WSJ.com: Fur Flies Over Flea Treatments

This is a story that I’m re-publishing, which was featured on WSJ.com today:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124329165300152331.html

Not long after Jennifer Croezen applied flea and tick drops to the back of her Chihuahau, Saki, earlier this month, the dog’s back began to turn red.

The next day, Saki seemed tired and lost her appetite. Ms. Croezen, a 26-year-old medical assistant, took her dog to the vet the following morning, where Saki was treated for chemical burns on her back and diagnosed with a dangerous anemia. “It makes me really mad,” Ms. Croezen says. “If I would have known it could have done this to my dog, I would have never put it on her.”

Central Life Sciences, manufacturer of the Bio Spot brand Spot On Flea & Tick Control used on Saki, says its product isn’t responsible for the anemia. “Skin sensitivity could have been exacerbated by the presence of severe anemia which led to blistering of the skin,” said Laura Petree, manager of technical services at Central Life Sciences, in a statement.

Some pet-owners are taking action because they believe their animals had reactions to fleas treatments applied directly to the pet’s back.

An increasing number of pet owners are reporting what they believe to be harmful side effects from over-the-counter and prescription flea and tick treatments. The Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates topical pet treatments, says the number of reported incidents stemming from so-called spot-on flea and tick treatments — drops that are applied directly to a pet’s skin, usually on the back — increased 53% to 44,263 in 2008 from the previous year. As a result of the increase, the EPA said last month that it is intensifying an evaluation of spot-on products.

Product manufacturers are required by law to pass along reported incidents to the EPA. In its advisory on the topic, the agency said it is evaluating all spot-on products and posted a list of those it is examining. The list includes products by major manufacturers such as Sumitomo Corp.’s Hartz Mountain Corp., Central Life Sciences, Bayer AG, maker of Advantage, and Merial Ltd., a joint venture between Merck & Co. and Sanofi-Aventis SA, that makes Frontline products. EPA advises consumers who buy treatments from any of these companies to read the label closely and apply the products as instructed.

Incidents reported to EPA range from skin irritation to seizures and sometimes death, the agency says. The reason for the rise in incidents is unclear, the agency says, adding that it is investigating the size of the market relative to the increase in reported incidents. “We are investigating and having discussions to learn more about the problem and will take action when we determine that it is warranted,” EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said in an email.

Spot-on treatments generally kill fleas and ticks by affecting their nervous systems, and some products contain chemicals that keep flea eggs from developing. Veterinarians consider them more effective than other treatments, such as shampoos and sprays, and say their use has increased in recent years. “The market has moved dramatically toward spot-ons in the last 10 to 15 years,” says Steven Hansen, a veterinary toxicologist and director of the Animal Poison Control Center at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Manufacturers are required to submit safety and efficacy studies of their flea and tick products to the EPA before they go on the market. The EPA says safety standards are the same for brands sold at pet retailers — such as Hartz and Bio Spot — as they are for those that are sold at veterinary offices, like Frontline and Advantage.

Consumers who believe their pets have had reactions to spot-on treatments are increasingly questioning the products’ safety. “I will never put flea and tick medication ever again on my dog,” Ms. Croezen says. She says Saki is doing better, but is still taking medication for her anemia.

As spot-on treatments have grown in popularity in the past decade, online forums like HartzVictims.org and BioSpotVictims.org have popped up for people who say their pets have experienced side effects following the use of flea and tick products. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, has a site called Greenpaws.org that advocates ways to take care of fleas without chemical treatment, such as using flea combs and washing a pet’s bedding once a week.

Dr. Hansen of the ASPCA says that in general, most spot-on treatments have good safety records. He says that if used appropriately, “in healthy animals we are not going to have very many reactions.” Veterinarians and manufacturers say that most of the problems they see are cases where the treatment has been misused.

Manufacturers emphasize that their treatments are safe only for the pet profile listed on the box. Product labels specify the species, age requirements and weight range of the animal to which the treatment should be applied.

One common misuse that veterinarians see is that consumers apply flea treatments meant for dogs on cats by mistake. A review of toxicity studies published in the Veterinary Journal last year concludes that cats are “most often affected by inappropriate application of the spot-on” treatments, though misuse can occur in other species.

For example, the chemical permethrin, found in spot-on treatments such as Bayer’s K9 Advantix, is safe for dogs but not for cats. In cats, “it causes their nervous system to go into overdrive,” says Mark Stickney, director of general surgery services at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “They can develop seizures.” Dr. Stickney says he sees such cases once or twice a month in the emergency room.

Also, certain animals may be more susceptible to side effects than others, veterinarians say. If an animal is pregnant, heavily flea infested or has an illness, for instance, the owner should consult with a veterinarian before applying flea treatments.

Dr. Hansen of the ASPCA advises against applying flea powders and sprays in addition to a spot-on treatment because chemicals in different products could interact with each other. “You probably do not want to double up on these,” he says.

