Natural Flea Control?

There is a lot of talk about natural flea control these days but people are a bit confused about it.

Natural flea control doesn’t indicate that something is not toxic, only that it is made from natural ingredients.

Pyrethrins for instance, they are derived from a flower. In particular the Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium which is harvested around the world but particularly from Africa.

It is estimated that Kenya produces as much as 70% of the world’s supply of pyrethrins.

But even though the flea control product is made from a natural ingredient, an overdose can result in a toxic reaction in pets.

Adverse reactions include drooling, lethargy, muscle tremors, vomiting, seizures and even death.

One of the reasons it is important to do your research on flea control products and flea medications is because a lot of bad advice is floating around in cyberspace–and even in casual conversations.

There are six different pyrethrins (pyrethrin I & II, cinevin I & II, and jasmolin I & II) but they are not specifically identified on the packaging of the products made from them–only as “pyrethrins.”

Always make sure to follow the directions on the packages of any flea medications you use. Also make sure you use the flea medication made specifically for the type of animal you have.

Dog products should only be used on dogs and cat products should only be used on cats.

Avoid breaking up a larger dose between animals since the wrong dosage could be toxic to you pet.

How to get rid of fleas in Ohio? (Subscriber Question)

Recently Flea Control Secrets received an email from a subscriber (Peter) who had a multiple part inquiry.

The person owns three thick coated dogs and said that he cannot get the Frontline Plus drops delivered to the hair follicles at the base of the skin by the shoulder blades.

So instead, he put the drops on their chest near the stomach and wondered how it would be distributed.

He was fortunate that the dogs did not lick it off but wondered if it was okay to apply it near the stomach or belly of a pet.

So, my response to this first part of the question is this—do not take a risk of applying your flea treatment product to pets except as directed.

If you are having issues with application—get some help from a groomer or a veterinarian.

I’ve never met a dog with a coat so thick that application was impossible.

You could use some clips to hold the dog hair to the side to apply it or even clip a small are shorter if you want to use the spot-on products.

The big issue with not following the instructions of spot-on products is that many animals have experienced illness or death from improper application.

In multiple animal households, you also must monitor the pets to make sure that they do not ingest the product by licking one another.

(I would encourage you to check out the flea control kits in the sidebar as less toxic options.)

Excerpt from Flea Control Secrets eBook:

Frontline® Plus combines an antiparasitic agent with an insect growth regulator in a topical formula that kills the eggs, larva, adult fleas, chewing lice, and all stages of ticks.

Merial’s Frontline Plus® combines both Fipronil and Methoprene.

Frontline® (Fipronil) kills fleas AND ticks for up to a month and affects the spinal cord and brain of the ecto-parasites.

Topical application is done on the skin between the pet’s shoulder blades so it wicks back over the pet’s body.

Fipronil remains effective after swimming and bathing. Even so, water immersion should be avoided until 48 hours after application.

The next challenge of his issue is the outdoor flea problem since there are feral animals (squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, birds) that enter the large property which is fenced in.

Flea season runs from April through October or until the temperatures drop (along with the humidity) so ongoing efforts need to be maintained.

At the moment the household is using Spectracide granules and then waited two months before doing a second application. This time the product used was Ortho granules but the time lag in between works against you.

The issue this household faces is that when you begin flea control efforts, you must be diligent in those efforts and treat the outside, inside, and the animal all at the same time.

Also, fleas are very hardy insects so make sure the products being used work specifically for fleas.

Personally, for outdoor products I prefer to use natural, less toxic methods that are more environmentally friendly. You can also use a yard sprayer to help with better dispersement.

Remember to also adapt your efforts to reflect the natural flea cycle. So this means treating the outside areas more frequently and making sure bedding and interior areas are also treated at the same time would be ideal.

You’ll need to treat more frequently than has been done–daily vacuuming and more frequently application of flea treatment products (for the interior and exterior areas)–every two weeks for eight weeks at least.

I was glad to hear that the family is going to be using diatomaceous earth and nematodes but again, make sure that you cycle the treatment at least every two weeks for the time being.

