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Use Flea Spot-On Pet Products Carefully

By Chris Williams on December 6, 2013.

Does your pet have fleasQuestions

I read somewhere that EPA says you can hurt your pet if you use those over-the-counter flea treatments that you apply directly onto your pet’s hair. I’ve been ordering mine online. Are the ones that my vet sells safer?

Answer

You’re talking about flea and tick products called “spot-ons” because they are applied to one or more localized areas on the body of the pet such as between the shoulders or in a stripe along the back. These pesticides are packaged in tubes or vials and are available from veterinarians, in retail stores, or on the internet. The products are subject to EPA scrutiny and are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Nevertheless, in April 2009, EPA issued a consumer alert regarding approximately 70 spot-on flea and tick products as a result of accidental pet poisoning during their use.

As a result of its investigation, EPA is not advising pet owners to stop using spot-ons, but is asking them to exercise caution and make informed decisions when selecting treatment methods. People should carefully follow label directions and monitor their pets for any signs of adverse reaction after application.

Treatment of fleas on your pet is an important part of a flea management program. We can treat your home and your yard for fleas and ticks, but if your pet is not treated as well, the fleas or ticks living on your pet will lay eggs and repopulate your home. For many years, spot-on products have been the treatment of choice for flea control on dogs and cats.

Both over-the-counter and veterinarian spot-on products are subject to the same EPA registration procedures and should be equally safe when used properly. If you buy spot-on products on the internet, make sure that the product is registered by EPA and that the label shows the EPA registration number. Make sure that the product is registered for use on cats if you are treating a cat, or registered for use on dogs if you are treating a dog. Don’t buy a pet spot-on product that comes in a large size (for large animals) and requires that you fill a syringe to dose your pet. According to EPA, this is an illegal use.

Be sure to use spot-on products only on the animal specified by the product label – dog products for dogs, cat products for cats. The products are not interchangeable. A dog product used on a cat can be very harmful. Keep pets separated until the product has dried so they don’t groom each other.

Make sure you use only the amount of product specified in the instructions, based on the weight and size of your pet. Pets have varying sensitivities to pesticides. EPA advises that you closely observe your pet during and after treatment and monitor it for any signs of an adverse reaction, especially when using these products for the first time.If your pet is sick, old, pregnant, or on medication, consult your veterinarian before using a spot-on product.

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