Each year close to a billion dollars is spent on flea, tick and mite repellents for our dogs and cats. The thought of our beloveds getting Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever disease from ticks or Sarcoptic Mange from mites, let alone flea infestation resulting in one big itchy household is more than we can deal with. So each year the average family can easily spend well over $200 to protect just ONE pet. This does not even include heartworm medication! While this is obviously tough on the purse, what cost is this having on our pet’s health as well as ours?
Warnings on a box of the popular spot-on topical pesticides read …”Keep out of reach of children.” Under the heading “Precautionary Statements" you'll find "Hazards to Humans" and cautions that it's harmful if swallowed, causes eye irritation, avoid contact with skin eyes, or clothing (not that we're worried about our clothing being poisoned), and then of course wash hands with soap and water after using. The question is: if it is toxic to my children or me, why would it not be toxic to my dog or cat? To answer that, just look on the box and you'll also find the warning that it does, in fact, potentially present "Hazards to Domestic Animals."
While the diseases fleas, ticks, and mites can cause might be devastating, what are the effects of the products themselves on our pets over a period of time?
Before any product can hit the market lab testing must be done. The lab tests for flea and tick products are done on live mice, rats, cats, and dogs. Some of the adverse results from the active ingredients discovered are as follows:
Fipronil caused thyroid cancer, increased organ weights, and altered thyroid hormones, caused nervous system damage resulting in convulsions, twitches, tremors, stiffened limbs, and labored breathing. Reproductive damage including smaller litter sizes and fetus mortality. Skin problems including severe inflammation, ulcerations, chemical burns, and itching.
Imidacloprid caused organ damage to the liver, kidney, thyroid, heart, lungs, brain, and spleen. Nerve damage took place causing labored breathing, muscle weakness.
Methoprene caused liver enlargement, headaches, eye and throat irritation, dizziness, as well as nausea in humans.
Permethrin caused liver and lung tumors, kidney enlargement, and bone marrow changes.
With all these side effects documented it makes you wonder how the products still make it into our shopping bags, on to our counters, and last but not least onto our pets and into their lives!
Read Part II: Flea & Tick Control: Healthier Alternatives
Check out the Green Paws Flea and Tick Products Directory. This is a wonderful resource that all animal companions should consult. Know what's in these products before using them on your pet.