There are deterrents that can be used to discourage the entrance of feral animals but the consistency of treatment should work without investing in animal deterrents.

Recently, the pet owner purchased Capstar tablets and gave it to two of the three dogs.

This is a great option and many people use it in conjunction with a topic flea control but don’t combine it with another oral product unless specifically directed to do so by your veterinarian.

Excerpt from Flea Control Secrets eBook:

Capstar® (Nitenpyram) is an oral treatment that kills adult fleas by interfering with nerve transmission in the flea.

Studies reported more than 90% effectiveness against adult fleas within four to six hours depending on the species.

Unfortunately Capstar® does not kill immature fleas, larvae, or eggs so it is necessary to combine its use with an Insect Growth Regulator.

It is also possible to use less toxic food grade ditomaceous dust on the pets—although it can be a bit drying.

Although much of the flea control products can be purchased without going to a veterinarian, I would encourage a veterinary visit for confirmation on the choices being made AND because the animals are likely to have internal parasites as a result of a flea infestation.

I am glad you have watched the videos and are doing all you can do to solve the flea infestation issue.

Remember, once you get a flea infestation it is important to remain diligent in your efforts to get it under control and manage it.

Since you did not mention interior treatments so I’d suggest Flea Busters RX and also trying some Parasite Dust.

I would also recommend reviewing the Flea Control Secrets videos on Seven Flea Control Strategies and the Triangle of Successful Flea Control and if you have not purchased the Flea Control Secrets eBook–you’ll find a whole lot more information to help you get rid of fleas.

Thanks for your question and let me know how it goes.

Cat Flea Medication Reaction (Video)

This disturbing video shows a cat having a reaction to flea medication. Care has to be used when applying any flea control product or using any flea treatment on an animal or in the environment.

One of the reasons I wrote Flea Control Secrets was because of increased issues and reactions. Take a few minutes to spend some time in the archives to learn more.

Also, try exploring the natural flea control products listed on this website as safer, less toxic options.

Organic Pest Control is the Right Choice

If you ever worry about organic pest control or natural flea control, you’ll be interested in this bit of news. Although it does not specifically have to do with flea treatment for dogs or flea treatment for cats–it does show an important trend.

Commercial product manufacturers would do well to pay attention to the latest green pet trend and adopt some different (and safer) models of pest control.

A study by researchers from Washington State University (WSU) and the University of Georgia suggests that a balanced mix of insects and fungi in organic fields provides for both better pest control and larger plants than in conventional agriculture. The study, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and published in the July 1 edition of the journal Nature, shows that organic farming practices lead to many equally-common beneficial species, and that this reduces pest problems.

“It’s always been a mystery how organic farmers get high yields without using synthetic insecticides,” says co-author Bill Snyder, Ph.D., associate professor of entomology at WSU. “Our study suggests that biodiversity conservation may be a key to their success.”

The study involved 42 potato plots enclosed in fine mesh on the Pullman campus of WSU. The researchers planted both potato plants and Colorado potato beetles (a very problematic pest of the potato) in each of the plots, adding varying numbers of beneficial insects, fungi and nematodes, microscopic soil-dwelling worms that attack beetles’ eggs and larvae.

Crops placed in the organic test plots with a more balanced insect population grew faster, because no one species of insect had a chance to dominate the plot and kill the potato plants. In fact, the study found that the increased evenness of species in the organic plots compared to the conventional plots led to 18% lower pest densities and 35% larger plants. Larger plants generally translate to greater potato yields, suggesting that organic methods might provide higher profits as well as an ecological sustainability advantage.

Though previous conservation and biodiversity studies tended to focus on species richness, or the number of individual species present in an area, this study is one of the few to consider the advantage of relatively equal numbers, or “evenness” of species for a beneficial agricultural ecosystem. Thus, the results show that both richness and evenness must be maintained to ensure a healthy environment. Conventional agricultural methods, which rely heavily on spraying pesticides, tend to wipe out the majority of insects, leaving behind a few hardy species that end up dominating the conventional field ecosystem. These findings promote the reliance on a mix of natural predators as a way to avoid the “pesticide treadmill” that forces farmers to use larger and larger volumes of different costly chemicals to kill hardy pests that develop resistance.

