Are Flea Treatments Dangerous for Your Pets
Jun 21, 2010
Counterfeit flea control products are showing up on store shelves which pose serious health risks for pets. Here’s how to identify these products, and ideas for non-toxic alternatives.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is prohibiting the sale of counterfeit flea treatments by retailers and distributors that could pose serious health risks for pets.
These faux treatments, packaged in cartons designed to look like “Frontline” and “Advantage” products, have been illegally imported into the United States.
One of the ways these phony pesticide treatments pose a danger to your pets is by labeling doses intended for dogs on products labeled for use on cats. Formulas are calculated on a pet’s weight and giving a cat medication prescribed for a dog could induce vomiting, seizures and death, says Dr. Cori Gross, a field veterinarian for VPI Pet Insurance.
If you think that your pet has been given a counterfeit flea treatment, contact your veterinarian. You can also contact the National Pesticide Information Center about poisonings at 1-800-858-7378.
Check Flea Medications for Authenticity
Manufacturers of these two product lines are not responsible for the counterfeit products; the EPA says that retailers might have inadvertently sold both legitimate and counterfeit flea treatments. The agency suggests that consumers determine for themselves whether they have purchased a counterfeit product.
If you discover a counterfeit product, alert the store manager and the EPA. Contact the office that represents your region.
The following are some criteria from the EPA to help consumers determine whether the product is authentic. If the product doesn’t contain all of the following information then the product is most likely counterfeit.
Frontline Flea Products
Advantage Flea Products
Identify Counterfeit Flea Products
Below is a list of brand names and corresponding EPA registration numbers that many have been reproduced by counterfeiters. The bogus products might use identical names and numbers.
Frontline: Frontline Top Spot for Cats (EPA Reg. No. 65331-2); Frontline Top Spot for Dogs (EPA Reg. No. 65331-3); Frontline Plus for Cats (EPA Reg. No. 65331-4); Frontline Plus for Dogs (EPA Reg. No. 65331-5).
Pay Attention to Over-the-Counter Product Labels
Cat owners should avoid over-the-counter flea medications including flea bombs, dips and shampoos that contain the pesticides pyrethrin and permethrin. These ingredients are dangerous to cats, and have been known to cause vomiting, seizures, skin reactions and death. The insecticides are so dangerous they shouldn’t even be applied to dogs that come in contact with cats, says Gross. (While the treatments might not necessarily pose a danger to healthy dogs, they could cause a bad reaction in a dog with a predisposed condition.)
It’s especially important that pet owners do not apply a product intended for dogs on a cat, says Dr. David W. Reinhard, a consulting veterinarian for VPI. “The formulation of Bio Spot for cats and dogs is completely different,” he explains. Bio Spot for dogs and Zodiac Spot On contain the insecticide permethrin. Hartz UltraGuard Pro, Flea & Tick Drops for Dogs contains Phenothrin. Neither one of these insecticides is safe for use on cats.
Reinhard says over-the-counter treatments Bio Spot for cats and Hartz UltraGuard Pro, Flea & Tick Drops for Cats contain etofenprox and methoprene which are safe to use on cats according to the manufacturers. He isn’t aware of any problems associated with the products.
Picking the Right Flea Treatment
Gross suggests that as a precaution, owners also ask their veterinarians about new flea treatments. “There are new products coming out all the time,” she says. “Vets are always trying something new, just ask about their favorite.”