on their cats or who buy a large dog product and try to divide it up between several smaller pets. This is extremely dangerous and certainly can lead to deadly reactions in cats and small dogs. And, these pyrethrins and pyrethroids simply do not work very well by themselves anymore. This fact may also lead to over-application and problems.

Most veterinary recommended products do not contain a pyrethrin or pyrethroid.  However, in some veterinary products, a pyrethroid is added to help with ticks or insect repellancy but isn’t the “main” ingredient.  In general, keep products with pyrethrins and pyrethroids away from cats.   I rarely see reactions to the veterinary products when they are used correctly. That said, they certainly can cause some topical reactions (hairloss, irritation,) in certain pets. These pets seem to have an allergy to the product, but this isn’t deadly.  EPA is investigating these topical reactions too, which is great!

Here is my advice:  If you have been using a veterinary recommended product like Frontline, Advangage or Promeris, and have not had a problem, then you are safe to keep using it on that pet.  If you have reservations about using a topical product on your dog (maybe because you have kids that rub on the pet and lick their fingers) there is Comfortis, which is an oral flea control for dogs – not there for cats yet. Unfortunately, Comfortis does not control ticks. I am a big fan of Revolution for cats. It has had a very high safety margin and gets heartworms too!

Remember that the diseases that fleas and ticks carry are very dangerous and deadly for pets and their people, so you still need to control these pests!  The dangers of these diseases certainly outweigh the risks of the quality products when they are used correctly. Your veterinarian can help you set up a safe regimen to control fleas in a way that suits your lifestyle.


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