POISON MY BEST FRIEND? I DON'T THINK SO!
Diane Bromenschenkel applied a flea-and-tick product to her English
pointer, Wings, so the dog wouldn't get ticks while hunting pheasant in
the tall grasslands of western Idaho. Wings, a healthy five-year-old
with a sleek white coat and a chocolate brown mask, enjoyed long walks
in the woods, bacon treats, and burying things in the yard. But three
months after the pesticide was applied, the animal was dead.
It was just hours following the use of the product that Bromenschenkel
knew something was wrong. She noticed her dog walking around in a daze.
Wings was unresponsive. On the advice of her veterinarian,
Bromenschenkel tried to wash off the treatment Bio Spot Spot On
Flea and Tick Control for Dogs -- but the next day Wings was still
The dog stopped eating and drinking despite the application of appetite
increasers, said Patricia Pence, the veterinarian and owner of South
Wind Veterinary Hospital in Nampa, Idaho, where Wings was treated. "The
anorexia is a direct result of the Bio Spot," Pence said. She believes
the insecticide in Bio Spot damaged the portion of Wings' brain
responsible for hunger and thirst. So she inserted a feeding tube into
the dog's neck and for the next three months Bromenschenkel and Wings
were in and out of the veterinary hospital.
During this period, Bromenschenkel woke up every two hours at night to
give Wings an injection of liquid nutrient through the neck. She spent
thousands of dollars on vet bills. Despite the best efforts of
Bromenschenkel and Pence, however, the damage was done. In September,
Wings' kidneys failed and Bromenschenkel made the difficult decision to
put her dog to sleep. In days Wings had gone from a healthy dog, running
alongside horses in the Owyhee Mountains, to an emaciated wreck, chasing
phantom birds in the kitchen. "What's so terrible about it is that if
you had known, you would never have used it," said Bromenschenkel of the
The Debate Over Pyrethroids
Wings died three months after being treated with Bio Spot flea and tick
drops; her vet thinks the product damaged the part of Wings' brain
responsible for hunger and thirst. Credit: Diane Bromenschenkel. Bio
Spot contains a 45 percent solution of the active ingredient permethrin,
a synthetic neurotoxin belonging to the pyrethroid family of chemicals.
Bio Spot is one of several over-the-counter spot on (meaning squeezed on
to a particular spot) anti-flea-and-tick products that consumers apply
to cats and dogs between the shoulder blades and sometimes at the base
of the tail. The animal's natural oils spread the insecticide over its
body, making its skin and fur inhospitable to parasites. These
pyrethroid-based flea and tick treatments -- from Hartz, Sergeant's,
Farnam, and Bayer -- are approved for sale by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), and they are readily available at grocery
stores, specialty pet retailers, and hardware stores. But they are also
linked to thousands of reported pet poisonings, and they have stirred
the ire of pet owners, the concern of veterinarians, and the attention
of regulatory agencies.
Manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter spot on treatments
say the products are generally safe and effective when used properly,
but they concede there are cats and dogs that either have a preexisting
condition or an acute sensitivity to these treatments that leads to an
The industry position, however, may dismiss safety concerns too
casually. At least 1,600 pet deaths related to Spot On treatments with
pyrethroids were reported to the EPA over the last five years, according
to an analysis of EPA pesticide incident exposure data by the Center for
Public Integrity. That is about double the number of reported fatalities
tied to similar treatments without pyrethroids, such as Frontline and
Advantage -- although these products also have critics.
Pyrethroid Spot Ons also account for more than half of "major" pesticide
pet reactions reported to EPA over the last five years -- that is, those
incidents involving serious medical reactions such as brain damage,
heart attacks, and violent seizures. In contrast, non-pyrethroid spot on
treatments accounted for only about 6 percent of all major incidents.
In the last five years, the EPA received a total of more than 25,000
reports of pet pesticide reactions of every sort -- fatal, major,
moderate, and minor -- to over-the-counter pyrethroid spot on products.
This compares to 10,500 reports of all pet incidents related to
shampoos, powders, sprays, collars, dips, mousses, lotions, and towels.
This analysis does not take into account how much of each product was
used over the last five years as the EPA does not have that information.
The EPA cautions that it does not confirm the authenticity of these
reports and most of the claims come from consumers and not trained
toxicologists. The EPA uses the database to observe broad trends and to
identify significant spikes in incidents for specific products and
Why don't they test RABIES SHOTS? My friend the Vegan was forced by city
to vaccinate, both dogs got huge cancers at the injection site and died of it.
AND WHY MISS THE FUN OF THE BATH?
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