Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To spot on, or not?

There has been several discussions in the past year or so on the efficacy and associated risks with several "Spot on" Tick and Flea treatments.  We have reviewed several sources and articles and have decided that we wished to add to our puppy buyer contracts a clause related to this topic.  I'll include the clause later - first I'd like to take a moment and explain our thoughts on the subject.

We attempt to stay fairly balanced in our views of changes in what I would consider "normal procedures".   For most of us, the advent of "spot on" tick and flea treatments was almost nothing short of miraculous.  It worked fantastically well, is easy to apply and in no time at all - fleas were a thing of the past.  In that regard, I will attest - I loved the product.  Luckily, we haven't had a flea problem in over ten years and have not had a need to use it here.

Of late, there has been an alarming rate of increase in reported cases of problems to the EPA of adverse side effects.  Incidents reported by consumers who used the products on their pets rose from 28,895 in 2007 to 44,263 in 2008, an increase of 53 percent in one year.

"The products, including the popular Frontline and Advantage brands, are small vials of liquid pesticides that pet owners apply monthly to the backs of dogs or cats to kill fleas and ticks. The EPA began investigating the products after a sharp rise in the number of pets reported to be sick after they were treated.
The yearlong investigation, conducted by a team of veterinarians assembled by the federal agency, concluded that certain pets – small dogs between 10 and 20 pounds – are most susceptible to the problems, which include rashes, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures.
EPA Assistant Administrator Steve Owens said Wednesday that no products are being banned at this point, but "we’re going to be watching the situation very closely."
Many pet owners who use the treatments think they are applying medication to their pet, but they actually are treating them with potent pesticides, including permethrin, which also is used to kill pests on crops and yards.
"These are poisons that we are applying to our pets," said Owens, who said it is a personal as well as a professional issue for him because he owns two dogs and three cats. "Pet owners should exercise caution."


So how do we keep a conservative balance and try to ensure pups from us get the best care.  We decided that since it appears the bulk of the cases are small dogs, that it would at least be responsibly prudent to provide this information and put into our contract that we do not wish the pups to have "spot on" treatments until 6 months of age.  We feel this is reasonable.  It allows the pups to gain some maturity in their immune systems and size beyond what appears to be where the bulk of the problems with Spot on treatments lie.  We still believe this is a good idea despite some Veterinarian's opinion that it is "an absurd argument" and  the thought that applying poison to puppies is perfectly acceptable as reactions are "extremely rare".  I personally don't find 120 reported cases per day 365 days a year all that rare.

This same vet goes on in his diatribe  "Would these owners sit outside on a warm summer night without mosquito repellant allowing the bugs to feed at will and spend the next week scratching their bitten skin? Of course not. Yet these same people want to allow their dogs to be bitten by fleas?"

Seriously?  Because we choose not to put poison on our puppy that automatically means we WANT to ALLOW our dogs to be bitten by fleas?  I'm not even going to respond to that idiocy.

I'll lay odds the same vet thinks there's no downside to de-sexing pups at four months too, but that's a different blog topic.

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