Keeping Safe While Killing Fleas
Some of you may have seen the recent CBC Marketplace episode on dog car harnesses and also on the safety of certain flea products. For my American audience, Marketplace is a show on Friday nights here in Canada that is investigative reporting based. Watching the show as I sat in my home near Kingston, I noted a general theme in the discussion about flea products and also one glaring point missing from the report.
The featured dog on this report was named Digby and he was wearing a flea collar. Using a powder placed around Digby’s collar, they tracked to see essentially how many places came into contact with the flea collar. Theoretically, this has the potential to spread the pesticide around on furniture & people. While I suspect the amount that may rub off may not be in concentrated enough amounts, it does make me buy into the possibility that it could be harmful. But what about effectiveness against fleas?
I’ve never advocated for flea collars. In another small part of the segment on fleas, they showed numerous boxes of flea and tick products which have been reported to cause side effects to pets. Many of these shown were over the counter products that I’ve known people to use and many times have been told they aren’t working. Partly it’s due to the ingredients. The other part is often improper use, most often because the proper dose is not applied. Regarding safety, the most common mistake is that people have “just used a few drops” of the dog product on their cats figuring that it would work since cats are smaller. Typically, there is permethrin in these and it will cause cats to seizure.
The glaring problem I saw with the report? Not once did they ever suggest talking to your veterinarian, even in their tips at the end. The products carried by your veterinarian have undergone much more rigorous safety & efficacy testing. Also, since they are being dispensed by medical professionals, you will know you’re getting the right product. Regarding safety, we can better support your pet if something should happen to them but also we have options that will be safer for your family.
The topical products we use (Advantage, Advantix, Advantage Multi, & Revolution being the most common) will dry within 24 hours and if any skin exposure happens, a simple soap & water wash will remove any residue; but even then they haven’t been noted to have any side effects towards people like the products mentioned on Marketplace. Even more concerned about safety? In the last year (here in Canada, longer in the USA), a few oral tablet/chewable forms that will pose NO threat of exposure to your family have been developed. Bravecto & NexGard are both orally taken flea & tick control methods that won’t leave a residue to get on people or objects in the home. Another one is Comfortis which has been around longer and just does fleas.
While the CBC Marketplace report does make for good television, I am disappointed that they have neglected to include or consult a veterinary professional to help us educate the millions of pet owners out there. I’m sure that for many people after they saw it there could have been a lot of fear & uncertainty. We as a veterinary community are here to help you and your pets so don’t be shy about contacting us. Fleas aren’t a huge issue in the winter right now, but when spring rolls back around, we’ll be here for you & your pets.
Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.
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