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The Truth About EPA Warnings Concerning Flea and Tick Products


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The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring beefed up labeling
for flea and tick products used on dogs and cats
amid a significant increase in adverse
incidents, the EPA is taking a series
of actions to increase the safety of spot-on pesticide products for
flea and tick control for cats and dogs.

I wonder if this response is greatly misplaced posturing to look like the EPA is responding to public concerns and complaints?

First, I’ll briefly outline what the EPA is doing. And then I’ll tell you what I think the EPA should be doing.

Among immediate actions that EPA will pursue are:

· 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.

In addition, to improve the regulatory
oversight of pet products, EPA will require more standardized
post-market surveillance reporting on adverse effects, require
submission of more sales information so the agency can better evaluate
incident rates, and bring up-to-date the scientific data requirements
on pre- and post-market testing so they are more in line with the Food
and Drug Administration’s requirements.

Actually, I applaud the EPA – I have no problem with this response, and think it’s appropriate to benefit animal health.

However, here’s what the EPA doesn’t include and if they would just say this….most problems outlined above would be avoided:    

 The EPA should tell consumers: Seek veterinary advice BEFORE purchasing flea and tick products.
Veterinarians or veterinary technicians will generally demonstrate how
to apply, and where to apply products. While it may be on packaging
veterinary professionals will remind consumers about dosage, and warn
not to use certain products meant for dogs-only on cats. Another
problem is simply buying the wrong thing – a large dog product, and
then applying that to a small dog.

I am receiving lots of
letters and email of concern from many of you, and some of you are now
‘coming out of the closet’ telling me about problems you’ve had with
flea and tick products. I recently saw Dr. Michael Paul, executive
director of the Companion Animal Parasite Council at the American Animal Hospital Association Conference
in Long Beach, CA. “If you’ve noted a problem with your pet when you’ve
used a product, and then you stop using the product and see if that
problem or symptom goes away; If it does go away when you stop using
the product, it may be coincidence. But I do say, it’s true, where
there’s smoke there’s fire. There might be a cause and effect. However,
millions of doses are given annually, and adverse events are very rare.
The products have been proven, over time, to be safe.”

Based on available data, I agree with Dr. Paul.

Dr. Michael Paul

The EPA’s evaluation of Spot On Products is available for anyone to read. Here is pesticide information from the EPA website.
If you do feel your pet has had a reaction, DO report the adverse event
to the EPA and also to your veterinarian; and contact the company of
the product you’ve used.

I contend that since the products
essentially have not changed, let’s look at what have changed. First, due to a tick epidemic in America, and good marketing sales of all these products are up. In particular, sales of
flea and tick products on the Internet, after market and
over-the-counter have risen noticeably, which means veterinary control
and advice is now too often missing. I believe that may be the explanation, or at least, in part an explanation for what’s going on. Shorten the gap of a potential bad reaction by simply speaking with your veterinarian about the flea and tick product, and how to use, and specifically which one to use.


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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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