Using Flea Products Safely  

You have two strategies for treating your dog in the ongoing battle with fleas. Traditional topical remedies include flea shampoos, dips, powders, sprays and foams. The new systemic approach uses products that work from the inside out. These
remedies, pills or topical drops, are absorbed into the dog's bloodstream or tissues and affect the eggs of offspring of fleas after they bite.

To be safe, flea-fighting products, topical or systemic, must be used correctly. The systemic approach is increasingly popular and usually guided by a veterinarian because most of these products are available only by prescription. The veterinarian advises
owners on proper use, benefits and safety. Owners who still use flea shampoo, dip or spray (and many still do as part of a home grooming program) usually have little professional guidance. This is unfortunate because topical products contain insecticides,
which can be toxic to pets and owners. Even so, it's no cause for alarm.

"Most of the materials that are registered [with the Environmental Protection Agency] are quite safe for the limited types of exposure that you're going to get doing a dog or two," said John Ross, senior toxicologist with the Worker Health and Safety Branch of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. "Actually, in the general public, this has not been a real big problem as far as we can tell. In our experience, cats tend to be a little more sensitive than dogs to some of these products." Here are a few tips for making the use of topicals as safe as possible:

Research products thoughtfully, and buy carefully. "Obviously, there are a lot of products available on the market," said Sara Ford, DVM, president of the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association. "You need to be careful with the products you purchase. I would recommend that you defer to your veterinarian: what he or she carries and what he or she say is safe."

Limit contact with insecticides. "The single biggest suggestion: to the extent that you can, avoid contact with the material,"
  Ross said. "Not necessarily because these [products] are extremely toxic, it's because you want to avoid any foreign chemical."

Follow directions. For example, if you use dip, make sure you mix it properly; if you don't dilute it, it can be toxic.

Store flea-control products safely. "Any pesticide should be stored in an area that's not accessible to children and stored separately from food so you don't get any contamination of foodstuff," Ross said.

Apply only as directed, and protect your dog's eyes during application.

Use powders and sprays outside. "Both the spray and the dust produce fine particulates that you can inhale," Ross said. "To the extent possible, try to do it so you are upwind during the application." Also, some snub-nosed breeds should not be treated with flea powder because of sensitive respiratory systems.

Beware of accidental overdosing by bombarding the dog and its environment with flea killers. "If the same active ingredient is used in both the flea collar and the dip, you're basically double-dosing the animal," said Ross.

Know your pesticides. Pyrethroids, organophosphates and carbamates are the most common adulticides found in topicals. Pyrethrins, derived from the chrysanthemum plant, are considered the safest.

"Natural" doesn't mean nontoxic. Topical products with ingredients such as rotenone (a natural insecticide made from a plant root), d-limonene (oil from citrus peel) or pennyroyal (oil from a mint) can be toxic.

Dips, sprays, shampoos, powders or foams aren't the complete answer to fighting fleas. In fact, some believe advances in flea control may eventually make using topical pesticides obsolete. Until that day comes, though, please use them safely.

By Virginia Parker Guidry

Click here to bring up the site if you're stuck in someone's frames or you just see a single page.
HomeNews Around The World  |  Store | Dachshund Clubs | Breeders | DORG Forum
 Resources | Events Coming Up | Interactive Events Calendar | Reading Room | Gallery
  Memorials | Grooming | Health Care | Food & Recipes | Behavior  | Dachshund Sports
 Magazines | Search | Contributor Info | Advertising Info | Contact & Information Page
Kennel Clubs Around the World | Adopt/Rescue | Send a Card | DORG Chat | A Look at the Past