Image Source: Flickr. By: Mickeymox.

Dogs and cats are plagued by flea and tick problems every year. Unfortunately, the very products that are supposed to provide our animal friends with relief from those pests are actually causing them more harm than good.

The Environmental Protection Agency receives thousands of complaints every year about flea and tick control products, especially the “spot-on” ones. These products, which claim to be able to rid the animal of any fleas, ticks, larvae and so forth, have actually triggered some rather bad health problems in a lot of animals. Skin irritation seems to be the mildest side effect, while vomiting and seizures come with the more severe cases. At least 600 deaths have also resulted in the use of these products.

The EPA notes that cats and small dogs appear to be the most vulnerable to these issues—particularly because the animal was given a product intended for a larger breed. To give an idea of how bad of a situation this is: over 44,000 reports indicated a harmful reaction to spot-on products in 2008 and nearly 29,000 were reported in 2007.

Assistant Administrator, Steve Owens, of the EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, assured that new restrictions will be placed on flea and tick products, including possible changes to some of their formulas. Owens commented that “These are poisons. These are products designed to kill fleas and ticks—and they do their jobs”. He also added that the pet owners “need to carefully read and follow all labeling before exposing your pet to a pesticide”.

If you use any spot-on flea and tick treatment on your dog or cat, some warning signs to watch out for include: burns and welts on their skin, excessive drooling, uncontrollable shaking, lost control of their legs, or other neurological problems. If your animal shows any of these signs after you administer a spot-on product, take them to the vet and get rid of that product immediately. Also, make sure to read your labels! Dog products are not to be used on cats (or cat products on dogs) and not all dog products are the same. If you have a small dog, get a product specifically labeled for small dogs.

For some great eco-friendly pet products, check out this site. They have everything available, ranging from food to collars to bath products and a lot more!

Check out these sites for a few homemade remedy ideas:

Eco Dog’s Ecotastic Herbal Flea Powder
How to Make Your Own Tick and Flea Pet Friendly Remedy
Keep Fleas and Ticks Away Naturally with Homemade Dog Biscuits