On March 17, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is taking a series of steps to increase the safety of spot-on flea and tick treatments for cats and dogs. Last summer, the EPA, which regulates topical pet treatments, reported a 50% increase in the number of adverse incident reports from the use of flea and tick products. As a result, the agency is reviewing current labels—ensuring that instructions are clear—and developing stronger evaluation procedures for existing and new products.
According to the EPA's press release, the agency's new protocol includes:
Requiring manufacturers of spot-on pesticides to improve labeling, making instructions clearer to prevent product misuse.
Requiring more precise label instructions to ensure proper dosage per pet weight.
Requiring clear markings to differentiate between dog and cat products, and disallowing similar brand names for dog and cat products.
Requiring additional changes for specific products, as needed, based on product-specific evaluations.
Launching a consumer information campaign to explain new label directions and to help users avoid making medication errors.
"The ASPCA supports the EPA's focus on clear labeling to distinguish dog products from cat products," says Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA veterinary toxicologist and Senior Vice President Animal Health Services. "This alone could save cats' lives. Improving the precision of the amount applied will also increase the margin of safety for very small pets."
Dr. Hansen adds: "Post-marketing surveillance and public education will also help, but veterinary advice is still key when using these products on old, debilitated, sick or pregnant pets."
Fleas cause anemia (low red blood cell count), carry tapeworms, and can transmit infections such as Bartonella; ticks also transmit many diseases, including Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. For more information about flea and tick prevention this spring, please visit our pet care pages online.