My friend, Kim, From Cindy Lu’s muse shared this photo on Facebook. The photo came with a link and I went over to check out the website, Hartzvictims.org (Some graphic pictures there)
What I read was pretty scary, owner testimonials about pets suffering from vomiting and skin rashes to dying after being treated with Hartz brands topical flea treatments. Since I have never given, or would even consider giving my pets any OTC medications, I had no idea this was going on.
Problems with Hartz products have been happening for quite sometime. In 1987, the flea spray, Blockade was recalled due to hundreds of complaints and the death of 75 pets. But it was in 2009 when the US EPA started an investigation due to a dramatic increase in pet illness with suspected links to spot-on flea treatments manufactured by various companies, Fort Dodge, Hartz Mountain and Sargeants Pet Care, to name a few. In 2008, 44,000 incidents of adverse reactions were reported. That equaled one incident for every 6,136 doses sold (a total of 270 million doses were sold that year).
The most “common” adverse reactions pet have experienced after being administered spot-on flea treatments are – Excessive drooling, depression, vomiting, dizziness or symptoms related to balance, convulsions or seizures, tremors of the extremities and twitching, hypo- or hyperthermia, disorientation, difficulties breathing and paralysis. In extreme cases, death may result from prolonged seizure activity or respiratory failure.
- Dog Findings: EPA’s expert veterinarian team found that
- small breed dogs were affected more than larger breeds for some products
- the amount of product in a single dose needed to vary more for small to large dogs – that is, how much the dog weighs matters a lot in deciding how much of a product should be used.
- Cat Findings: EPA’s expert veterinarian team discovered that
- misuse or accidental exposure of cats to dog products was an important problem; cats can be harmed by dog products; and
- label warnings against use of dog products on other animals, especially cats, are not working well enough and this appears to be a global concern.
- Safety Testing: The team also found that the data we now require to determine the safety of these products for pets do not accurately predict the toxicity seen in the incidents that took place.
You might also be asking yourself *why* did the EPA and Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency conduct the review? Spot-on flea treatments that you can buy at your local big box or grocery store DO NOT contain drugs, they contain PESTICIDES. Like the stuff you put on plants pesticides. That is why these products can be obtained over the counter and do not need a vet’s prescription. I did not know this, either.
Some of the active ingredients in common OTC spot-on flea treatments. S-Methoprene, an insect growth regulator. Diflubenzuron, a pesticide that inhibits chitin production of insects. One of its metabolites is classified as a carcinogen by the EPA. Fipronil - an insect nervous system disruptor.
Still want to save a few bucks by not buying your flea treatments at the vets office? There’s a reason that vets go to school for 10 years. Only they can determine what products are appropriate for your pet and the dosages that are suitable for your pets size.
Other useful websites you might want to visit for more information about OTC Spot-on flea treatments. Against Hartz, Bio Spot Victims and Hartz Kills. If your pet experiences an adverse experience after application of an OTC spot-on flea treatment, you can file a complaint with the National Pesticide Information Center (US Residents) or Health Canada Pesticide Incidence Reporting.