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.

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.

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
• 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.

EPA Wants Your Comments

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requesting public comment on options for disclosing inert ingredients in pesticides. In this anticipated rule making, EPA is seeking ideas for greater disclosure of inert ingredient identities. Inert ingredients are part of the end use product formulation and are not active ingredients. Revealing inert ingredients will help consumers make informed decisions and will better protect public health and the environment.

“Consumers deserve to know the identities of ingredients in pesticide formulations, including inert ingredients,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “Disclosing inert ingredients in pesticide products, especially those considered to be hazardous, will empower consumers and pesticide users to make more informed choices.”

EPA believes public disclosure is one way to discourage the use of hazardous inert ingredients in pesticide formulations. The agency is inviting comment on various regulatory and voluntary steps to achieve this broader disclosure.

Pesticide manufacturers usually disclose their inert ingredients only to EPA. Currently, EPA evaluates the safety of all ingredients in a product’s formulation when determining whether the pesticide should be registered.

On October 1, 2009, EPA responded to two petitions (one by Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, and a second by several state attorneys general), that designated more than 350 inert pesticide ingredients as hazardous. The petitioners asked EPA to require that these ingredients be identified on the labels of products that include them in their formulations.

EPA will accept comments on the advance notice of proposed rulemaking for 60 days after it has been published in the Federal Register.

More information:

What about Garlic as flea treatment?

Garlic flea treatmentPeople are always asking if they can give garlic to pets to help get rid of fleas.

Once again, people give out bad advice and say, yes.

No, NO, NO!

Don’t give garlic to pets for flea treatment.

First, garlic has not been proven to help fight fleas.

Second, according to the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline–garlic is toxic to pets!

Now if you look around the Internet it is easy to find people who swear that it works.

There are also companies that add garlic to brewers yeast–but none of those anecdotes have been proven effective.

Is it worth these risks if you use garlic for flea control?

  • Vomiting,
  • breakdown of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia, Heinz body anemia),
  • blood in urine,
  • weakness,
  • high heart rate,
  • and excessive panting.

I think not.

Garlic can cause gastrointestinal irritation that might result in red blood cell damage.

Cats are more sensitive while dogs need significantly more to react adversely.

The problem that concerns me is that I have not found anything about the long-term damage that can result from low doses given over time of this toxic substance.

I have to ask you, Is it worth your pet’s health?

There are those that will say that garlic has been used for eons without issue–but you can’t convince me to use a toxic compound that has not been proven to work (or to be safe) when there are other natural options out there that are not toxic to pets.

Why would you?

Garlic toxicity can also only be diagnosed over time, through clinical symptoms and with confirmation of Heinz bodies.

How many people are doing that?

So although an occasional sprinkle found in pet foods or pet treats might not cause problems, most professionals do NOT recommend giving pets garlic or food containing hefty amounts of garlic.

Try some of the other options discussed in the ebook or even Brewer’s Yeast tablets without garlic.

Also, adding apple cider vinegar to pet water or applying it as a topical spray (50% water) instead will help fight fleas on pets.

Creative Commons License Photo credit: photomequickbooth

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.

Consumer Affairs Investigates Flea Treatment

On August 10, 2009 an extensive series on flea treatment and adverse reactions was posted on

Based on reported incidents involving flea treatment products, ConsumerAffairs.Com contacted three of the leading topical flea and tick product manufacturers to discuss the EPA’s “intensified scrutiny” of these treatments and any complaints they had received from pet owners.

ConsumerAffairs.Com contacted Sergeant’s, Central Life Sciences/Farnam Pet Products (Bio Spot brand), and The Hartz Mountain Corporation.

Hartz was the only company that responded.

Click here to find the ConsumerAffairs.Com and Hartz flea treatment discussion.

ASPCA Warns about Cat Flea Treatments

advantage cat flea treatmentNot too long ago the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) released data indicating that cats are more susceptible to illness and death as a result of the misuse of spot-on flea and tick control products.

The data, collected by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, also indicate the overwhelming majority of animal illnesses associated with proper use of spot-on flea and tick control products are mild.

“Products labeled for dogs must never be used on cats—doing so can result in serious illness and even death,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Medical Director of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. “A veterinarian must always be consulted before using spot-on flea and tick treatments on very young, old, sick or pregnant pets.”

The ASPCA receives more than 700 calls daily from veterinarians and pet parents, resulting in over 150,000 annual cases involving medications, insecticides, plants and foods.

ASPCA epidemiologist Dr. Margaret Slater analyzed data from public calls managed by the ASPCA regarding flea and tick products. The data identified two key findings.

1. When cats were treated inappropriately (not per label directions), they are significantly more likely to experience severe reactions: no illness despite a call to the ASPCA (18%), mild illness (17%), moderate illness (45%), major illness (19%), and death (2%).

2. When dogs and cats were treated correctly (per label directions), the likelihood of severe adverse reaction was significantly less: no illness despite a call to the ASPCA (7%), mild illness (69%), moderate illness (22%), major illness (2%), and death (0.1%).

“The important take home message is that although adverse reactions can occur with all flea and tick products, most effects are relatively mild and include skin irritation and stomach upset,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA veterinary toxicologist and Senior Vice President Animal Health Services. “Pet parents should not discontinue using products as directed by the product label when faced with a flea infestation.”

Using products as directed and making necessary adjustments based on health will greatly reduce adverse reactions from flea and tick or any other medical products.

Fleas cause anemia (low blood counts), carry tapeworms, and can transmit infections such as Bartonella; ticks transmit many diseases including Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The risk to pets from these diseases is greater than the risk of adverse reactions when products are use appropriately.

Find more at the ASPCA Pressroom