Spot On Flea & Tick Products, Lawsuits Take a Bite

by Mary Haight on March 1, 2012

Français : Chats de faïences

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Spot on flea & tick products have become so popular, they rake in an estimated $8 billion a year in sales. Since the weather has been mild this winter, fleas will start early and this is an opportune time to to bring up the safety hazards of using the popular spot on flea & tick products. You would think with so much money at risk, we would not be seeing a piling on of lawsuit upon lawsuit.  I just checked Amazon in pet supplies and a discount pet meds site to get a closer look at the print on the box because it’s been 5 years of talk about labeling – no warning yet of severe side effects, simply the same cautionary note to keep away from children.

Unlike dangerous human medication described in commercials where the narrator warns “side effects include heart attack, lymphoma, liver failure, stroke or death”, spot on flea & tick  products most often do not mention “side effects” in their marketing or advertising. Because there is nothing on packaging or ad materials to alert pet owners that seizures, ulcerated skin lesions, paralysis and death may result from using the product, they may not be able to connect the dots if their dog or cat is acting strangely. Consequently, pet owners may not act fast enough to get to the emergency room in time. Imagine!

In the last four and half years we’ve seen flea collars named a threat to human health (one of the two main carcinogenic neurotoxins was later removed from the collar ingredients), the Hartz Ultraguard Pro spot on flea & tick meds, embarrassingly already approved by the EPA, was found to be toxic along with Sergeant’s and Bio-Spot products. That took one year to determine. Dogs and cats were getting ill and dying in 2007 – 08 when they saw a 53% rise in reported incidents .  The total uptick then was 44,263.

Since 2008, 75,000 complaints have been reported to the EPA. No changes to labeling, marketing or advertising have been made to spot on flea & tick products.  The number of reported incidents generally does not reflect the scope of the problem, which is often much larger.

I’m tossing in my annual suggestion to try one of the many natural products available. I have used many different brands on my dogs for the last 15 years, even made my own. I have lived in the country and in the city and have not had a flea or tick in my houses or on my dogs in that time. We’re looking at a bumper crop of fleas this Spring – you might want to pick up extra.

Do you do other things around the house to prevent fleas from taking charge? If you care to share, I’d be happy to hear…

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34 comments
Catmom
Catmom

I just bought Ark Naturals Flea Flicker and my cat has had vomiting for one day and diarrhea now for two days and will likely have to go to the vet. I used the spray exactly as they said on the label. Essential oils are not a benign substance for your pet

Catmom2
Catmom2

@Catmom I used the same product as directed and it killed both of my cats

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Catmom2 I'm so sorry to hear this...I hope your vet can prove your case so you can get pursue this through legal channels. It is unfortunately the only avenue for righting this wrong.

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MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Catmom Did you contact the company I hope? I would not wait to go to the vet. They may be able to stop this reaction your cat is having and confirm that it is due to the product. I hope your cat gets relief soon.

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Catmom2
Catmom2

@MaryEHaight @Catmom2  Yes, I will be seeking a law suit, do you have any organizations to help with this? I have all documentation from phone calls, vet records, videos, etc to BLOW THEM UP and STOP them from killing more animals!

Catmom2
Catmom2

@MaryEHaight The maufacturer was contacted within a couple days of the reaction, all is documented! I lost 2 of my family members from a manufacturers "natural" product

Mister1
Mister1

I am not saying that some people do not get ill from these...but are we not blowing this out of proportion a little bit? When over 8 billion a year is being spent that is a lot of individual sales.  That is something in the neighborhood of 150-200 million products being sold.  The number of adverse reactions is so tiny relatively speaking.  Mister1

http://fleasonhumans.info/ 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @Mister1 No, I don't think it's too much to ask to properly label  this medication. Pet parents don't always equate a newly developed problem with a medication unless they are aware of possible side effects. All well and good to mention statistics...only thing wrong with that is when it's your child or your dog that is affected. In many areas of the country there is no need for dosing your dog and your family with with spot-on products when other natural, non-toxic products will do the job nicely.