Consumers whose pets experience unusual reactions following treatment should wash the animal with soap, unless the product label specifies otherwise, and immediately contact a veterinarian, the EPA says. They should also contact the manufacturer via the number on the product label. Manufacturers advise saving the box so that consumers can describe exactly what product was used. Companies like Central Life Sciences and Hartz say that they review complaints and decide whether to cover veterinary bills on a case-by-case basis.

The chemical burn on Saki’s back, which appeared soon after the dog received its spot-on treatment, continues to heal.

Sometimes pet owners and manufacturers disagree about whether the animal had a reaction to the flea treatment or if the pet had a pre-existing condition.

Richard Parsons, 64, of La Quinta, Calif., applied Hartz Advanced Care 4-in-1 Flea & Tick Drops for Dogs on his Scottish terrier Duffy in May 2007 and dropped the dog off at a kennel the next morning. He says he received a call two days later from the kennel saying that Duffy was experiencing seizures and vomiting. Duffy died the next day.

“It was a torturous, tragic, painful death,” says Mr. Parsons, who believes the death resulted from the Hartz treatment. He says he believes the product should be taken off the market.

Hartz reached a different conclusion after investigating the case. The company says Duffy’s illness and death was directly related to elevated sodium levels in the blood that resulted from an undiagnosed, pre-existing disease. The company says its spot-on products are safe. “You can’t get a product to market without showing a high level of safety and efficacy,” says Bill Ecker, Hartz’s chief executive.

Sergeants Gold Tick and Flea Medication almost killed my dog.

My girlfriend decided to put his 2 month treatment on my dog Kota, A Shiba Inu. We have put the medication on him before and he never had a reaction. Boy was this some harsh stuff… About 12 hours after applying the medication he started to act like it was burning him. Panting Heavily, Scratching at it, Shaking like he was having a seizure, and when he started to walk it was like something bit him and he would let out a wild screech. I called the number on the back of the box and they told me to get it off with dawn soap 2 washes. I did that and we rushed him to the vet afterwards because he was too lethargic and was still having seizures. The vet gave him benadyrl and some pain medication to help him rest and we took him home last night. He has been going crazy all day. They say that this stuff can cause kidney failure and death. So whatever you do watch your dog if this happens to you. Don’t allow him to eat protein and make sure he pees and drinks lots of fluids. Proteins can’t be excreted from the kidneys under renal failure and can cause your dog to go crazy because it breaks down into Urea and is toxic. This stuff is bad news. Kota is like my child and if something happened to one of my kids I would litterally kill the people who make this. Still thinking about it. I will call and get a refund or there will be a law suit at hand. I have already contacted my lawyer.

For future information do not EVER give a flea and tick medication that has pyridine in it. It is a poison used in sprays to kill cockroaches and insects. It is a very lethal insect killer.

I have learned my lesson I pray for the people who have lost their dogs or have had any damage from this product. It must be taken off the shelves

hartz shampoo causing long term skin problems

hi i used this product on my 1 year old cat and now he has a skin condition called Seborrhea i was wondering if any one else has had this problem. Seborrhea can be dry or oily skin or coat and he has been like this for over 2 months now

The full name of this product is hartz infusions conditioning shampoo, hairball control beads
i was wondering if anyone herd of this happing to other animals?

Charlie my Shih Tzu almost died!!!

On May 23, 2009 I applied the Sergeants Silver Flea and Tick to my 3 year old male…. He almost immediately started SCREAMing in pain. He began foaming at the mouth and vomitting. He ran around trying to scratch himself.. It was scary, I called the emergency vet and he said to wash him with dish soap. I washed him three different times and it never got better.  I spent an entire night scratching his neck and in the morning took him to the emergency vet office. He stayed in ICU for 14 hours on IV fluids, IV benedryl and pain medicine.  He was picked up last night and is  better, but still scratching. I now have to give him Benedryl every 8 hours.  How can this product still be on the market.  I felt absolutely terrible knowing that I put him through this pain.  It also cost me over $400 in treatment. WHo is going to pay this bill??? Shouldn’t the Hartz company be responsible!!!

Sergeants Silver poisoning

Add my little shih tzu to the list! I used Sergeant’s Silver on my male shih tzu last night around 7 pm and by 9 pm it was obvious something was bad wrong. He started out just violently scratching so I bathed him a few times trying to get the crap off of him, then he started twitching and acting like he was chasing something and running into everything. He was foaming at the mouth. So I took him to the emergency medical clinic and they bathed him in Dawn dishwashing liquid and gave him benadryl. He kept getting worse so I brought him to my vet at 7 am this morning. My vet was so mad and doesn’t understand why these meds haven’t been taken off the market. They kept him all day so I could get some sleep today. I picked him up around 5:00 this afternoon and the vet felt like he was better but is worried that his eyesight has been affected.

Has anyone else had any vision problems from this poison? I can’t say that the flea med has caused the blindness, but considering the neurological problems it caused, I have my suspicions. Also, how many days does it take for a dog to recover?

