In 2012 the EPA notified manufacturers to make labeling changes to spot on flea and tick products, yet 3 years later…..
We see that in spite of a disturbing rise in adverse reactions to these products, most manufacturers have yet to implement any changes to labeling. The EPA’s recommendations request the labeling to provide clearer instructions, which identify which species (dog or cat) the product is intended for, and hopefully, information on toxicity and documented adverse effects. Dog products should carry specific warnings about use on cats. A lot of people are unaware that flea treatments can kill or make a cat very ill.
In 2009, the EPA issued an advisory about these products after receiving over 44,000 reports of adverse reactions during 2008, including 600 deaths, a 57 percent increase in incidents in a single year. In 2010, the EPA published the results of a year long study of spot on flea and tick products, which lists 12 specific kinds of adverse reactions, and identified certain susceptible breeds, and problematic ingredients.
It seems that the safest use of these spot on products is not to use them at all. According to Dr. Karen Becker, there are safer effective alternatives to chemical pesticides to help control fleas and ticks. She recommends some alternatives such as cedar oil (specificially manufactured for pet health) and a natural pest deterrent that is chemical free, like Natural Flea and Tick Defense. It only contains safe Brazilian oils and pure water, and has a pleasant smell. Also repels flies and mosquitos She also suggests food grade diatomaceous earth.
Fresh garlic is an option, but you would need to work with a holistic vet to determine safe amounts for your pet’s weight.
Feeding a balanced species appropriate diet supports a strong immune system, which is less likely to attract parasites. Bathing and brushing while performing frequent full body inspections, is also important. Make sure your indoor and outdoor environments are unfriendly to pests (she doesn’t elaborate on how to do this but carpets harbour fleas).
What is important to note is that a product that “repels” does not kill. So if your pet already has fleas, you need something more than a repellent. I have found a company that I trust that has products specificially formulated by the highly respected holistic vet and author, Dr. Jean Hofve. She is also one of the people who have joined with Susan Thixton of TruthAboutPetFood to prepresent pet guardians at the AAFCO meeting in August 2015.
The company is Only Natural Pet, located in Colorado, and they ship worldwide. I was amazed to learn that Dr. Hofve is also a “cat behaviorist”. What more can we ask for?
They provide the highest quality and safest products at some of the lowest prices I’ve seen for comparable items. They have a range of non-toxic natural flea and tick control products, including squeeze on tubes for control and repelling. They also have collars, and bio energetic tags, and a diatomaceous powder that’s an all in one flea remedy. Check out their products online at www.OnlyNaturalPet.com
They’ve been in business since 2004. I think we finally have a company who really cares!
P.S. From Michael: I have used spot on flea treatments as a last resort. There are alternatives which should be tried first as suggested by Sandy. Also, if it is practical, good management of the home can help remove fleas (an holistic approach is essential). For instance, I removed a carpet and had bare wooden floors throughout a flat I recently lived in. This helped a lot. These are proactive measures. Another is to be aware of fleas early to stop infestations. Regular flea combing is ‘de rigueur’ I believe. Simply resorting to insecticides as the first and easiest option is not wise in my view. Often they don’t succeed because the fleas are still in the home. Also spot treatments don’t stop flea bite allergies because the flea has to bite before being killed. If you are intent on using insecticides, don’t use Bob Martin spot on treatment – read this.
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