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(ADDED 2 May 08: Keeping your pets flea-free AND safe)
Anyone who has furries at home should know about tick and flea control products . They are chemical-based and can be dangerous if not used properly.
However, I have been thinking A LOT about posting a warning about the brand Hartz after spotting it in the biggest pet shop in Holland Village. I shall not name it and give it free publicity as it is a pet-selling chain.
So what’s the problem with Hartz that warrant this special cautionary post? The main problem is in it’s primary/active ingredient – it is a dangerous chemical. If it were up to me, I would boycott all Hartz products, not just its tick and flea control products. I would of course, not buy from the animal-selling pet shop chain that carries it.
Hartz has a history, a very unsavoury one in the United States. I’ve been aware of an online campaign by enraged dog and cat owners who end up with dead furries or furries with permanent mental or physical damage from using Hartz products, not to mention the emotional and financial stress.
A class action suit was also filed.
The most comprehensive site is hartzvictims.org
Here’s a photo of a Hartz victim, who survived his ordeal, on hartzvictims.org:
Click here to see more photos of TJ’s reaction to a Hartz flea collar.
How is Hartz different from other flea and tick control products?
The most disturbing thing about Hartz is that its products are regulated by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) because of the ingredients it uses. Brands that don’t use the highly toxic chemicals that Hartz employ areregulated via the Food and Drugs Agency (FDA).
The ingredients to be wary of are organophosphate insecticides (OPs) and carbamates, both of which are found in various flea and tick products. A product contains an OP if the ingredient list contains chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, phosmet, naled, tetrachlorvinphos, diazinon, or malathion. If the ingredient list includes carbaryl or propoxur, the product contains a carbamate. According to the NRDC, the potential dangers posed by these products are greatest for children and pets. There is reason to be concerned about long-term, cumulative exposures as well as combined exposures from the use of other products containing OPs and carbamates.
The NRDC’s report lists flea- and tick-control products marketed under the following major brand names that have been found to contain OPs: Alco, Americare, Beaphar, Double Duty, Ford’s Freedom Five, Happy Jack, Hartz, Hopkins, Kill-Ko, Protection, Rabon, Riverdale, Sergeant’s, Unicorn, Vet-Kem, Victory, and Zema. To protect their pets and children, consumers should consult with a veterinarian before purchasing over-the-counter (OTC) products.
Here’s a media report about the dangers of Hartz (emphasis mine):
Product Remains On Sale As EPA Reevaluates Its Safety
POSTED: 5:27 p.m. EST October 31, 2002
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Environmental Protection Agency is now investigating a product called Hartz Advanced Flea and Ticks Drops.
A previous version of this story erroniously reported on an EPA internal memo. The EPA has not recommended that Hartz Flea and Tick Drops For Cats 10 Pounds and Under be removed from sale. The EPA is only investigating the safety of the product, and says that the product complies with and is labeled to comply with all applicable federal and state regulations.
Although it’s sold in many grocery stores, some cat owners say the product causes loss of appetite, and possibly forces the animal into debilitating seizures.
A veterinarian told Channel 4 that the product should never have been allowed on the market.
A cat name Kirby is unable to walk and can hardly stand. Her vet said she twitches from a seizure caused by toxic poisoning.
They’re the same symptoms afflicting Lady — a 2-year-old Burmese. Morgan says Lady was perfectly healthy until he says he applied Hartz Advanced Flea and Tick drops for cats 10 pounds and under on Lady’s back.
He says within hours his cat was nearly dead.
“She was practically in a comatose state,” owner Chris Morgan said. “She had no energy, no enthusiasm. She wouldn’t walk, she wouldn’t eat.”
“This is a condition we see in many, many cats that have had over-the-counter topical flea preparations applied to them,” Andrew Lawless told Channel 4 investigator Jennifer Waugh.
Lawless says blood tests reveal Lady’s liver shows signs of toxicity — the same problem Kirby’s vet says caused this cat to have a seizure.
Both vets say this can be caused by an insecticide — called Phenothrin. Phenothrin is the primary ingredient — 85 percent — of Hartz Advanced Flea and Tick Drops for Cats.
The drops are sold in most grocery stores to pet owners looking for a less expensive solution to flea control.
Kirby and Lady’s owners both told Channel 4 they bought and used the product on their pets.
Links For More Information
http://www.faruqilaw.com/ http://www.vetcentric.com/ www.furr-angels.com www.moggies.co.uk www.pandecats.com petlovers101.com
The Eyewitness News investigators called 30 local veterinarians, learning that 19 them — more than 60 percent — reported seeing seen cases where cats have either died or become very sick after being treated with Hartz Advanced Flea and Tick Drops for Cats.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it approved Hartz Advanced Flea and Tick Drops for sale in stores nearly two years ago.
Morgan said that Hartz asked for asked him for more information about Lady, then said that there is no proof that its drops made Lady sick. And they are right.
Lady’s vet says it is possible that Lady had some type of pre-existing condition that no one knew about. But he also said Lady only became sick after she was treated with the drops.
An attorney representing one woman who says these drops also made her cats sick is seeking to file a class action lawsuit on her behalf.
So far, he says more than 350 pet owners have joined the suit.
While an internal EPA memo recommending that the product be reevaluated for its safety was written months ago, the product is still on grocery shelves.
Hartz told Channel 4 they stand behind their product. Its company vice prsident told Jennifer Waugh that they believe their product is sound.
“I think the key here, Jennifer, is that the information you are citing is preliminary. It is an interim report,” Dr. Albert Ahn of Hartz Mountain said. ” Based on the information we have and based on a review of all the data that we have, we stand firmly behind these products.”
Copyright 2003 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
No doubt, as the interviewed vets have said, “This is a condition we see in many, many cats that have had over-the-counter topical flea preparations applied to them,”. However, the strong outcry specifically focused on Hartz is no fluke. Please do take care and be very alert when you apply these products.
Reducing the Risks
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.
Watch out for these signs (emphasis mine):
The signs commonly seen with permethrin toxicity in cats include generalized tremors, muscle fasciculation and seizures. Signs can develop within hours or may be delayed up to 48 hours.
Most cats have a good chance of recovering with prompt and aggressive veterinary treatment, including medication to control tremors and seizures, IV fluids, bathing and other supportive care. To avoid potential problems, before purchasing any flea product for their pet and/or home owners should consult with their pet’s regular veterinarian, and should always read the label instructions completely before using any product on their pets.
Hartz tick and flea control products are DANGEROUS. That it is available for sale in Singapore says ony thing: even though Singapore has stringent checks and controls, it does not mean that the things on sale are safe for use. Do please be careful with who and what you give your money to.
ADDED 2 May 08: Keeping your pets flea-free AND safe
- Hartz Tick and Flea Products – Dangerous for Pets petition
- US Environment Protection Agency: Hartz Flea and Tick Drops for Cats and Kittens to be Cancelled
- US Food and Drug Agency: WARNING LETTER
- What You Should Know About Flea and Tick Products by the Humane Society of the United States (additional ref: NRDC’s Poisons on Pets: Health Hazards from Flea and Tick Products report)
- Don’t Use Sparky’s Flea Drops on Fluffy by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
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