Safety Tips for Using Flea and Tick Products on Pets
Flea and Tick Prevention: Special Warnings
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulate flea and tick products for safety. The FDA deals with drug safety and the EPA with pesticide safety. In 2009, the FDA issued a warning about spot-on flea and tick products. This came in response to a big increase in reports about reactions in pets, ranging from mild skin reactions to seizures and even death.
At this time, the FDA is not recommending that pet owners stop using these products. But it strongly suggests using caution and closely following directions. This illustrates why: ASPCA Animal Poison Control data shows that fewer than 2% of cats have a major problem when pet owners use products correctly. This jumps to 20%, however, when they use them incorrectly.
Flea and Tick Prevention: Carpets, Floors, and Yards
Controlling fleas on your pets may not eliminate them from their environment. And if your pet is sensitive to flea or tick control products, tackling the environment may be the best place to start. If you treat your house with an insecticide, ask your vet which ones are safe around pets and children.
Take these other steps to control or even eliminate fleas:
- Vacuum daily, including carpets, cushioned furniture, baseboards, and basement. Remember to throw away the vacuum bag or thoroughly wash the canister after each use.
- Steam clean regularly, especially areas where animals sleep.
- Wash pet and human bedding at least every two to three weeks.
Of course, keeping cats indoors may be the easiest way to prevent fleas and ticks. But if you have a dog, you may need to take steps to reduce fleas and ticks in your yard:
- Regularly remove leaf litter and tall grasses and brush.
- Remove plants that attract deer, which are big carriers of ticks.
- Keep garbage covered and out of reach. This will discourage other tick and flea hosts, such as raccoons and rodents.
- If it’s hard to find safe chemical control agents, consider using nematodes. These are microscopic worms that kill flea larvae and cocoons. Ask your pet or garden store for more information.