Rethinking flea and tick prevention, Part One: What you don’t know can hurt you

November 25, 2013

Many people think they are being responsible caretakers when applying popular flea and tick products to their dogs and cats. Sadly, these products, including collars, sprays, dusts, and more, could be doing more harm than good. Many vets stand by products containing a vast array of toxic ingredients that can cause severe health problems in pets and their humans even when applied as directed. Surprised? You’re not alone. It’s a common misconception that commercially available pesticides like the ones found in prescription and over-the-counter pet products are tightly regulated by the government.

According to GreenPaws, a green living initiative by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), consumers should avoid products that list tetrachlorvinphos, carbaryl, and propoxur as active ingredients. Unfortunately, until the EPA bans the last of these toxic chemicals, these dangerous products are widely available of these products on shelves at grocery and pet stores.

flea and tick prevention

Products that rely on families of chemicals called organophosphates and carbamates work by interfering with the transmission of nerve signals. The chemical process these chemicals attack is common to insects, humans, dogs, and cats, meaning they harm more than just fleas and ticks. According to the NRDC, thousands of acute toxic poisonings have been logged at poison control centers across the United States, and evidence suggests the possibility of worrisome long-term effects for children, including cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Children are particularly at risk because their nervous systems are still developing.

Also, children are often in very close contact with their pets and, therefore, to any poisons applied to their pets.

“In particular, toddlers’ hand-to-mouth tendencies make it easy for toxics to be ingested, and not just by petting the family dog and then putting their hands in their mouths,” according to the NRDC. “Because children spend their time where the toxics from pet products tend to accumulate — crawling on rugs, playing with pet toys, touching accumulations of household dust, and more — they are likely to come in contact with these poisons even when they do not touch their pet.”

As bad as these products are for children, they are often more dangerous for the pets themselves. The NRDC says that hundreds and probably thousands of pets are injured or killed through exposure to these pet products containing pesticides.

Stay tuned for the second part of this series to learn about the healthier alternatives to pesticides for flea and tick prevention that will keep your pets and families safe and pest-free.

Flea and Tick Prevention image from BigStock.

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About the Author:

Amanda Leff Ritchie is a Pittsburgh-based writer. You can follow her on Twitter @mermanda.
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Comments (2)

  1. I can’t wait to learn more! I am dealing with fleas right now & NOTHING holistic is helping at all. I have used DE, diatamaceous earth all over the house, pets, bedding.. nada. Then I got wondercide.. works fine for a few days, then they are back. Same goes with the pesticide toxic crap..fine for a few days & then whammo they are back with a vengeance. I have neem oil too. Nada. Same deal. My poor dogs are going crazy!! Not to mention me!! I can’t even pet them, or have the baby near them!! She hates this too!