In closing, I will NEVER use any medications without reading up on it on the web. I am so upset that I thought because Hartz and Sergeants are sold in every store in town that it was a safe and reputable product. I live in Northwest Arkansas which is home to Wal-Mart headquarters and I will be paying a visit to several dog-loving dog-owning Wal Mart executives!

Sergeant Flea and Tick Squeeze on Medicne

This is to recount our miserable experience our dog and we suffered
after using the above product.

We purchased this medicine on Saturday, May 9, 2009 based upon the
assumption that since Sergeant is an established company its product
would be safe.

Our dog is small 13.5 lb Shi-Tzu, 14 years old and I applied the
medicine on May 10th after giving him a bath. Immediately there after
he started feeling uneasy and I thought it was an allergic reaction
and would pass. The condition got worse in the night and I took
him to his veterinarian at Healthy Pets of Rome-Hilliard, located at
Rome-Hilliard Road on Monday morning at 9:30 AM and the veterinarian
examined him at prescribed Benedryl (12.5mg, 2-3 times a day) to take
care of allergic reaction. The medicine did not help and he got worse
and the area where the medicine was applied started swelling and I
contacted the clinic on Tuesday morning to report his worsening
condition.

I also contacted Sargant’s hot line around 2:00 PM and talked to the
case worker (Case No. 471075). She recommended giving him a bath with
dish washing liquid to remove the toxicity of the medicine and apply Vitamin E oil over the affected area and we promptly carried out the recommended
treatment. The doctor on duty called and prescribed a
pain killer medicine, Torb (5mg) and  I started administering it
immediately, half a tablet every 4 hours as prescribed. More suffering
and another sleepless night for all the three of us.

This morning we called the clinic once again and by now the wound had
become infected and he was put om antibiotics,
steroids (oral and injection)  and other treatments.

Our experience is not isolated. This morning I was searching the
telephone contact number for Sargent company and I found the following
web site which enumerates 54 identical experiences we have been going
through.

It has cost us $222.00 so far to take care of the treatment and most importantly our little dog has suffered intense agony and it is heart rending to watch your pet to go through this kind of misery.

I contacted the manager of the store and urged her to remove the medicine immediately from the shelf and stop selling it. She has referred the whole matter to her corporate office.

I returned the medicine on 5/12/2009 and Meijer fully refunded the
cost of the medicine.

Attached please find two photographs showing the effect of the
medicine on our dog.

Those who want to see the destructive nature of this medicine, I will send the photographs taken of the affected area.

Priyanath

Do not use Sergeants flea / tick squeeze-on – 2 more victims

It is now 3:44 am and my pug and english bulldog are still restless, irritable and twitching.  I, like many, decided to try a product that is less expensive than frontline for flea and tick prevention.  This was a big mistake.  I feel terrible.  The symptoms are the same as most in the stories already posted.  My bulldog scratched until he was bleeding.  This was after bathing them once with their normal shampoo before I called the 800 number on the package and then two additional baths using Palmolive dish soap.  I received the same response as well…my dogs may be having a possible reaction to the substance.  This is crazy!   DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT!!! 

Hartz Heartguard Flea and Tick drops

Last weekend we thought it was a good idea to purchase Hartz Heartguard Flea and Tick drops for my 13 year old Pom-a-poo. (12lb dog) Two days after we applied this, he stopped eating all together and became very lethargic. He also started chasing his shadow and pouncing on the floor for no reason. By the second day, he started not being able to hold down water and throwing up so we rushed him to the vet. He had to go through numerous tests and was put on IV’s to flush his system out. We also bathed him after we realized this product is what almost took his life. It cost us over $1,000 in vet bills and the agony of seeing him in pain. My dog is also diabetic so it took a few days to get his insulin levels back to normal.

I really think these products need to be pulled off the market asap! How a company who says they love and care for animals sell such products that cause severe pain and death, is beyond me… If this does happen to your animal, I was told to get them on IV’s as soon as possible.

DOgs and Sentry Pro XFC!! read

i am new at this so this may not be a good post but i dont care its somthing

that needs to be put out there and takin off the shelfs! <sentry pro xfc>

first off i would like to say never use it, i just read alot of postings on it,

it is nuthing but poisen for ur animal, the box dosent warn u about how ur animal can die or

how it can have a bad reaction in witch it should! it just says how ur cat can well maybe it should say both!

Right now my dog is laying on the couch drooling out her mouth

throughing up every wheres! its clear and bubbly

why would u put that on a shelf in the store whne it just harms dogs, cats if it goes near it

OR yourself … WOULD u really want to buy it.. bigger question would u really want to sell it if u no it does harm..

i can not take her to the vet becasue they are closed

so right now i am stuck in a hole! she has an alrrigic reactiont o it cause shes itching all over i gave her a bath about 6 times trying to get it all off and thats all i can do..

she trys to eat but spits in back out

i may just be watching my dog die

and why? why why why

because sentry is poisen!

i guess the ppl that make it dont have hearts for anamails or just dont care!

so i pray to good that my dog can make it through the night

and over come this posein with as less as possible damge done!