A new study has found that there is widespread exposure to multiple pesticides in pet cats and dogs mostly from flea and tick products. The study concluded that “pesticide exposure in dogs and cats has been linked to mammary cancer, lymphoma, bladder cancer, and oral squamous cell carcinoma, reflecting effects similar to those reported in human studies.”
Worryingly they state the following: “This study provides evidence that pet dogs and cats are exposed to certain pesticides at levels that warrant immediate attention”.
I would urge any cat and dog owner to immediately assess the pesticides and insecticides that they use in and around the home including those used on their companion animals. Personally, I never use them and believe them to be inherently dangerous both for people and their pets.
I’m referring to a study published on the Science Direct website called: “An assessment of exposure to several classes of pesticides in pet dogs and cats from New York, United States”.
The “highlights” from the study are as follows: 30 pesticides were assessed in dog and cat urine.
There are elevated concentrations of a pesticide called imidacloprid in the urine of cats and dogs. Imidacloprid is a pesticide used in the flea and tick treatments called Advantage® and Defense Care®. These are topical medications (spot on). The chemical is also used in combination with other medications to treat other parasites such as heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, whip worms, scabies, demodex, ear mites, chewing lice and mosquitoes.
The pesticide is authorised for use by the FDA in the USA. However, when treating certain parasitic infections, it is used “off label”. This means that it is used in a way which is not authorised, but which is considered to be acceptable by veterinarians. However, it appears that they are poisoning cats and dogs according to the study which leads me to the next “highlight”.
The daily intake of certain pesticides exceeds the “respective reference values”. I take that to mean that cats and dogs are exposed to pesticides at a level which considered to be dangerous and unacceptable.
Cat and dog owners might not be aware of it, but pesticides are nasty chemicals that are used all over the place in the home. For example, what about lawn and garden treatments? Cat and dog owners should seriously question whether they should use lawn treatments.
The scientists in the study said that “exposure to pet dogs and cats to pesticides used in and around homes (e.g., lawns and gardens) is a significant health concern. Cat and dog owners should be fully aware of that and reassess their use of pesticides and other chemicals.
The scientists also state that “little is known regarding the extent of pesticide exposure in pets”. Comment: when you consider how dangerous these chemicals are you have to conclude that we should know precisely what the problem is.
They state that the total median concentrations of the studied pesticides in cat and dog urine were 38.1 and 35.2 ng/mL respectively.
The most common pesticide found in the urine of cats and dogs are called neonics. This one chemical alone accounted for 80% of the total concentrations.
What are neonics? The word is short for ‘neonicotinoids‘. They are chemicals used to protect plants by controlling harmful insects. Chemically there are similar to nicotine. The finding implies that garden chemicals are getting into cats and dogs and harming them.
Humans are also exposed to these chemicals and at risk of being injured by them. They been linked to autism spectrum disorder, memory loss and finger tremors for example. ‘Neonicotinoid’ describes a family of chemicals such as: acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam.
Imidacloprid – too much is getting into cats
You will see in that list “imidacloprid”. This is the most widely used insecticide in the world from 1999 through to 2018. But note that there are many more toxic pesticides getting into cats at too high a level and harming them. See some more articles at the base of this one.
Elevated levels of imidacloprid were found in the urine of cats and dogs. The concentration for cats was 1090 ng/mL and for dogs it was 115 ng/mL. As you can see the level in cats is much higher than that in dogs. That implies that cats are lying around lawns and in bushes where they pick up the chemical on their fur and then ingest it. Or they are given flea treatments containing imidacloprid far more often than for dogs.
There are thousands of products on the shelves of supermarkets containing imidacloprid including fly control products, termite control products, roach control products and bedbug killers. The chemical is in many garden products such as Bug Clear Ultra in the UK.
Imidacloprid features heavily in this study, and I would allege that the high levels in cat urine are due to the application of the spot-on flea treatment Advantage.
The point needs to be stressed. The scientists say that the daily intake of these chemicals including imidacloprid in cats “were above the chronic reference doses, suggestive of possible health risks from exposure to these pesticides”.
What they are saying is that if you apply Advantage flea treatment to your cat to control fleas, you are actually harming your cat because you are exposing your cat to levels of this insecticide which is “above the current reference values in certain cases”. That means they end up with more insecticide in their body then the authorities agree is safe.
Imidacloprid – cat and dog owners are also exposed to it
And what should worry owners as well is that the owners are at risk because they can ingest imidacloprid after they’ve applied it to their cat or dog. The chemical gets on their skin, and they lick their fingers, for example, before washing their hands. They handle food after giving a flea treatment to their cat and then eat the food. Or you might breathe the mist or spray from the product. And if you grow vegetables or fruit in your garden and spray them with an insecticide containing this chemical it is perfectly possible that you will be ingesting it.
Effect of insecticides on people and pets
Farmworkers who ingested this nasty chemical reported skin or eye irritation, dizziness, breathlessness, confusion and vomiting. Sometimes pet owners have skin irritation after they have applied spot-on flea treatments to their cats. Pets can end up vomiting or drooling after oral exposure to imidacloprid. Sometimes pets have skin reactions to pet products containing imidacloprid.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has decided that there is no link between imidacloprid and cancer using animal studies. That means they been animal testing and killing animals it seems to me.
And we mustn’t forget the kids. They are more likely to be exposed to pesticides and are more susceptible to the effects. They spend more time on the ground.
Overriding conclusion: get rid of all your pesticides for the garden if you have a pet. Throw away your spot-on flea treatments and flea cpmb your cat twice a day and go throughout the home and make sure that it is flea-free. That will take time, but it should be done physically in a holistic way and with great commitment!
P.S. The report is very technical and therefore hard to write about. I think scientists should write two reports: one for scientists and the other for laypeople i.e., non-experts 😒✔️😃.
Below are some more pages on flea treatments. There are many more pesticides to which cats are exposed.