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Flea And Tick Product Safety

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 1:45 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Protecting Your Family, Pets, Animal Safety, Flea and Tick, Lyme Disease


IMAGE SOURCE: My dog, Tequila

As a dog owner, one of your many concerns is likely flea and tick prevention. I know it is for me, especially living in Florida where it is summer all year round.

So far I have been lucky with my dog (isn't he cute?) but I do remember my childhood dog having a flea infestation and it was a nightmare for all of us - my parents and the dog especially.

Fleabites can be more than an itchy nuisance to you and your pet and can lead to a host of other health issues.

Tick bites are slightly more worrisome as they are known to carry infections such as Lyme disease which can be transmitted to humans posing risk to you and your family.

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that pet owners will spend $45.4 billion on pet supplies and OTC medications, including flea and tick products, in 2009.

There are hundreds of available pesticides, repellents and more on the market to protect your pet from flea and tick bites. Some are available by prescription from a veterinarian; while others are available over-the-counter without a prescription.

“Pet owners need to carefully read the label; package insert and any accompanying literature to ensure proper use of flea and tick products,” says Ann Stohlman, V.M.D., a veterinarian in the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Regulation of Flea and Tick Products

The FDA and and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulate flea and tick products.

Animal drugs fall under FDA regulation, including most oral and injection flea and tick products; while, products used to control external parasites falls under EPA jurisdiction.

Animal drugs must be approved by the FDA before they are allowed on the market. While pesticides must be registered with the EPA before they can be marketed.

The EPA and FDA carefully review information about the product’s safety and effectiveness provided by the manufacturer or other product sponsor. The sponsor must show the drug or pesticide meets current safety standards to protect the animal, people in contact with the animal and the environment.

The sponsor also holds the responsibility of showing that the drug or pesticide produces the claimed effect. Flea and tick products are required to carry specific labeling to direct consumers on how to safely use the products and warn of any precautions.

Any adverse side effects associated with use of these products must be reported by the manufacturer to the regulating agency.

Spot-On Products

In April, the EPA issued an advisory concerning 70 registered spot-on pesticides used for flea and tick control in cats and dogs.

Adverse reactions reported from spot-on products range from mild effects, such as skin irritation, to more serious effects, such as seizures, and, in some cases, death. More than 44,000 potential incidents associated with registered spot-on products were reported to the EPA in 2008.

Pet owners should carefully read and follow label instructions and to monitor their pet for any signs of adverse reaction, recommends the EPA.

? Read Tips for Using Flea and Tick Products

Toxic Chemicals Found in Flea and Tick Collars

A recent study by The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows some flea and tick collars leave a toxic pesticide residue on the animal’s fur that can be hazardous to the pets and their owners.

The NRDC filed a lawsuit following the results of the study, which found high levels of propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos (TVCP) – both which are known carcinogens and neurotoxins.

The suit contends 16 retailers and manufacturers, failed to warn consumers that they were exposed to unsafe levels of propoxur in violation of state law.

GreenPaws maintains a list of well known flea and tick products. Each product is categorized by its potential risk and falls under one of three categories: Avoid Use, Use Sparingly or Use only when chemical control is needed. #


Posted by Ark Lady
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 5:10 PM EST

Glad to see that you have included this summary on flea and tick products.

Green Paws and the NRDC were helpful in my efforts to complete a flea control book which will be released shortly.

It goes into many of the dangers of both natural and the chemical flea control products and teaches the triangle of successful flea control so that pet owners can get rid of fleas and them keep their homes and pets flea free.

If you are interested, you can follow my updates on Twitter (FleaControlBook).

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 6:02 PM EST

Ark Lady, thank you for stopping by!

I look forward to reading your book when it's released :)

Anonymous User
Posted by MARIANNE
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 8:46 PM EST

I had used an OTC product called Sargents Gold that I purchased at a CVS store. Thank God I realized my Labradoodle was not acting right within a 1/2 hour of applying the product. At first I thought he was bloating. We had been at the inlet and he had been swimming for the first time. He was very excited and over heated. I had put on the product after I had bathed him because I was told that there were a lot of ticks at the beach area of the inlet. Bailey started foaming at the mouth and was twitching. I rushed him to the nearest Vet and immediately he knew it was the product. He was washed in dish detergent several times to rid him of the application. After a bit I was able to take him home but he was still agitated and was twitching. We finally called the number on the back of the box. We described what was going on and we were told he was having a reaction. That the medication was turning on him and attacking his nervous system instead of the fleas or ticks. We were told the reason he was foaming was because he must have licked the product off the other dog. We were told to get chicken broth and let him have this, it would cut down on the bitter taste that was making him foam. The twitching was due to a pins and needle feeling Bailey was having and this would pass in a few days. It was 4 days before he was back to normal and I was a mess. All I could think was that I had put him in danger by purchasing this product which I thought would be fine. I did go back to the CVS and explain what happened and they removed the product from their shelves. Several weeks later it was back there. I called CVS and told them of my story and said they needed to search on the internet for the 100's of stories that were out there and some of them lead to death. That they should not be selling this at all. My biggest concern was that the Sargents product was half the price of the applications you get at the Vet. So in this economy, I could easily see people purchasing the cheaper brand. There needs to be something done about this product. The stories on the internet are plentiful and I can not believe it is still on the market.

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 10:06 PM EST


Thanks for sharing your important story and for following up with CVS - not too many people follow through and that is frequently what gets things done.

Has anyone else had this problem?

