Safety Guidelines for Flea Medicines

One very important factor that consumers should consider is a recent Environmental Protection Agency warning about flea medicines, issued on March 17, 2010. The EPA believes there are safety issues for pets relating to the use of spot application flea medicines (the kind that you apply to the pet's skin using drops). You can read about the warning in detail here and  read the EPA press release here.
The EPA describes a "significant increase in adverse incidents" from flea medicines and is planning on increasing its oversight over labeling requirements to make dosage instructions more precise. The EPA received roughly 45,000 complaints of negative reactions to flea medicines in 2008 - most of them minor, but including 600 reports of deaths of the pet. Many of these problems tend to result from misuse or improper use of the products, so here are some key things for you as an owner to watch out for:

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NEVER give a pet a medicine for the wrong weight. You need to precisely weigh your pet on a scale and give it a product that is appropriate based on their weight and what the product says it applies to. Many of the negative reactions were in cats or small dogs, when people had given the pet something designed for a much larger dog. Do not guess the pet's weight, and do not decide you are going to save money by splitting a large dog product among multiple dogs (these are common causes listed by the EPA for toxic reactions).

NEVER give a puppy or a kitten medicine before the age on the product's instructions. If you've got doubts about when the pet was born, wait at least a few weeks.

Do not give flea medicines to sick animals without consulting a vet first.

Do not give flea medicines to elderly pets without consulting a vet first.

ALWAYS check with younger animals to see if there's a medicine designed specifically for puppies or kittens. 

 ALWAYS read the instructions for the product you are using, including any warnings. Follow the instructions - they're there for a reason.

ALWAYS separate your pets from each other for some time after treatment. A number of the incidents (especially with cats) happened when the pets would interact with each other and rub the product onto each other. This results in an incorrect dosage.

ALWAYS check to make sure your flea medicine hasn't been counterfeited (link to page).

WHEN IN DOUBT, talk to your vet first.

Useful Links:

Back to Pet Medications Page

Back to Flea Control Guide Main Page

Text copyright 2005-2010 and may not be reproduced without consent. This is not the official web page of any of the products listed on this site, this is a review page created by an individual. It is not by a vet, and is meant to be informative and not to substitute for a vet's advice - always consult a vet if you suspect a health problem.