Research director Andrew Jensen from The Washington State Potato Commission, which partially funded Dr. Snyder’s research, says they hope to translate the study into practical advice their members can use. Washington is second (after Idaho) in potato production in the U.S., but less than 1% of the state’s potatoes are organically grown. Studies like these might convince potato growers to cut back on spraying and eventually switch to organic methods, which would suit top potato customers, like McDonalds and Wendy’s, who are being pushed to green up their practices.

“People who buy a lot of potatoes are asking the growers to reduce insecticide use as much as possible, to document pesticide use, and include biological control as a consideration,” remarked Dr. Snyder in a comment to the Seattle Times.

This study adds to the body of scientific literature considering the benefits of organic agriculture, which includes a paper published by the Rodale Institute in 2003, describing how an organic system produces better yields of corn and soybeans under severe drought conditions and gives better environmental stability under flood conditions through lower runoff risks and greater water retention capabilities in the soil. This helps to balance inaccurate, industry-funded studies which only confuse consumers.

Prior to major commercialization we did use better methods of pest control and this trend is better for the environment and everyone in it.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see major changes in a lot of the pesticide use as people begin to understand just how bad they are for humans and animals.

Recently I learned of the pest control that occurs without application to the human skin (mosquitoes) and was thrilled.

Take a look at the flea control kits in the sidebar and once you visit the site be sure to also look for the pest tag for pets–great options for your pets.

For more information check out the Beyond Pesticides organics page.

Lufenuron (Program®) Flea Treatment

Program cat flea treatmentProgram Flea Treatment (Lufenuron) is one of the more popular flea control products. Lufenuron dosage is based on your pet’s weight and species.

It is critical to avoid giving a dog product to a cat and a cat product to a dog. If you haven’t heard about the many issues under investigation by the EPA–part of the problem is thought to be the misuse of products by pet owners by applying flea control products to the wrong species or overdosing due to inaccurate weight estimation. (Best to err on the side of caution.)

The Program flea medication is given once a month.

Lufenuron is administered orally for dogs but cats can receive a pill, liquid suspension, or injection. Program sterilizes the females and so interrupts the flea life cycle.

Eggs cease to hatch within seven days after this product is ingested but adult flea bites can still cause irritation and other complications.

Until the effects take effect, additional flea control methods need to be implemented to reduce the existing flea population.

Some caution is necessary when using this product but Program is considered one of the better products on the market.

Program and most of the best home flea remedies and flea control medications are outlined in Flea Control Secrets.

EPA Flea Treatment Study Hits the News

Flea Control Secrets ebookThe long overdue results from the last Office of Pesticides Program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to make significant changes when it comes to spot-on products.

Ya think?

I wrote about this in the eBook Flea Control Secrets and anticipated the results last fall at the latest.

Today it was announced that there will be an increased scrutiny of flea treatment products, specifically spot-on treatments.

The spot-on flea treatment product investigation results were introduced on March 17, 2010 when the EPA conducted an online flea treatment webinar to discuss their findings from the investigation that I mentioned last year—and have been waiting for.

The investigation was sparked by reports of injury and deaths occurring from over the counter flea and tick products.

The agency is inviting public comment about how to implement their new measures. You can view the Federal Register notice announcing the opening of docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0229.

Take a moment to voice your concerns and opinions now.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) collaborated on this study.

The results found dermal, gastrointestinal and neurological reactions were the most commonly reported complications.

What disturbed me was that the initial posting (listed in Flea Control Secrets) was removed from the EPA website.

Was it pressure from manufacturers of these products?

In addition to looking at the REPORTED incidents involving cats and dogs, and at both the active and inert ingredients, and finally evaluated product labeling.

Some of the problems involved inconsistent reports on adverse reactions and information reported by pet owners.