Does the label say anything else about preventing the dog from licking the stuff off. BTW- if you put it behind their skull, how do they reach it there?

Any other folks and I will do a news story and get CVS and Sergents on the record with an interview...! Thanks in advance

Posted by James
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 9:28 AM EST

Flea and tick products can be dangerous if used improperly, but they can also be dangerous if used according to the label instructions. Most spot-on type flea and tick products contain high concentrations of pesticides. There is no way to make these products safe for pets or people.

There have been numerous reports of severe adverse reactions in pets following the use of Sergeants Gold Squeeze-On for Dogs (which is also sold under the brand name Sentry Pro XFC and TriForce Canine Squeeze-On).

In fact, according to an analysis of the EPA's adverse incident data, Sergeant's cyphenothrin-based flea and tick products (including Sergeants Gold) accounted for 43% of the total adverse incidents that were reported to the EPA in the last two years. Here is information on that analysis, which was paid for and published by Hartz:


The EPA had concerns about the safety of Sergeant's cyphenothrin-based flea and tick products even before it allowed these products to be sold. Here is an internal EPA memorandum regarding it from 1995:


As indicated in the memo, the EPA approved Sergeant's cyphenothrin-based flea and tick products on the condition that Sergeants revise their application instructions. Instead of instructing pet owners to apply it as a stripe from the back of the neck to the base of the tail, the EPA required it to be applied from the base of the neck to a point MIDWAY between the neck and tail (in an effort to prevent dog's from ingesting it). NO OTHER FLEA AND TICK PRODUCT ON THE MARKET INSTRUCTS PET OWNERS TO APPLY IT FROM THE BASE OF THE NECK TO A POINT MIDWAY BETWEEN THE NECK AND TAIL.

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, no safety tests were ever required or performed to determine if the revised application instructions were any safer.

Posted by James
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 11:22 AM EST

Correction: The EPA memorandum regarding Sergeant's cyphenothrin-based flea and tick products was written in 2005 (not 1995).

Posted by Ark Lady
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 6:03 PM EST

I am glad you posted those websites for the people reporting issues with some of the specific brands.

You can find an incident report form here: LINK

Anonymous User
Posted by Trixie
Thursday, July 30, 2009 11:33 AM EST

My bichon has been getting over a skin irritation so we have been very aware of anything than might make the skin flare again. I found one flea and my husband thought it would be a good idea to give a treatment with Segeants Gold to head off further flea infestation.

We applied this about 2pm, I massaged the dog along the nape of the neck to just play. By 4pm I had started to notice that my lips and tongue were prickly and that I had a strange metallic taste on the tip of my tongue and nothing tasted normal. The sensation moved down the left side of my throat. I started noticing my dog trying to jump out of his skin and bury under something then sporadic burst of jumpiness. At this point I decided I better wash my dog as both he and I were experiencing a reaction.

My vet told me the next morning that bathing is the prescribed thing to do and recommended that I bathe him once again in Dawn dish detergent to strip this pesticide from the dog. Since some of his symptoms were beginning to subside, he did not require an antedote.

This product is a pesticide poison and should be noted as such on the box - it is regulated as a pesticide but not as a drug by FDA..... buyer BEWARE.

Anonymous User
Posted by Lisa
Sunday, August 02, 2009 10:24 AM EST

We purchased SentryPro XFC Saturday afternoon. I applied the liquid on the back of my dogs neck and back. After 30 minutes he was running around like a mad dog. Whinning, scratching and just looking disoriented. I quickly went online and found hundreds and hundreds of complaints! I gave him a bath right away. That didn't seem to help much so I gave him a second bath. He was still not doing well so I called the vet and she suggested bathing him again using "Dawn", I did this. After 4 hours of still suffering and panting very hard and refusing water. I called the vet again. They suggested that I bring him in. The gave him benadryl shot and some steriods. They did not seem to help. I ended up having to leave him for the night. The bill is going to be over $400! I am hoping he will be able to come home at noon today.

We need to have this product removed. I would like to sue this company. Its not for the money its for the animals! One site alone has 600 complaints! Its just not fair to the pets or their owners. Is there anything we can do????

Thank you ~ Lisa

Anonymous User
Posted by melissa
Sunday, September 06, 2009 12:28 PM EST

I had a similar experience with my mini daschund. I gave him the Sergeant's Gold at about 8:00 Friday night. Within haf and hour the symptoms began. Severe head shaking, licking his paws, crying in his sleep and trying to cover himself with blankets. I went onthe internet to see if there were any side effects with this product, as there are none listed on the box. What I found was appauling. 100's of letter about other dog's, some of which almost died form this product! I immediatly bathed my dog in Dawn and he seems to be feeling better. Please please please do a story on this! I have contacted my local news station and I am also contacting my vet, the local ASPCA and PETA. Sergeant's Gold MUST be removed from the shelf!!!

Anonymous User
Posted by Rachel
Tuesday, September 08, 2009 11:41 PM EST

Here I sit at 11:36 on a Tuesday night looking up sensitivities to Sentry Pro XFC on the internet. OMG! I put the med (according to directions) on my cocker spaniel and he is having a fit! He's running around, not settling down, panting, scratching and shaking his head. I've already given him one bath and my daughter is going to give him another bath in Dawn...thanks to reading these posts. I will definitely be writing Sergeants and letting them know what I think of this product. I should have stuck with instinct and got Frontline from the vet...but I was at Petsmart and picked this up. Big mistake on my part. Thank you all for posting your experiences - it has helped!

Comments for this article are closed.

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