Welcome to Four Paws Up!, the newsletter of

The Happy Dog Spot.

With summer in full swing, those pesky little nuisances that hound our dogs – and then our homes – are everywhere. That’s right. It’s flea season.

But before you go out and buy an over-the-counter “spot on” flea product, consider this statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control due to recent increases in the number of reported adverse reactions in pets treated with these products. Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures and, in some cases, death of the pet.

For a full update from June 23, including a link to EPA-registered spot-on flea and tick products, visit the EPA's Web page, Increased Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Products for Pets.

In this issue is some advice from Dr. Marcia Martin of Calusa Veterinary Center in Boca Raton, Florida (my dog, Chase's, holistic veterinarian). Here, Dr. Martin will differentiate between the active ingredients in the various spot-on flea and tick products and explain what to avoid.

I hope you find this information helpful. And, just in case you’re wondering what flea and tick treatment I use for Chase, the answer is – none. As Dr. Martin explains, healthy pets don’t attract fleas. I attribute Chase’s nutritious (raw) diet and supplementation for turning him into a natural canine flea repellent!

Enjoy, and here's hoping that all dogs are happy dogs.

In this Issue:

Featured Article: "A Holistic Vet's Advice on 'Spot-On' Flea and Tick Control Products for Pets"

By Dr. Marcia Martin

Calusa Veterinary Center

Here is a link to an excellent article on the dangers of flea and tick products http://www.apnm.org/publications/resources/fleachemfin.pdf.

It seems that the EPA has received numerous complaints about topical flea control products.

There is a huge difference among the active ingredients in “spot-on” flea products.

This is what you really need to know: There is a big difference between the new flea products generally sold through the veterinarian and spot-on products available at major retailers. That difference is the active ingredient.

Many over-the-counter products available at major retailers or feed stores contain organophosphate insecticides. These were the products we used 20 years ago because it was all we had.

There is a very limited margin of safety with organophosphate (permethrin, pyrethrin) products. If you fail to follow manufacturers' directions or if you accidentally apply a product made for dogs on cats, the result can be disastrous. “Back in the day" we treated many cases of organophosphate toxicity caused by these products -- not always successfully.

The bottom line is that you need to read the package. Not all products are created equal. Any product containing either permethrin or pyrethrin should be avoided at all costs. There are safer products available.

Frontline and Advantage both contain active ingredients with a wider margin of safety. The primary complaint I hear after application of these products is local irritation and itching at the site of application. Occasionally, I see transient hyperactivity associated with these products. I have yet to see death associated with these products.

That said, as a pet guardian you should work on environmental control and not put chemicals directly on your pet.

Approximately 75% of the flea burden exists in the environment and not on the pet. So, controlling fleas in the environment is more important that treating them on the pet.

The other thing that needs to be discussed is that healthy pets don't attract fleas!

If you are actively engaged in a program of holistic health for your pet, you will notice a drop in the flea population naturally over time. How great is that?!

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