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.
- 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
- Original Press Release
- Listen to the EPA Flea Treatment Investigation Webinar
- Flea Product Reaction List by Number & Manufacturer
- EPA Pesticide Registration Page
- Report Adverse Flea Treatment Products (Vets & Consumers)
- EPA FAQ on Flea Treatment Products
- Health and Safety Guidelines at EPA
- Gov Docket Search
- EPA Evaluation & Mitigation Page
- FDA page
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 firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Lois Rossi, MS US EPA, Director, Registration Division
• Kit Farwell, DVM US EPA, Health Effects Division