Also, incidents that weren’t included in the EPA’s evaluation were those from products without EPA registration numbers, those that were vague, and those that were not able to be identified as a specific pesticides or drugs because a combination meant that a reaction couldn’t be definitively tied to a specific product.

In addition, incidents that involving multiple animals were not included because many of these could not be accurately identified.

So, in the great, vague, non-committal way the government seems to be operating these days, the EPA stated that their evaluation indicated that additional restrictions should be applied to these products.

Uh, we knew that already.

Ultimately, the public comment period is vital since, there are a variety of ideas they will implement—such as different packaging, clearer warnings, etc.

It is not clear if restrictions will apply to over-the-counter products, prescription products or both.

Findings included:

  • Small breed dogs were affected more often than medium and large breed dogs.
  • Dogs affected over three years of age were significant.
  • Younger cats affected were significant.
  • Products containing cyphenothrin and permethrin stood out.
  • Dosage ranges are currently too broad and may need refinement.

I find it interesting that blame is being passed on to the consumer once again since the EPA emphasized the importance of following the manufacturer’s directions carefully, suggesting that misapplication may have be a major contributor to incidents, and that the misuse of dog products on cats or splitting a tube between animals was a concern.

Unrevealed information includes inert ingredients (unlisted and often proprietary additives) which are indicated as an important factor in adverse reactions.

You can find a list of the flea treatment product/manufacturer by number here.

The analysis was done with percentages to omit any bias based on sales and differences in product popularity and use differences.

Meaning, that a popular product may show more incidents versus a less popular product.

How do you feel about that?

Many people want to see all the numbers of incidents, ingredients, etc.

However, the EPA noted that deaths and adverse incidents were reported for all the products included in the study.

Flea Treatment Safety Steps YOU Can Take

  • Consult your veterinarian before using any product.
  • Do not purchase flea treatment products from suspect suppliers (such as online) as counterfeit flea treatment is a problem.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and entire label (follow the directions as detailed).
  • Pay attention to warnings and use caution on weak, elderly, sick, pregnant, or nursing pets.
  • Follow age restrictions.
  • Weigh your pet before application and follow weight restrictions on package–and err on the low side.
  • Follow species specific practices. Only use a dog product on a dog and a cat product on a cat.
  • Keep the package and record the dates and times you treat your pet. Lot numbers and product data is vital if your pet has an adverse reaction.
  • Use a flea treatment product on a pet when you are going to be present so you can watch your pet and identify an adverse reaction quickly if it happens.
  • Call your veterinarian immediately if your pet has symptoms of an adverse reaction.
  • You can also call an emergency clinic or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

EPA Flea Control Product Investigation Links

Go now and give your public comment on flea treatment products to the EPA or you can contact individuals involved in this process:

• Kimberly Nesci, MS US EPA, Registration Division (reach her with questions at pets@epa.gov)
• Lois Rossi, MS US EPA, Director, Registration Division
• Kit Farwell, DVM US EPA, Health Effects Division

This post is a reprint from Flea Control Secrets blog. Please feel free to distribute this post or republish it as long as you keep it intact. You can purchase Flea Control Secrets eBook here.

Are fleas becoming immune to flea treatments?

There has been much speculation as to whether or not fleas are becoming immune to flea treatments on the market.

Just whether or not flea treatment resistence is a reality has not been widely studied. In fact, I blogged about the Bayer Animal Health-funded Flea Susceptibility Monitoring program being the first and only companion animal parasite study about flea immunity.

However, any animal professional worth their salt questions studies funded by groups who produce the products. Why? Sales would benefit from any results that showed that no resistance to those products.

Even when “internationally renowned, independent researchers” are conducting the studies it still flags common sense questions.

So, out in the real world people are questioning whether or not fleas are developing resistance to flea treatments.

There are reasons behind the theory.

First, is that many flea treatments are reported to need application sooner than suggested on the packaging.

Some professionals are even recommending an oral flea treatment as a supplement to topical, spot-on flea treatments.

Now, there is a problem with counterfeit flea treatment products, which could account for some of these reports.

