Give clients these tips on topical flea and tick products


Pet Poison Helpline offers advice to pet owners following the EPA's investigation of spot-on products.

Much has been made lately about new safety regulations for spot-on flea and tick products. After the EPA's findings last year that adverse reactions from the products had increased, the organization has mandated new labeling requirements and increased monitoring for adverse events.

Pet Poison Helpline has compiled information and advice for pet owners worried about using the products. Here are some of the most important things for pet owners to keep in mind.

Incident rates are very low. The EPA found that the overall incident rate for flea and tick products was about 16 incidents per 100,000 applications. The incident rate for cases with a major or fatal outcome was about one in 200,000.

Treatment can cause itching. Using fast-acting topical flea and tick medications can cause itching or brief irritation at the application site. Pets' skin might twitch, or they may fidget, roll around, and scratch in response, but this reaction usually subsides quickly.

Paresthesia can develop. A small number of treated pets-particularly smaller breeds-may experience paresthesia, or a tingling at the application site. Clinical signs are those similar to the itching described above. These incidents are rare and are usually mild and self-limiting, but do account for a large number of the reported incidents.

Most adverse reactions are caused by operator error. For example, a pet owner might mistakenly apply a dog product to a cat or miscalculate the dose.

Encourage your clients to follow these tips from Dr. Lynn Hovda, DACVIM, director of veterinary services for Pet Poison Helpline, when using topical flea and tick products:

> Read and follow the directions on the product.

> Know the exact size and weight of your animal and use the correct dose amount. Don't guess.

> Use the correct product for your animal (don't use a dog product on a cat, or vice versa).

> Watch for adverse reactions, like skin irritation or redness, diarrhea, vomiting, trembling, or seizures.

Make sure clients are aware that they should call their veterinarian, the product manufacturer, or Pet Poison Helpline when they notice adverse reactions. And reinforce the Companion Animal Parasite Council's statement that the risks for disease from parasites far outweigh the concerns about spot-on flea and tick products.

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