|Barked: Wed Feb 20, '08 3:38pm PST |
|Story form the aikenstandard.com
Beware of over-the-counter flea treatments
By HALEY HUGHES
Clearwater resident Janet Pearson did not think twice when she bought an over-the-counter flea and tick treatment product for her three dogs. She should have, local veterinarians say.
Pearson had used Frontline before -- a product recommended by veterinarians -- with no problems but chose to buy the over-the-counter topical because of its lower price.
"Within 30 minutes of using it, my first Shih Tzu was throwing up," she said.
Eventually, all three shih tzus were exhibiting adverse reactions like vomiting, involuntary twitching and hyperactivity. Pearson and her husband quickly washed each dog and eventually they returned to normal.
"I asked my vet about it and he said we were lucky," Pearson said.
Over-the-counter products may contain certain ingredients -- like permethrin and allethrin -- that may harm pets, said Veterinary Services Veterinarian Dr. Holly Woltz. Permethrin and allethrin are common, synthetic chemicals widely used as insecticides. The chemicals can be found in some over-the-counter flea and tick products and also in flea collars.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, cats are particularly vulnerable to the chemicals since they can lack the enzymes for metabolizing and detoxifying them and can ingest them by licking their fur.
Not only can these products be harmful to pets, they don't work, Woltz said.
"There is no lasting protection," she said. "It does not spread throughout the coat. Overdose situations lead to (gastrointestinal) problems like diarrhea and vomiting and neurologic signs like tremors and convulsions."
The attraction to over-the-counters is the lower price, Woltz added. But just because something is cheaper does not make it better. If a customer is worried about cost, the vet-recommended products can be bought singly.
"OK, cost is a factor," she said. "If you're saving money, save it somewhere else."
Effective topicals recommended by vets -- like Advantage, Frontline and Revolution -- distribute over the skin, take action quickly and can last for at least 30 days. These products are designed to have fewer toxic effects on the nervous systems of mammals.
Still, some animals can be more sensitive to products than others, even those recommended by a vet. They should not be used on the very old, very young, pregnant or sick pets.
Dr. Trey Wofford with Palmetto Vet Calls urged pet owners to check the contents of over-the-counter products with their vets before use.
Wofford said if a person has used an over-the-counter treatment and the animal is reacting badly, the animal should be washed thoroughly then the pet owner should contact a vet.
"I won't buy that product again," Pearson said. "It is a scary thing because we invest a lot of time with our dogs. Be smarter than me and ... check the product out before you buy it."
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