Killer collars and toxic topical flea treatments, poison pets and people

I don’t think the manufacturers of toxic flea treatments could have predicted how the phrase, ‘to kill two birds with one stone’, would have such relevance to their products.

Collect manufacturers with an obsession for profit, greedy, irresponsible retailers, lazy government officials and the arcane regulation of chemicals and you have a surefire recipe for disaster. Like drunks behind the wheel of a car ignoring every sign along the way, they careen down a perilous road,  despite tragedy after tragedy. Like Scarlett O’Hara, they exclaim, ‘I won’t think about that today,  I’ll think about that tomorrow…after all tomorrow is another day!’

But the real tragedy lies with the naive assumption that manufacturers are telling consumers the truth. Consumers have been sold a bill of goods, they believe what the package says, they trust the manufacturer to never sell anything that would cause them, their children and their beloved pets, irreparable harm. Negative buying habits aren’t born, they’re created. Hypnotized by the glossy ads, the sweet pictures of frolicking happy pets, consumers have been lulled into a false sense of security.

Consumers don’t have a prayer; they are busy, exhausted, overwhelmed and an anxious bunch. If the manufacturers have an advantage, it’s when that consumer, while struggling to make a decision, is given a kind of implicit assurance, powered by millions of dollars of careful brand marketing, that a respectable company like theirs is trustworthy and honest.  Manufacturers spend staggering amounts of money on advertising and marketing annually. They call it brand awareness and acceptance, I call it bullshit.

Which brings me round to my tired, old drum and worn-out soap box: please, for Pete’s sake, do not even consider buying those terrible over-the-counter flea topical treatments, collars, toxic shampoos and flea bombs. I implore you, consider the consequences, and ask yourself this question – is it worth it? Sure, in the short-term you saved a couple o’ lousy bucks and nuked the fleas, but now, by golly, every member of the household, including the family dog and cat, have irreversible brain damage, a myriad of scary nervous system disorders and cancer!

So, the next time you’re standing in the aisle at your local Petco or PetSmart contemplating throwing caution-to-the-wind and exclaiming, ‘C’mon, just how bad can it be?’ –  I urge please, please turn the package around and read VERY carefully the warning label. Those ingredients are designed to destroy the nervous systems of living organisms, whether it be flea, canine, feline or human. Pesticides aren’t designed to be specific, they are designed to kill.

Sure fleas and ticks are a nuisance, but you know what’s an even bigger drag? Those darn chemicals Tetrachlorvinphos and Propoxur are not only toxic to those little buggers, but to the nervous system of every living organism on the planet as well.

Among the many gruesome insecticides and pesticides used in flea treatments, Tetrachlorvinphos and Propoxur are among the most dangerous pesticides still legally on the market—not only to parasites and pets, but they also pose a risk to both the children and adults who play with their pets.

Symptoms of poisoning include a nasty smorgasbord of muscle twitching, seizures, respiratory paralysis and even death. Both chemicals are also likely to cause cancer. Young children are particularly susceptible (not to mention cats and dogs) to these pesticides’ effects because their nervous system and brain are still developing, and their ability to metabolize these chemicals is weaker than that of adults. In addition, kids often put their hands in their mouths after petting an animal, and to pets because they groom themselves and so are more likely to ingest the hazardous residues.

Despite the risk of selling neurotoxic and carcinogenic products, when retailers, including Petco and PetSmart, were made aware of these dangers, they didn’t do a darn thing about it and in fact left these hazardous products on store shelves.

Trust me on this one, the few lousy bucks you’ll save will never compensate for the damage those products will inevitably cause. So, read the package, do some research and you will see that the only people who truly benefit from flea treatments are the manufacturers and retailers who are laughing all the way to the bank.

If you think a pesticide made your pet sick, call NPIC at (800) 858-7378 to report the incident. For emergencies, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centerat (888) 426-4435.

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Mollie Morrissette

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

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