Copyright (c) 2012 Dr. Deva Khalsa
Safe and natural flea remedies that actually work are available on the market. Natural tick products are also available. Additionally, there are some home made recipes that you can use to prevent infestation of fleas and ticks. It’s important that we have options that work because the veterinary products that are commonly used have been found to have many adverse side effects. This article will discuss fipronil, present in many spot-on products
Ticks and fleas are an all too common problem with our dogs and cats. Ticks carry many serious diseases- Lyme disease being the most commonly known. It’s in our pets best interest to prevent them from getting ticks and fleas but the methods we use to prevent this may have their own adverse health effects that can be more serious than the problems we’re preventing.
Despite advertising claims to the contrary, topical treatments with fipronil (the active ingredient in Frontline) do enter our pets’ internal organs and are eventually eliminated in their feces and urine. Additionally, children and adults interacting with pets treated with these chemicals can also be affected by the toxins.
All flea and tick products are made up of “active” and ” inert” ingredients. The active ingredients target and kill fleas- but some of the inert ingredients are also toxic, although the word suggests that they’re safe. Unfortunately, all the “active” ingredients in the spot on preparations have been linked to serious health effects in laboratory animals.
For instance, Dr. Dobozy of the EPA’s Pesticide Division states that the fipronil in the (Frontline) formulations for pets ” is a persistent chemical that has the potential for nervous system and thyroid toxicity after long term exposure at low dosages.” Laboratory health effects include thyroid cancer and altered thyroid hormones, liver toxicity, kidney damage, convulsions, whining, barking, crying, loss of appetite, reduced fertility, fetus mortality, smaller offspring, loss of hair at or beyond the application site, moist inflammation, chemical burn and itching.
Veterinarians, like myself, were told that Frontline is not absorbed systemically. In fact, many years ago, this fact made me a proponent of Frontline. It’s important to prevent Lyme disease. Therefore, a simple spot-on product that was effective in deterring fleas and was limited to the skin’s surface was a welcome tool. Merial’s web site states the fipronil is absolved into the skin and the sebaceous glands (oil glands) provide a natural reservoir. It creates the impression that the product does not migrate into your pet’s body. Yet Dr. Dobozy’s study showed that a significant amount of radio-labelled fipronil was found in various organs and fat and was also excreted in their urine and feces. So much for Frontline limiting it’s range to the skin of dogs and cats.
Is it safe to continually use fipronil on our pets? This is one veterinarian who feels that the medical problems resulting from its use far outweigh any benefits provided.