Hartz Mountain Disputes The Center for Public Integrity’s Story on Pets and Pesticides

Please read the full article here: http://www.publicintegrity.org/blog/entry/1400/

Earlier this month, the Center received a five-page “open letter” from Hartz Mountain Corporation alleging that our 12/16/08 story, Pets and Pesticides: Let’s Be Careful Out There, contained inaccurate and misleading information about spot on flea and tick treatments for pets.

Marta Draper, vice president of research and development for Hartz, contends in her letter that Hartz spot on products are as safe or safer than the more expensive products sold by veterinarians. And she asserts that the Center made pyrethroid-based spot on treatments seem especially dangerous by misquoting — or quoting only selectively — from an article published in The Veterinary Journal in June 2008.

We’ve provided the full text of Ms. Draper’s letter: We respectfully disagree, though, with Ms. Draper’s contentions, and would like to take this opportunity to respond.

Ms. Draper says we incorrectly characterized The Veterinary Journal piece by saying in our story that “dermal exposure by application to the skin or coat is the most common route of toxic exposure, potentially causing hyperexcitability, tremors, profuse salivation, and seizures.” We believe we accurately reflected The Veterinary Journal piece; that piece said that “dermal exposure by the skin and hair coat is the most frequent route that leads to intoxication” and then went on to say that signs of pyrethroid intoxication include “salivation, hyperexcitability, hyperaesthesia, tremor and seizures, dyspnoea, prostration.” Ms. Draper also labels as a “gross mischaracterization” our contention that pyrethroid toxicity targets nerve and muscles in pets. That contention relied on The Veterinary Journal piece, which stated that “Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids affect the voltage-dependant chloride channels found in the brain, nerves, muscle tissue, and salivary glands.”

Ms. Draper also asserts in her letter that we left out important information that was included in The Veterinary Journal report. We disagree. Listed below are the alleged omissions she cites, and quotes from our story:

* Pyrethrin and pyrethroid pesticides are less toxic than the organophosphate products they replaced. Our story says organophosphate products were replaced by pyrethroids, “which are generally thought to be less acutely toxic.”
* In most cases misuse of these pesticides by pet owners is what causes bad reactions. Our story says, “The authors of the study in The Veterinary Journal agree that misuse of pyrethroid products is often the cause of illnesses…”
* The best way to avoid problems is by educating pet owners. Our story directly quotes The Veterinary Journal piece, in stating that,“ ‘The best way to avoid serious problems is by educating pet owners to use products strictly according to label directions.’ ”
* Veterinarians need to advise clients to read directions before using products. Again, we quoted directly from The Veterinary Journal story, in saying that “‘Veterinarians must advise clients using flea care products to read and follow label instructions completely before applying them on or around their pets.’”
* Products labeled for dogs should never be used on cats. Our story says, product labels contain “multiple warnings not to it use on cats,” and later, “Common misapplications include applying more powerful dog products to cats.”


We inherited fleas when some critters (raccoons, feral cats) set up residence under the house when a plumber failed to close a crawl space door.  I evicted the critters with bowls of ammonia and mothballs (they hated the scent and made a fast beeline for the door), but I was left with the fleas, who found their way inside my livingroom.

Last week, I bought a Hartz Flea Collar for my 15-year old cat to stave off the fleas, and she’s been acting strangely ever since.  Crying in pain at night for no obvious reason, scabs covering her entire body from head to toe (but no fleas to be found!), lethargic, glazed eyes, hiding in weird places, and acting very strange.  Normally, she is very prissy, very active, and “talks” a lot when something displeases her.  I was beside myself trying to figure out what was happening with her.

Thank GOD I found this site today!!! I IMMEDIATELY removed the collar, went to the store and bought some “home remedy” flea deterents, and am hoping for the best. Not sure she would have made it much longer had I not read these posts.

Thank you all sooooo much!!! You have probably saved my cat’s life.

