EPA Cautions Pet Owners Using Spot-on Products to Kill Fleas and Ticks


Photo by reery via Flickr.

Guest blogger Cara Smusiak is a journalist and regular contributor to NaturallySavvy.com's Naturally Green section.

Fleas and ticks: two pests guaranteed to give pet owners the willies. Spot-on treatments may seem like a simple solution, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a look at the risks of using spot-on pesticide products because there has been a "significant increase in adverse incidents."

The agency is working closely with the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, as well as Health Canada; Canada first noted concerns with these products last year. The EPA started gathering information in 2008 after seeing an increase in incident reports, and now they're taking steps to make labeling more clear and do a better job of keeping tabs on future incidents.According to the EPA press release, reactions in cats and dogs can include "skin effects, such as irritation, redness, or gastrointestinal problems that include vomiting or diarrhea, or effects to the nervous system, such as trembling, appearing depressed or seizures."

If you have a large dog, chances are your pet won't have a problem with flea and tick products. It seems small dogs have more adverse reactions, and cats exposed to come dog products is "a concern."

The EPA recommends pet owners follow directions carefully and watch their pets closely for adverse reactions, and all pet owners should consult a veterinarian before using any such pesticide products on animals who are older, weak, ill or taking medications, pregnant or nursing, or have had reactions to similar products in the past.

The EPA is taking the following actions:


  • Requiring manufacturers of spot-on pesticide products to improve labeling, making instructions clearer to prevent product misuse.

  • Requiring more precise label instructions to ensure proper dosage per pet weight.

  • Requiring clear markings to differentiate between dog and cat products, and disallowing similar brand names for dog and cat products. Similar names may have led to misuse.

  • Requiring additional changes for specific products, as needed, based on product-specific evaluations.

  • When new products are registered, granting only conditional, time-limited registrations to allow for post-marketing product surveillance. If there are incidents of concern associated with the product, EPA will take appropriate regulatory action.

  • Restricting the use of certain inert ingredients that EPA finds may contribute to the incidents.

  • Launching a consumer information campaign to explain new label directions and to help users avoid making medication errors.

The EPA also plans to update the data requirements for pre- and post-market testing, and do more post-market surveillance reporting on flea and tick products.

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Tags: Canada | Cats | Dogs | EPA | Pesticides | Pets | United States

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