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Healthy Pets

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Caution Urged in Use of Flea, Tick Products for Pets

Environmental Protection Agency Reacts to Reports of Health Problems in Pets

EPA Actions continued...

All of the products were linked to some reports of deaths and other serious events, but the most of the incidents were not serious.

In dogs, the EPA found that:

  • Most of the adverse events involved the dog's skin, gastrointestinal system, or nervous system.
  • Symptoms included vomiting, diarrhea, salivating, itching, hair loss, skin ulcers, lethargy, nervousness, loss of muscle coordination, tremors, and seizure.
  • Small-breed dogs were more likely to be affected. Most incidents were in dogs weighing 10 to 20 pounds.
  • Most incidents were in dogs less than 3 years old.

In cats, the EPA found that:

  • Most of the adverse events involved the cat's skin, gastrointestinal system, or nervous system.
  • Clinical symptoms were similar to those seen in dogs.
  • Many incidents arose from the treatment of cats with products intended for dogs.

Manufacturers' Reaction

WebMD asked each manufacturer to comment on the EPA action. All of those who responded expressed a willingness to work with the EPA to continue to make these products safer.

Mark Newberg, director of corporate affairs for Central Life Sciences, noted that the vast majority of people who use his firm's and other firms' products have no problem at all.

"If you look at the fact that 270 million doses of product [from all companies] were sold, and a rate of 16 incidents per 10,000, it means you have millions of dogs and cats protected from flea allergy dermatitis, tapeworm, and other diseases," Newberg tells WebMD. "These are satisfied customers. But on occasion there are adverse incidents we can't predict."

Bob Walker, director of communications and public policy for Bayer Animal Health, noted that of the 16 incidents per 10,000 doses, few were serious.

"We have done a thorough analysis of our own incident reporting, and Bayer did not see an increase for Advantage over the period cited by the EPA," Walker tells WebMD. "And our rate of adverse incidents is lower than the aggregate rate reported by the EPA."

In a statement provided to WebMD, Hartz Mountain expressed a willingness to work with the EPA on making labeling clearer.

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