Banned: Flea collars are pulled of the shelves in France, citing danger to pets and children

Nearly 60 brands of flea collars for cats and dogs have been withdrawn from sale in France over fears they pose a danger to humans, particularly children.

The Agence Nationale du Médicament Vétérinaire watchdog withdrew the permit for sale for the the collars as they contain organophosphates, toxic insecticides known to harm the human nervous system. Humans in close contact with animals wearing such collars could be affected. 

After examining the data surrounding organophosphates the French decided it was not safe for pets or for the people close to them, especially for young children that sleep with their pets.

Organophospates were originally developed as nerve gas in World War II but were adapted to target insect pests. They are absorbed through the skin, especially through prolonged contact.

Agency director Jean-Pierre Orand told Sciences et Avenir magazine: “We looked at several criteria and noted people’s change in behavior towards their pets, marked by increasingly close and shared contact especially the fact many children sleep with their cat or dog.”

Some countries work around such dangers by recommending that people avoid extended contact with the pet, but hey, this is France and in France they love their pets.

As Jean-Pierre Orand said,  “we thought this was not compatible with people’s way of life” and preferred to impose a ban.

ANMV withdrew products containing the chemicals Dimpylate (or Diazinon), Propoxur and Tétrachlorvinphos and a list is available on the website for Sciences et Avenir

It is important to note that the very same chemicals now banned in France are still widely available in flea collar and other flea treatment products in the U.S.

Poisoned Pets recommends avoiding all such products and to consider healthier, alternative treatments for fleas. Be careful of alternative treatments as well, many natural remedies are toxic to cats, essential oils for example. Remember, a healthy pet with a good diet is much less vulnerable to parasites, illness and disease.

Besides, who wants to sleep with nerve gas anyway.

SOURCE: Sciences et Avenir, April, 18, 2012

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (7) Write a comment

  1. I am in complete agreement that we need to ban the use of all topical flea treatments for pets. They are so easy to overdose on (if an overdose can kill your pet in a few hours, what do you think we are doing to them when we applying it in smaller doses once a month for their whole lifetime?). They are also known to cause cancer in rats.

    I have personal experience that leads me to believe they are overly potent for their intended purpose.

    I happen to have some unusual “pets” — I am a tarantula hobbyist in addition to a cat owner and dog lover. I found out the hard way that you can’t wash this stuff off your hands. Keep in mind I do not handle my tarantulas, and I always change out of my work clothes (I work at a pet boarding facility) and wash my hands before doing any enclosure maintenance. Well, somehow I still managed to contaminate 2 of my spiders with the crap. It only took them 24 hours to have visible central nervous system damage. They stopped being able to move correctly and flipped over onto their backs or spun in twitchy circles when disturbed. Shortly thereafter they died.

    I know you may be thinking that it doesn’t apply to you because you don’t own tarantulas. But my point is that it was able to stay on my skin through all my precautions in large enough amounts to have that affect on a much larger invertebrate than it was intended to kill. It goes to show that these topical treatments are WAY overkill and not at all worth the danger to you or your pets.

    Reply

    • That is terrifying – that a trace amount of residue could cause their death.

      If you don’t handle them how do you think they got exposed? What kind of maintenance did you perform?

      Sounds like a fascinating hobby.

      I once rescued a black widow spider and her nest egg, and fed her live flies for a while before I released her back into the wild.

      Yeah, I know I’m nuts.

      Then there was the time I rescued a rattlesnake caught in bird netting with a pair of cuticle scissors – but that’s another story…

      Reply

  2. Pingback: Penny’s Finds #7 « Broken Hartz

  3. Also pets, cats for sure, love brewer’s yeast, and it is a natural flea repellent, so I’ve been told. Regardless, it’s got lots of nutrition in it, B vitamins. We can hardly keep it in the pantry as it goes so fast. You can get in bulk at the health food store. The large flake variety is best Mollie says.

    Reply

    • Thanks Mom! I wanted to mention the brewers yeast, but…there is no scientific study showing it’s efficacy.

      But that’s not to say that it wouldn’t certainly improve their health, which is always a good thing. The best thing (besides keeping your furkids in tip-top health) is to clean your house like a maniac. Vacuum, vacuum and vacuum some more! Every day for a while. And wash their bedding and your own in the hottest water possible and dry them in hot dryer often.

      Fleas love dark crevices, so turn your house inside out, vacuum all the furniture paying special attention to the cracks and crevices and under the cushions.

      And only use vinegar and water to clean your floors.

      And if you have carpets — furgetaboutit! Pull them up, because there is no way in Hell, aside from bombing your house with nerve gas, to get rid of them and all their eggs down in the carpets.

      Maybe they have carpet steamers that only use boiling hot steam (no chemicals) that will fry the buggers, I don’t know.

      Oh, and flea comb them constantly and dunk the comb in a glass of water with a drop of shampoo in it to break the water tension.

      And if they don’t mind, give them a nice warm bath, but be sure to do the final rinse with a smidge of apple cider vinegar in the water to get rid of any residue of shampoo left over.

      Watch out for those hippy remedies too, like citronella oil and any essential oil for that matter. Essential oils are NEVER to be used directly on an animal, ever. And stay away from those “herbal” collars, with God-knows-what in it.

      Reply

  4. Thanks for a great article. I am adamantly opposed to any chemical treatments for fleas (or otherwise) because of these dangers. It isn’t only in flea collars, but danger also lies in applied drops. Read the packages where instructions include a warning not to get the chemicals on YOUR skin. Yikes! The truth is that fleas really don’t bother an animal with a healthy immune system. The best flea treatment is having a healthy pet.

    Reply

    • Couldn’t agree with you more Rosemary.

      Yes, the OTC drops are deadly and I’m not too keen on the Rx brands either. Wouldn’t touch ’em with a ten foot pole. And I would avoid all those horrid flea shampoos and dips as well! Because, if the fleas don’t kill them, the chemicals most certainly will do the trick (OK, I’m exaggerating).

      If you must shampoo your cat or dog please do not use those crap pet shampoos or crap human shampoos, they are also loaded with nasty chemicals.

      Only buy brands that have been vetted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) http://www.ewg.orh/skindeep/; their “Coming Clean” campaign was brilliant.

      Personally, my favorite brands are Dr. Hauschka and Weleda for me and my cats! I’ve never found a better product than Dr. Hauschka. Weleda doesn’t even come close. But it still is a good (and far less expensive!) second. And, no, I don’t moisturize my cats.

      It’s true about a healthy immune system, not just for our furry-four-legged-friends and family members, but for ourselves as well. I rarely if ever have a flea problem. tee hee.

      Reply

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