Mya Lane

Hartz almost killed my Chihuahua

I had no idea about 11/2 years ago that I was unintentually poisoning my little Chihuahua, Boo.  We had gone to the pet store and purchased the Hartz 3-pack of drops to use because it was cheaper than the other flea and tick medications.  Soon after the first application, she had a seizure.  I did not put two and two together because it had been several days since applying the treatment.  I started doing some research on Chihuahuas and found that occasionally they had seizures.  I just assumed that this was common.  I didn’t think anything of it.  A couple of months later we applied the Hartz again and soon after that she had another seizure.  I was so scared that I called the vet and they said that they could do some blood work for about $300 but even then they may not know what caused the seizures.  So I didn’t do the blood work.  Again a couple months later it happened again!  We stopped buying the Hartz because the smell was so strong, we still had no idea about the Hartz medicine being linked to seizures.  Since we have not bought the Hartz medication, my Boo has NOT had one seizure.  My husband, just the other night, was watching the local news and saw this story.  He said, “I think we have figured out the mystery to her seizures”! And then he told me about the medication.  I can’t believe that this is still happening to other pets after 11/2 years ago.  Why are they still letting this medication hurt our animals?  We must do something!  I don’t know what I would do if I lost my little girl!  She is very young and the seizures were the scariest thing to go through.  Not knowing and worrying all the time about her, and then the guilt of now knowing that we were accidentally poisoning her is heart breaking!  We must do something!


A few weeks ago my cat went outside to enjoy the sun while I was leaning my apartment and everything was fine. A few days later I noticed that she had some flea’s so with my not having a lot of money I went to wal-mart and picked up some hartz pro plus for cats over 5lbs because she was at least 18lbs I thought the product was working because the fleas were going away a few at a time. She started to act not in her normal way, she would sleep in the bathtub on her own, or sleep in her litterbox when it wasn’t clean. They didn’t go away like the box said they would so on the night of May 28 2009 I gave her a bath with flea shampoo that I also bought at wal-mart (not hartz though) and on the morning of the 29th I found her sleeping in a cubord in my kitchen I didn’t think anything of it then she started to make a noise that didn’t sound right and I went into the kitchen to get her, when I went to take her out the of the cubord I had to pull her because she was very limp and bearly breathing so I got her into her carrier at rushed her to the vet and that is when I was told that she had a mass on her liver due to the flea oinment not working and going strait to the liver, the vet said there was nothing that could be done and the best thing for her was to put her to sleep, I had her for almost 12 years, I got her two weeks before my birthday and she died two week before her 12th birthday. I am letting everyone I know not to use hartz flea product…RIP MITTENS 5/29/09

Hartz Flea drops DANGER !

After I applied Hartz flea & tick drops onto my very healthy cat, she immediately started licking herself,looked miserable, and then went outside.  I didn’t see her until the next night, when I almost tripped over her in my closet. She was curled up in a ball, listless, feeling warm and breathing heavily. I shampooed her to get the stuff off, and watched her all night.  She wouldn’t eat or drink, she wouldn’t open her eyes, if she moved she was wobbly, she just looked terrible.  It was the weekend at night and I wasn’t sure where I could even bring her for help.  Then I went on the internet and found out that it was probably the Hartz drops.  I panicked and felt terrible that I had poisoned my cat.  The next day I bathed her again, and she started to show some improvement, so I decided to wait and see.  It has been about a week, and now she is back to her old self.  I am sure she almost died because of the Hartz flea and tick drops.  I am enraged that this company continues to sell this product which is basically poison and they need to be stopped!  My cat was healthy before the flea and tick drops and I know I applied it correctly.  Shame on them!   I

