c369d7a4c356949cb5f8f98c1bc3239cApril 16, 2009 – EPA Increases scrutiny of ‘spot on’ type flea and tick insecticides – a list of product brand names printed on the EPA website

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Within the next few days, the ‘LIST” of product brands disappears! The EPA – on their website – promises to reprint that list when all data has been compiled. A Nose for News – an exclusive blog production of the CanineKingdom.com – has published the ‘LIST’ for those interested in products that have caused up to 44,000 adverse reactions, including 1,300 major or fatal reactions. Please visit A Nose for News blog – April 28.

EPA announces that officials of the EPA and representatives of flea and tick product manufacturers will meet throughout the week of May 4, 2009. I asked if they could let me know about the proceedings and received this answer.

“Thank you for your inquiry. EPA expects to meet with manufacturers of spot-on flea and tick products the week of May 4, 2009. This is not a public meeting; however, it is standard practice to prepare a summary of the meeting and place it and meeting materials in the docket for the public to view. This meeting is to discuss the registrants’ product licenses and what measures might be necessary to better protect pets. EPA is committed to keeping the public informed as this evaluation proceeds. The FOIA Web site is available at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/foia/”

So, as a journalist, I am all too familiar with what this means. To find out what happened at these meetings I must file an inquiry via the Freedom of Information Act. I will, but in some cases it can take years to gather needed information. Dog parents do not have years – flea and tick season is upon us now!

I truly doubt that the EPA will re-print that ‘LIST’. I do think that a settlement was met with the manufacturers who were no doubt asked to increase the label precautions, instructions for use, maybe use larger print, and of course the … ‘do consult with your veterinarian’ caveat.

I did find this ‘warning’ on the EPA website recently:

Safety tips for pet owners:
Consult your veterinarian: Before use on weak, aged, medicated, sick, pregnant, or nursing pets, or on pets that have previously shown signs of sensitivity to pesticide products; and If your pet experiences an adverse effect.
If you use a spot-on product or any other pesticide on your pet, carefully read and follow the product label.
Use flea and tick control products only on the animal specified by the product label ─ for example, dog products for dogs only and cat products for cats only.
Follow any label prohibitions against use on weak, aged, medicated, sick, pregnant, or nursing pets, or on pets that have previously shown sensitivity to pesticide products.
Apply only the amount indicated for the size of the animal being treated.
Do not apply to kittens or puppies unless the product label specifically allows this treatment. Pay attention to the age restrictions for puppies and kittens on the label.
Monitor your pet for side effects or signs of sensitivity after applying the product, particularly when using the product on your pet for the first time. Do not apply spot-ons to pets known to be sensitive to pesticide products.
If your pet experiences an adverse reaction, immediately bathe the pet with mild soap and rinse with large amounts of water.
Keep the package with the product container (such as individual applicator tubes). Also keep the package after treatment in case adverse effects occur. You will want to have the instructions at hand, as well as contact information for the manufacturer.

Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are a serious health concern. Fleas can cause horrid allergic reactions and can be difficult to control if they infest your home and yard. Ticks may carry many different pathogens which can be fatal to humans and pets alike. Mosquitoes can spread heartworm to your pets and are know to be a vector for diseases like West Nile and malaria.

This all begs the question, how do I protect my pets without harming them?

There are numerous ‘recipes’ for so-called ‘natural’ insect repellants. But just because a preparation is dubbed ‘natural,’ does not necessarily mean that it is safe. Nightshade is a ‘natural’ plant but it can be deadly. Ingested garlic preparations are often touted to be a ‘natural’ flea and tick repellant. It is doubtful that a casual sprinkle of garlic powder added once in a while to a dog’s food would cause harm, but large amounts can cause a specific form of anemia. Essential oils are gaining in popularity as alternative treatments, however, they are unregulated and some may be toxic, particularly to felines. You may not use a ‘recipe’ on your cat but be aware that your cat may passively be ‘treated’ if your cat decides to lie on your recently treated dog’s bed. There could be deadly consequences of inadvertent ‘treatment.’

Lemon Lotion – A Natural Alternative

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Here is a paraphrased version of Juliette De Bairacli Levy’s lemon lotion for fleas, lice and ticks, from her 1955 book – The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog & Cat.

1) Pop lemon (or lime, key lime, or grapefruit) halves into a container — glass or ceramic preferably. For a gallon jar, you will need at least 24 lemon halves and enough water to fill the container. It’s not necessary to use whole `new’ lemons: you can save used lemon skins.

2) Cover the jar with a porous paper – I use a coffee filter. Place the jar with lemons and water in the sun or, alternatively, place the lemons in the container, then pour hot water over them. This is similar to ‘sun tea’ preparation.

3) Wait… until the lemons turn black and moldy. At that point, squeeze the moldy lemons out into the container and discard. Strain the Lemon Lotion into a spray bottle. Place fresh lemons into the jar with the remaining liquid, cover with water to replenish your supply of Lemon Lotion. Repeat the waiting period.

5) For a stronger lotion, you can add the juice from two fresh lemons per quart of liquid.

6) Spray your dog each morning. I use a cotton work glove – allocated for this purpose only and stored in a baggy – to reach the underbelly, and to rub into facial areas and ears. Don’t forget to treat the toes and under the tail.

The author also advises rubbing a few drops of spirit of eucalyptus into the coats of dogs that spend more time outdoors, on the top of the head, under the brisket and above the paws and on the lower legs. This is NOT advisable for homes with cats.

No repellant is 100% effective, including harsh insecticides like DEET. Lemon Lotion advocates have reported the occasional presence of ticks on their dogs – but no more than when they used the topical chemical ‘spot-on’ products.

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