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Flea and Tick Medications Harming Tens of Thousands of Pets

Due to an alarming increase in reports of injuries suffered by pets in the past few years due to the use of flea and tick control products, the Environmental Protection Agency reported on March 17, 2010 that they are planning to take stricter measures in the marketing of these products. The pets affected are in the tens of thousands. The EPA received 44,263 reports of harm suffered by pets in 2008. This number of these reports was a drastic increase compared to 28,895 in 2007. Pet owners reported skin irritations, burns, welts, drooling, vomiting, seizures, disorientation, neurological problems, and death. It is estimated that 600 of these injuries resulted in death.

The EPA plans to develop stricter testing methods, together with assessing if clearer usage instructions need to be included on the labels. Steve Owens, Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, said that new limitations will be placed on flea and tick products, together with possible product changes in some of the product formulas. Owens admitted the toxicity of these products by stating, "These are poisons. These are products that are designed to kill fleas and ticks - and they do their jobs." He stated that the EPA is committed to protecting the safety and health of families and their pets. However, he warned that pet owners must be careful and read the labels, ensuring that they follow precise instructions. Some of the injuries have been due to applying a product designated for a dog to a cat and vice-versa.

Georgia-based Merial Ltd., maker of one of the leading tick and flea treatments, defended its product, disputing the EPA data. The company stated that the vast majority of the cases are minor and that the number of adverse events reported has remained consistently low since the product's introduction in 1996.

Over the counter flea and tick medications come with their own dangers. The Center for Public Integrity, based in Washington, D.C., released a report, the Perils of the New Pesticides (, that details the dangers of the chemicals contained in those products. The Center reported that pyrethrins and pyrethroids found in some of those products were responsible for more injuries found in any other class of insecticide on the market from 2003 to 2007. Dr. Marty Becker who has a practice in Idaho and resident veterinarian for "Good Morning America," stated that certain breeds, such as rottweilers and collies, are particularly sensitive to any flea and tick products.

Keeping a pet free from fleas and ticks can be a huge concern. However, one does not have to rely on these toxic chemicals. There are natural preventative measures to keep your pet flea and tick free.

Feeding a pet a raw diet is the most effective method. Fleas and ticks tend to live on unhealthy pets with low immune systems. Giving your pet the nutrition nature intended without the added fillers that commercial pet foods contain goes a long way in boosting that immune system.

Other effective preventatives include diatomaceous earth, lavender oil, apple cider vinegar (in a water bowl and in a bath), brewer's yeast, and fresh garlic in small quanitities. (NOTE: Garlic is toxic to cats).



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