The HSUS recommends the following precautions be taken to reduce the risks to pets and humans during the flea season:
- Use alternatives to pesticides to control fleas and ticks: Comb your pet regularly with a flea comb, vacuum frequently and dispose of the bags immediately after use, mow areas of the lawn where your dog spends time, wash pet bedding weekly, and wash your pet with a pesticide-free pet shampoo. In addition, to protect cats from fleas and ticks, as well as a host of other outdoor hazards, cats should be kept indoors at all times.
- Always consult a veterinarian before buying or using any flea or tick control product on your pet.
- Never use flea and tick products designed for dogs on your cat, or vice versa.
- Remember never to apply pesticides to very young, elderly, pregnant, or sick animals unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.
- Always read the ingredients, instructions, and warnings on the package thoroughly.
- Avoid OP-based products by looking for any of these active ingredients: chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, phosmet, naled, tetrachlorvinphos, diazinon and malathion. Avoid products with carbamates by looking for the chemical names carbaryl and propoxur on the label.
- Consider using a product with insect-growth regulators (IGRs), which are not pesticides. These will prevent the next generation of fleas but will not kill insects already on your pet. Common and effective IGR products include those made with lufenuron (found in Program� and Sentinel� and available by prescription), methoprene (in Precor�), and pyriproxyfen (in Nylar� and EcoKyl�).
- You might want to consider several relatively new topical products, available through veterinarians, that are insecticides designed to have fewer toxic effects on the nervous systems of mammals: imidacloprid (found in Advantage�), fipronil (in Frontline� or Top Spot�), and selamectin (in Revolution�).
If you suspect your pet may have suffered negative health effects as a result of a flea product containing OPs or carbamates, consult with your veterinarian immediately. If you think a child has ingested a pesticide, call your local poison control center. Be sure to report all such incidents to the EPA's National Pesticide Telecommunications Network at 800-858-7378.
The HSUS would also like to keep track of these cases.* Please send your contact information, the product name, a brief description of the health problem, and a brief summary of your veterinarian's findings to The HSUS at the following address:
The Humane Society of the United States
Companion Animals Department: Flea Products
2100 L St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20037
*The HSUS will not be able to respond to you personally, but will keep this information on file.