Sherbie 3 year old Cat spends time in ICU due to Hartz

Sherbie was given Hartz Flea and Tick medicine on his back according to directions on the package at 7:00am on Tuesday May 26, 2009.  He was found 2 hours later, he was not able to walk very good and he was shaking.  My husband took him to our Vet when he noticed he was not getting any better, where they informed us that he had been poisoned by the medication we had applied to him. He was experiencing seizures, a high temperature, and was unable to walk or respond.  He had bitten his tongue because of the seizures.  He was given a bath to remove the Hartz Flea and Tick medication residue, and given Valium to control the seizures.  Regular Vet Offices do not carry the medicine used to stop seizures in their offices so they then had us transport him to the Emergency Pet Hospital where they put him on a IV, gave Sherbie more Valium and Robaxin to control the seizures and to keep his temperature from rising due to the seizures.  He had to receive this every hour to keep the tremors under control.  There is nothing worse then to see your pet going thru seizures and you are unable to do anything to stop it.  Because this was not a 24 hours facility he was then transported by us to Med Vet Hospital that had a 24 hours service in Mission Kansas where they continued with the IV’s, the Robaxin and Valium every 1-2 hours.  Today is the 3rd day of treatment, he is finally showing some improvement, although he still has slight seizures and they continue to give him the Robaxin and Valium.  He is a little more alert.  His kidney’s are working and the blood work was good. 

The problem with Hartz Flea and Tick Treatment is that it affect their Central Nervous System.  I want to alert pet owners out there to not use Hartz Products.  Purchase your Pet’s Flea and Tick Treatments from a Vet Office or Pet Hospital.  We have paid over $1200.00 so far for Sherbie’s treatment which could have been prevented had we known about Hartz and the problems and heart ache it has caused Pet Owners.  Our local TV station aired a segment saying Beware of Flea and Tick Treatments that are claiming Pet’s Lives.  Lets all work together to get these products taken off the market ASAP.  Target Stores have taken the first step and have taken all Hartz Products off their shelves, lets get the word out so more companies follow Target Inc. and remove the Hartz Products off the market.

Hopefully we will be able to bring Sherbie home this weekend, after 5 days of treatment and worry whether he would survive.  We are hoping there is no brain damage from the seizures and that he won’t have to take seizure medicine.  He is usually a very active cat that goes on walks with us and our golden retriever.  He loves to be outside and that is why we used the medicine.  He tends to bring home ticks during this time of year.  And even though we comb him well, we feel that we should use some type of treatment too.  We will be very careful from now on what you use or put on our pets.

Thanks for allowing me to tell my story.  Susan Pritchard Kansas City Missouri


My niece asked to see Cujo as she hadn’t seen her in a while, when I took her downstairs I found Cujo sitting under a chair breathing heavy as if she couldn’t breathe. Her eyes were half closed and she just looked like something wasn’t right with her. She then walked upstairs and walked fairly slowly. When she got upstairs she defecated on herself as she had diarrhea and she threw up a couple of times.  It was late at night so I contacted an ER vet. I explained the problem and they told me to come in immediately. I brought her in and she was a totally different cat. She was alert, bright eyed and appeared fine. The vet checked her vitals, looked her over and said she appears fine. He offered to perform a series of tests that totalled about $250, but said he thinks she’s perfectly fine and that there shouldn’t be a problem so I did not get the tests. As soon as I got her home, she was vomiting all over the place, barely able to breathe and she went into a corner to hide. She died soon after. I immediately thought of the product I applied to her a couple of days prior (Hartz Ultra Guard Plus spray). I followed the instructions as directed on the label and sprayed her entire coat with an even spray all around. Cujo licked all of this off of her and a couple of days later, she passed.

This Must Stop!

On Sunday, May 24, 2009 I gave my two Lhasa-Shiz-Tzu’s a Sergeant’s Gold Flea & Tick treatment.  Since I had not used this item in the past, I decided to only give them a half-dose so I split one tube between the two of them.  Within an hour, they both started to scratch at their neck/upper back area.  Within two hours, they both were utterly miserable.  They were whining, pacing, drooling, shaking, crying and panting.  And without knowing I was doing so, I made it worse by taking wet towels and trying to rub the stuff off of them.  I called the emergency vet’s number and was advised to bathe them in Dawn dishwashing liquid and give them 1 mg of Benadryl per pound of weight.  So there I am, at 2:00 a.m. with my two babies in tub scrubbing like a madwoman.  The vet had advised me to bathe them at least twice and preferably three times.  They also advised me to watch them closely for neurological problems, such as seizures or uncontrollable twitching.  If these symptoms began, I was to bring them in immediately for an injection. 

