Hartz, Bio Spot and Others in the Media

You may have read recent media reports (such as this one on NBC) regarding adverse reactions said to be caused by certain supermarket and pet store brand flea and tick control products such as Hartz, Sergeant's  and Bio Spot. The reports are certainly disturbing with claims that these products have caused seizures, burns, vomiting and even death in dogs and  cats.
The problem with products like Hartz and Biospot, the report says, is with the type of pesticide they contain, called pyrethrins or the synthetic versions known as pyrethroids.

The Centre for Public Integrity reports that pyrethroid spot-ons account "for more than half of 'major' pesticide pet reactions reported to EPA over the last five years--that is, those incidents involving serious medical reactions such as brain damage, heart attacks, and violent seizures."

The Humane Society of the United States   has also expressed concerns about products which contain pyrethroid-based products and the HSUS also suggests pet owners be wary of products containing organophosphate insecticides (OPs).

In 2000, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report called Poisons on Pets: Health Hazards from Flea and Tick Products which lists flea- and tick-control products marketed under the following major brand names that have been found to contain OPs: Alco, Americare, Beaphar, Double Duty, Ford's Freedom Five, Happy Jack, Hartz, Hopkins, Kill-Ko, Protection, Rabon, Riverdale, Sergeant's, Unicorn, Vet-Kem, Victory, and Zema.

Our VetShopOnline veterinarians and many other vets agree that while there may not currently be sufficient evidence to prove these products are dangerous or are the direct cause of serious illness or death, there certainly is sufficient cause to exercise caution when using products which contain these active ingredients. Because of these concerns and the existence of what we consider to be more effective alternatives, VetShopOnline does not sell Hartz, BioSpot or the other products listed above.

Instead we agree with the recommendations of the Humane Society   that "consider several topical products that are insecticides designed to have fewer toxic effects on the nervous systems of mammals: imidacloprid (found in Advantage®), fipronil (in Frontline® or Top Spot®), and selamectin (in Revolution™)." 

And our course,  you should always remember these simple precautionary steps:

  • Always consult a veterinarian before buying or using any flea or tick control product on your pet.
  • Never use flea and tick products designed for dogs on your cat, or vice versa.
  • Never apply pesticides to very young, elderly, pregnant, or sick animals unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.
  •  Always read the ingredients, instructions, and warnings on the package thoroughly.

If you think your pet has had or is having an adverse reaction to a product containing pyrethrins, pyrethroids or organophosphate insecticides, please be sure to contact your local veterinarian or pet emergency center urgently.

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