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December 3, 2009 at 10:41 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Misusing Flea and Tick Products Can Be Deadly

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Pet parasites like fleas and ticks can be extremely irritating and dangerous to pets and pet owners alike, transmitting infectious diseases and causing such ailments as dermatitis and anemia. If left untreated pets are miserable, unhealthy, and in extreme cases unlikely to survive. It's therefore obvious why proper tick and flea prevention and treatment is a necessity for maintaining pet health. Take note that if something can kill fleas and ticks, it's likely that it can also harm or even kill you and your pet.

Chemicals to Watch Out For

Flea and tick treatments to be avoided are those that contain either organophosphate insecticides (OPs) or carbamates. A treatment contains an organophosphate or carbamate if the ingredients list contains any of the following:

  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Dichlorvos
  • Phosmet
  • Naled
  • Tetrachlorvinphos
  • Diazinon
  • Malathion
  • Carbaryl
  • Propoxur

What These Chemicals Do

Organophosphates and carbamates inactivate acetylcholinesterase, a compound essential to nerve function in insects and mammals alike. Humans and animals can usually metabolize (break down) small amounts of these chemicals. But many flea and tick treatments can expose animals to dangerous levels of OPs and carbamates, often affecting animals and children adversely. Build up of these toxins in the liver, kidneys, or any other organ for that matter can stimulate the growth of cancer and affect organ function. Symptoms such as organ enlargement, loss of appetite, labored breathing, inflammation, and convulsions can all result from chemical toxicity.

Who Do They Affect?

Cats are especially vulnerable to toxicity from flea and tick treatments due to their cleaning habits; licking their fur. Cats also lack many of the enzymes necessary to break down organophosphates. In addition to cats, children, puppies and kittens, elderly, and pregnant animals are also very sensitive to chemical toxicity.

Treatments to Avoid

The following brand names of tick and flea medications contain with organophosphates or carbamates and are to be avoided:

  • Alco
  • Americare
  • Beaphar
  • Double Duty
  • Ford's Freedom Five
  • Happy Jack
  • Hartz
  • Hopkins
  • Kill-Ko
  • Protection
  • Rabon
  • Riverdale
  • Sergeant's
  • Unicorn
  • Vet-Kem
  • Victory
  • Zema

Even if a treatment isn't listed above, you should always check with a veterinarian before using a new pet treatment.

Precautions to Take

To prevent fleas or ticks from setting up camp on your pet, be sure to comb your pet periodically with a flea comb, keep the grasses where you pet resides mowed and clear of brush, clean pet bedding weekly, and use a pesticide-free shampoo when washing your pet. If your pet does get fleas, ask your veterinarian which treatments are safe and effective. Monitor your pet's behavior during treatment, making sure he/she doesn't ingest any medication by licking or biting where medication has been applied. You should always keep children away from pets undergoing treatment. Inhaling or accidentally ingesting flea and tick treatment can be especially harmful to the developing nervous system of a child. By far, the best way to avoid the toxicity of flea and tick treatments is to prevent an infestation in the first place by keeping pet areas clean and examining your pet often.


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