Confusion about Flea and Tick Preventives

Is it safe for my dog?

In the spring of 2009, the EPA announced that it would increase its scrutiny of spot-on flea and tick medications for all pets. The closer look included all of the popular brands including Advantix, Frontline Plus, and Bio-Spot. They took this step because the number of complaints about pets becoming sick from these applications had increased considerably, and there have even been reports of serious illness leading to death.

Ever since, people have wondered whether to stop using these products. Since the announcement 3 years ago, additional research has yielded some answers:
1. Cats are more susceptible to becoming ill from spot-on flea and tick treatments than other pets.
2. The vast majority of reported illness has to do with misuse of the products. That is, people did not follow the directions on the packaging. For example, repeated application over a given 30 day period is dangerous.
3. Products intended for dogs must never be used on cats, for they can cause death.
4. A veterinarian must always be consulted before using spot-on flea and tick treatments on very young, very old, sick, or pregnant pets. These groups are more vulnerable to problems than mature, healthy, non-pregnant pets.
5. When dogs and cats are treated according to the package labeling, there are significantly fewer problems.
6. When dogs and cats became ill even though the product was applied according to labeling, the effects were relatively mild. They included skin irritation and stomach upset and usually resolved in 24-48 hours.
The ASPCA Poison Control Center says the basic message is that people should continue using spot-on flea and tick medications and follow the directions on the packaging. If your pet is in any of the above-mentioned risk groups, do not use the treatments until you have checked with your veterinarian.

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