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Are Flea Control Products Safe?

Are flea and tick control products safe for your dog?

Depends on who you ask.

The reality is that most flea and tick control products are pesticides. Topical flea controls such as Frontline and Advantix rely on pesticides absorbed into the skin and fat of your dog to kill and repel fleas and ticks. Flea shampoos contain pyrethrins. Even “natural” products often contain product warnings and restrictions on use.

Let’s look at the pros and cons and the safety records of different flea control products.

Common Pesticides:

By far, the most common flea control product is some form of pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is derived from the chrysanthemum flower and has been used for centuries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “EPA’s October 2011 Pyrethrins/Pyrethroid Cumulative Risk Assessment indicates that exposures from the many current uses of pyrethrins and pyrethroid insecticides do not pose risk concerns for children or adults.”

So what does this mean for your dog?

It means that when used as directed, the risk of using flea control products is far less than any bug-borne illness that your dog could potentially contract when you skip flea control products. Ticks pose a real threat to your dog. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Canine ehrlichiosis, Tick paralysis, West Nile, flea bite dermatitis, mange – there are some scary and painful diseases that your dog can contract from bug bites.

Should you be worried?

A little caution is a good thing. Ask your vet about the most common ailments and what to watch out for. Observe your dog carefully for the fist 24-48 hours after application or ingestion of tablets – especially if it is a new treatment for the dog. Groom and bathe your dog frequently and check his skin carefully after returning indoors. Double check in places that ticks like to hide.

What should you do?

Talk to your vet. Educate yourself – but do your own research. Above all, don’t go to extremes: don’t skip treatment because you’re afraid of it and DON”T double (or triple) down on dosage by giving your dog a bath with a flea shampoo, then applying a topical spray, and then adding a monthly treatment. Pick your method and apply as directed. If you dog seems to still be getting attacked, talk to your vet before adding something on top of what you’re already doing.

Don’t poison your dog while you’re trying to protect him.

Resources:

Fearless Flea Control

Out Damned Fleas

EPA – Pyrethroids and Pyrethrins

EPA – Pyrethrin Report

 

 

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