The vet stated without hesitation that this is one of the most common calls that they receive.  Enormous numbers of our pets are put through sheer hell by a company whose name we had no reason to mistrust.  The vet went on to say that they just cannot believe this item has not been pulled from store shelves due to the high number of dogs that have horrific reactions.

As I write this, it has been just over 72 hours since they were initially unintentionally poisoned by me.  Of course I feel terrible that I brought this upon them since these are my baby girls.  However, my fear for them is now turning into extreme anger at the Sergeants/Hartz company for not having adequate warnings on their boxes.  I am considering my next steps because I want to ensure that I don’t cover ground that has already been taken on by others.  However, I am committed to making a strong statement to this company and I will keep a log of all I do, everyone I speak with and what, if any, changes are promised or made. 

I am a federal employee and my position requires me to have contacts all over the country.  One of my first steps has already been to begin spreading the word.  And to each person to whom I speak, I end the story with “Tell everyone you know who cares about animals”.  From what I can tell, in the past two days, I have spoken to at least two dozen people who have each told a dozen people and so on.  Do the math.  The word of mouth impact of this has the potential to be enormous if everyone does this one small thing.  I plan to place notifications on craigslist as well as writing to my local paper with a letter to the editor to warn others. I truly hope they contact me and want to do a follow up story as I would be delighted to show pictures of these adorable girls and tell about the horror they endured.

I have not contacted the Sergeant’s/Hartz company yet as I felt it was too soon.  I wanted to ensure my girls were truly going to be okay before I did that.  One of my girls (Hollie Joy) is not eating well yet but Abbie Mae has her appetite back now today.

I would be happy to hear from others about what steps they have taken, what responses they have received and what future plans are in the works.  I am so incredibly angry about this and I need to find a useful outlet for this anger as ranting and raving will do nothing for anyone.


I applied Sentry Pro FXC to my beautiful Weimaraner.  Within 2 hours he became extremely hyper and visibly in pain.  After touching him and then my face I felt a horrible burning sensation. I tried shampooing the product off him and called the Emergency Veterinary clinic as it was on the holiday week-end.  They instructed me to immediately wash it off twice using Dawn dishsoap, which I quickly did.  Several days later he has open sores on his back, a cough and lack of appetite.  He had a second visit to the vet and got a shot and 3 prescriptions.  The vet believes he will make a full recovery.  However, I believe he may well have died if I had not gotten the product off so quickly!  This product is deadly and should be pulled from the market immediately!!

My cat almost died after Hartz

On May 13, 2009 I applied the flea drops to the neck of my one year old cat, Belle.  It was not long after that I noticed an odd noise in the kitchen.  When I went to check, I found Belle in the midst of a seizure.  What I heard was him thumping around in the chair.  I called my husband to the kitchen to help.  After the seizure Belle was stretched out like he was trying to cough  up a hairball, thinking he was choking, my husband grabbed the flash light and checked in his throat.  It was right after this that the cat went limp.  While my husband was performing CPR on Belle, I noticed he was not breathing.  Not sure on how to give a cat mouth-to-mouth, I just put his entire nose and mouth in my mouth and gently blew until I saw his ribs expand as if he were breathing.  After what seemed like an eternity, he started severe twitching and had fully dilated pupils.  Then another seizure.  My husband wrapped Belle in a towel and off to the emergency vet. 

As soon as I got to the vets office, they asked about flea drops and I told them that I had used some earlier on Belle.  They knew right off which brand, Hartz.  After a bath, an all night long IV, valium, and another drug to counter-effect the flea drops my Belle is fine and healthy.  According to the vet, 5 out of ever 1,000 cats have this sort of reaction that Belle had and were it up to him, this stuff would be pulled from the market. 

Today, a few weeks later, Belle is back to normal and healthy.  Were it not for the fact that Belle is a year old healthy cat, I am not sure he would be here today.  Toss the Hartz in the garbage.

Ms Lori