Mister1
Mister1

 @MaryEHaight 

 

I understand the point you are making, but where does it stop.  Where do we draw the line and say...hey...life happens sometimes.  I am not trying to be argumentative for the sake of being argumentative...but should we require every park with a tree in it to post signage saying...be careful for falling branches?People have died from freak accidents like that.  Granted...that is a much smaller percentage than even the issue we are specifically talking about here....and yet...we are still talking about such a small percentage (a fraction of a percentage).  You say that all is well in good until it is your dog or your child.  That is precisely my problem with stuff going on in this country.  We turn every argument into "what if it happened to me?"  That is not being intellectually honest.

 

It would suck if it happened to my kid.  Hell, if everything happened to my kid it would suck.  It doesn't mean I think we should ban cars around schools, never allow a kid to play youth sports, etc.Statistics are often times used to quantify risk-reward probability.  And in my estimation, there is a lot of hype about the dangers of flea medication.  Just my two cents.  I will leave you with the last word should you desire to respond.  

 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @Mister1 I don't think it has anything to do with being intellectually dishonest -- I think it's about choices so we are coming at this from different perspectives. I choose not to use pesticides in my garden or eat them on my food. I choose the same for my dogs. It's that simple. While I don't believe every natural remedy works, when I find one that does, I can get behind that with the note that my area is not a flea/tick heavy location. If your dogs are out in the grass every day for hours near wooded areas, well - using a product from the vet might be your best answer.

Bethany
Bethany

I've been looking for a good solution to this problem but haven't found a good one. We still use flea treatment every couple months or so, but try to keep the dog well dusted with diatomaceous earth along with all her bedding and general sleeping spots.

Kolchak & Jodi
Kolchak & Jodi

We use natural bug repellents here at our house and we make sure each dog gets a good comb out every day to keep bugs at bay. We also use a lot of natural bug containment in our yard to try to keep them far far away. So far, so good! Never had a problem, even though our neighbors have one every year~

Kimberly Gauthier
Kimberly Gauthier

Hi Mary! I'm found this blog on EA. This has been something that I've been concerned about for some time and I've been looking into natural treatments for our dogs. Thanks for sharing this great information. Kimberly

Bark
Bark

Definite, prevention is key. I have heard food grade diatomaceous earth is a good preventative to spread around the grounds outside and even for certain uses inside. There are several great articles about it for flea proliferation prevention on the www!

Rich Brown
Rich Brown

Great post. It's absolutely crazy that side effect and warnings aren't published on the medicine itself! Though I do tend to use more natural remedies than chemical ones, sometimes that just isn't enough when it seems like everyone on my street has animals, so my cats seem to pick fleas up like crazy. Luckily we've not had a tick incident. Yet...

flea control on dogs
flea control on dogs

When it comes to flea control, prevention is key. Open the windows and provide fresh air and vacuum on a daily basis. We found that integrated flea control products work best. Those products not only kill adult flees on the dog but also the eggs and larvae that drop on the floor. However, when it’s too late you might want to consider using a flea control spray as well.

collars-4-dogs
collars-4-dogs

Excellent article. Hopefully it makes people think twice before they decide how to fight off fleas and ticks. best wishes, karen

Amy@GoPetFriendly
Amy@GoPetFriendly

Our Buster seems to be a tick magnet - and we discovered shortly after we found him that the topical flea & tick meds made him sick. I've used Vet's Best Flea and Tick Repellant and it seems to work well. Thanks for the info!

Carol Bryant
Carol Bryant

I use human grade Diatomaceous Earth and things like Ark Naturals Flea Flicker Tick Kicker for my pooch and have not had any fleas or ticks for years.

Amy DeFelice
Amy DeFelice

Thanks for the info. I definitely fall into the infested category. I live in the woods. Fleas and ticks are a big problem. We don't have a holistic pet store but I will check our local health food store and see what they recommend.

Amy DeFelice
Amy DeFelice

I've always wondered what those products do to my pets. They don't like having it put on, even though they get it at the same time as the heart worm pill they love. I have no doubt that it feels odd to them in some way. What natural products do you recommend?

Sam
Sam

I think being extra vigilant helps. We only use the spot on products on the feral cats - they can be huge carriers of fleas and it seems to be the only way to protect them. We don't use the full dose however and have never had an issue. It's also easier for us to put on them while they are eating - a few drops sprinkled on them barely gets noticed. Sam

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