Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are flea control products slowly killing our pets?

Are the flea and tick products we use really safe for our pets?  How would we know?  If you or I ingest something toxic, we can complain about how we feel and maybe go to the doctor or ER if it's serious enough.  Our pets, however, rely on us to read telltale signs of distress that may not be readily apparent, or that may look like other problems.  They can't tell us if something isn't right.

Long term, low level exposure to toxic substances can weaken a pet's immune system and cause it to attack the healthy cells and organs in a pet's body.  This is called autoimmune or immune-mediated disease.  It can have many causes, but flea products, along with other toxic substances we put in and on our pets (like vaccines), are a leading concern.

There's an interesting article about flea products today in the ecologist.com, which describes the gradual nature of the harm that can be done by repeated use of flea and tick control products.
The problem is that ‘spot-on’ products may not harm or kill pets or humans with the initial exposure, or even after several exposures. Exposed in this way it takes longer for the negative effects – often due to and continual assault on a animal’s immune system - to reveal themselves. Vigilance is required because the health issues for flea and tick treatments are the same as with pesticide exposure to those living close to farmland, or those who use pesticides in their homes: small chronic exposures add up.

But because low dose exposures act like slow motion poison, the pesticide industry continues to mislead the public, and the government regulatory agencies, by insisting that there is no scientific proof showing a definite cause and effect link between pesticide exposure and illness in either pets or humans.

Read the full article here. 

For my own pets, I do use flea products, but I use them sparingly.  I treat--once--at the first sign of fleas, using a combination of spot products and a pill (Program) which work together; one kills the adult fleas that are living on my pets, and the other prevents adult and larval fleas in the environment from reproducing.  I've found this to be an extremely effective, double edged approach that eliminates the need for repeated exposure to these toxins.  Once I've treated my pets with these products, it takes about a month for all the adult and larval fleas to die off,  Once they do, we are flea free, and we stay that way for several years.  I don't treat again until the next time fleas appear.


  1. Our Tilly's beginnings of the diarrhea which, a month later, was diagnosed as lymphangiectasia, and which killed her about a month after _that_, began no more than a day (I believe it was the same day) when we gave her both the Advantix and the heartworm medication. ... ... After about 5 minutes at the keyboard, here, trying to think if any of the grieving rantings that swirl in my head are of any use, I think I'll just leave it at that. Thank you for this blog.

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. Not sure if you know this, but my Louie also has a diagnosis of lymphangiectasia, and I'm almost certain it is directly related to his rabies vaccine. It's so hard to know sometimes if we're really doing the right thing when we think we're doing the right thing. But the companies that make these products and many of the vets who administer them make them seem so safe, and so necessary. I hope you aren't blaming yourself, because it's not your fault!

    Big hugs to you.