After seeing a disturbing report on the nightly news, and being an animal lover, if this information saves one animal and its owner from a bad reaction to flea and tick treatment, it will be worth writing.

The report was about spot on treatment for ticks and fleas used on dogs.  Dr. Steven Hansen, Veterinary Toxicologist and Director of Animal Poison Control Center at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says that in general,  most of these treatments have good safety records.  If used appropriately, in healthy animals, there are very few bad reactions.  The cases they see are where treatment is misused.

Topical pet treatments are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The number of incidents stemming from spot on flea treatments (drops applied directly to pets’ skin) has increased 53% from the previous year to 44,263 cases in 2008.  The EPA is doing an intensified evaluation of these products.  There are many consumers that have avowed to never use these products again.

One of the common misuses of these products is that they are used on cats rather than dogs.  Dr. Mark Stickney, Director of General Surgery Services at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science says the chemical permethria, contained in spot on drops, causes cats’ nervous systems to go into overdrive.  This chemical may be found in flea powder, as well, so cat owners should be cautious.  A list of specific uses, as well as age and weight requirements are on the product labels; therefore, owners should read them carefully before using.

If you use one of these products and there are side effects:

  • Don’t double up on powders and sprays plus spot on treatment.
  • Immediately contact your vet.
  • Contact the product manufacturer and give product number.
  • Save the box, so the manufacturer can have information of the exact product used. advocates ways to take care of fleas without chemical treatment.  They also furnish complete information on various chemicals and their side effects.

Suggestions to prevent fleas on your dogs include:

  • Give pet bath regularly.
  • Wash pets bed with hot water the same day you bathe them.
  • Vacuum carpets often, which helps eliminate flea eggs.
  • Consider using pills, as they are the safest options containing the least toxic chemicals.

This information is meant to help you decide what type of treatment you may choose for your animal.  The condition of the animal’s health has a lot to do with whether or not they will have a reaction to treatment that contains certain chemicals.  Our pets are part of our family, and we want them to have a safe summer, too!