Then there is global climate change that is making the environment more supportive of flea populations–which may mean that there are more fleas to combat.

Unless we have some other definitive studies by outside groups not funded by companies that might benefit from the findings, subjective opinions may over shadow the only study on flea immunity on record.

If you want to read some interesting theories about flea immunity in the pest control industry, this well researched article on flea immunity theory will be of interest.

Back in 2004, Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology (Volume 79, Issue 1, May 2004, pages 25-30) published an article on insecticide resistance in the cat flea.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Another Spot-On Flea Product Issue Revealed

A poodle stuck in its crate last week had a visit to the vet who traced the problem to the pet’s spot-on flea treatment.

Residue from the product Advantage, applied between the poodle’s shoulders, dissolved the plastic and caused it to adhere to the dog’s belly.

When the dog wouldn’t come out of its crate the next morning, its concerned owner brought the dog, crate and all, to Dr. Tej Dhaliwal of North Town Veterinary Hospital in Ontario, Canada.

Dhaliwal concluded that benzyl alcohol, an inactive ingredient in Advantage, was to blame.

Bayer Animal Health, maker of Advantage, acknowledged that the flea treatment was the likely culprit and offered to pay the owner’s veterinary bill, compensate him for loss of salary and replace the crate, Dhaliwal said.

Read the whole article at the Veterinary Information Network News but check this out:

Dale Kemery, a spokesman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates pesticides including spot-on pet parasiticides, said the agency is considering a new rule to require that manufacturers disclose pesticides’ inert ingredients.

“This increased transparency will assist consumers and users of pesticides in making informed decisions and will better protect public health and the environment,” Kemery said by e-mail. “The Agency anticipates publishing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register within the next few months.”

Kemery also encouraged anyone aware of adverse reactions with an EPA-registered product to report the matter to the manufacturer and directly to EPA.

“Manufacturers of pesticide products are required to report to EPA information they receive about potential adverse effects of their products, but reporting to the EPA directly is beneficial because the data we receive from the manufacturers is aggregated by severity category, and the report of an individual incident that we receive directly may provide more details initially that could lead to a follow-up by EPA with the manufacturer,” Kemery said.

Meanwhile, we are still waiting on the EPA to release their findings in the flea product spot-on after this year’s advisories and meetings with flea product manufacturers.

Just a reminder, commercial flea products are pesticides–chemicals that have some pretty scary warnings on the labels. If you haven’t purchased Flea Control Secrets yet, be sure to at least subscribe to the ecourse using the form to your right.

How to Avoid Counterfeit Flea Treatment Products

Counterfeit flea treatment products are suspected to be contributing to the adverse reactions being reported by pet owners after using flea treatment products.

In the first post in this series I listed the most commonly counterfeited products along with their registration numbers.

But the question on most people’s minds is, Just how do you identify a fake flea treatment product?

Foreign sources are the main suppliers of these flea control products that could endanger, or even kill, your pet(s).

Here is a short list of tips to avoid (or identify) counterfeit flea treatment products:

1. Don’t purchase flea products from foreign suppliers.
2. Be suspicious of any flea control products that are missing the inserts with directions for the safe use of the product.
3. Beware of flea treatment products that are not sold in child proof packaging.
4. Check to see that the lot number of the insert and applicator(s) match the lot number on the outside of the package.
5. Make sure all the label information matched the requirements of the EPA.
6. Avoid cheap flea products sold on the Internet.
7. Report any counterfeit products to the right sources.
8. Safely dispose of fake flea treatment products and don’t use them on your pets.

What do counterfeit flea products look like?

Most counterfeit flea products really look similar and the differences are harder to identify. Opening the package is usually a good way to get a look to verify.

Here is a slide show of some of the counterfeit products:

Compare to this slide show of legitimate products:

Those who distribute, import, or sell counterfeit pesticides such as Advantage and Frontline are subject to civil or criminal penalties up to $27,500 per sale, one year imprisonment, or both.

Recommended Resources

Do you have a resource that you would like to share? Please leave a comment and check out this kennel’s blog post and the photos on fake Frontline.