Keeping your Pet Safe with Spot-on Flea & Tick Control

I tried so hard for it not to happen. And many years I have been successful, but I just couldn’t keep them away this time. The fleas are popping up around around house. DRATS!

When you have a household furry friend there are many preventive measures you can take to keep the fleas away.

The EPA’s following tips may help to prevent, reduce, or eliminate flea infestations:

  • Vacuuming on a daily basis to remove eggs, larvae and adults is the best method for initial control of a flea infestation. It is important to vacuum the following areas: carpets, cushioned furniture, cracks and crevices on floors, along baseboards and the basement.
  • Steam cleaning carpets may also help as the hot steam and soap can kill fleas in all stages of the life cycle. Pay particular attention to areas where pets sleep.
  • Wash all pet bedding and family bedding on which pets lie in hot, soapy water every two to three weeks. If an infestation is severe, discard old pet bedding and replace it with fresh, clean material.
  • Flea combs are very effective tools in the suppression of adult fleas. They allow hair to pass through the tines but not the fleas, removing fleas as well as flea feces and dried blood. Focus combing on those parts of the pet where the most fleas congregate, usually the neck or tail area. When fleas are caught, deposit them in hot soapy water to kill them.
  • Consider keeping pets indoors.

The last one, riiiiggggghhhhhhttttt. Try telling my cat to stay indoors. Mr. I-Own-the-House-I-Will-Do-What-I-Want. Cody has his own Cat Door mounted in the screen (works really cool. Just watch your pet, because they start bringing their prey indoors, too. Ewww.) ;)

I do a good job keeping things clean around here. And I know when spring and summertime comes around, its vital to take a bit more precaution. But the fleas are waging the war this time and I need to stop it quick. Now its time to look into topical flea treatments, specifically spot-on products (i.e., the one that generally comes in tubes or vials and is directly applied to specific areas on the pet’s body to control fleas and ticks).

But what is the best way to safely keep your pets free of fleas when buying spot-on products?

Surely, we all have heard complaints about topical tick and flea treatments. In fact, in 2009, the EPA logged some 600 pet deaths and about 44,000 reports of harmful reactions, including skin irritation, vomiting and seizures.

So the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an advisory warning consumers who use specific types of flea and tick control products on their pets to take precautions. The advisory applied nearly 70 “spot-on” products, including Frontline and Advantage products, that contain registered-pesticides (yup, pesticides – scary stuff).

What can you do

The Natural Resources Defense Counil (NRDC) published a pocket guide to flea and tick treatments, which provides the group’s assessment of chemical used in pet pest control products along with safer alternatives.

If you do decide to use spot-on treatments, follow these safety tips when treating your pet for fleas and ticks:

  • Always read the label carefully
  • Use protective gloves when applying
  • Follow the directions exactly.
  • Monitor your pets for side effects
  • Call you veterinarian if your pet shows symptoms of illness after using a product
  • If you pet experiences a bad reaction from a spot-on treatment, immediately bathe the pet with mild soap, rinse with lots of water, and call the vet.
  • Do not apply a product to kittens or puppies.

What I did

We went to the pet store to pick out a spot-on treatment for our friendly feline(s). Sixty dollars for a 3 month supply?!?! Ouch. So we checked out the cheaper brands and compared.

Zodiac Spot On Plus: $10.99 for a 4-month supply
Contains (S)-Methoprene: 3.6%, Etofenprox 40.0%, Other ingredients 56.4%

Sergeant’s Sentry PurrScriptions: $12.99 for a 3-month supply
Contains Pyriproxyfen 2.20%, Etofenprox 55.00%, Other Ingredients 42.80%

Etofenprox was not listed on NRDC’s pocket guide (discovered after I got home). However, I thought with the chemical being in the same ‘prox’ family (as the Pyriproxyfen) I went with the first choice for three reasons, it was $2 cheaper, contained the same ingredients, and I received an extra month supply. Great deal, right? NOT!

After researching Etofenprox, I found out some disturbing information. Etofenprox is a Pyrethroid (aka permethrin). Permethrins should NOT be used on kittens or cats. I found this alarming shout out on various websites. So why do various companies, like Bio Spot, Zodiac, and Seargent’s use this pesticide in their flea products???

I discovered the answer (yes, this post is longer than intended but I had to share the info). I discovered a product performance evaluation review in regards to etofenprox and discovered it works just as well as the high priced Advantage for Cats containing imidacloprid) and FrontLine Top-Spot for cats (containing fipronil). BUT products containing permetherin (like etofenprox), while have a good range of safety on dogs, a few drops of concentrated permethrin could be lethal to a cat. The signs commonly seen with permethrin toxicity in cats include generalized tremors, muscle fasciculations, and seizures. Signs can develop within hours or may be delayed up to 48 hours.

What this means

Companies can produce a cheaper product proved to be just as effective as the top brands despite the fact its harmful to cats (but they don’t have to tell you that).

Conclusion

Shame on these companies developing such unsafe products!
Cat Owners: stay away from products containing etofenprox!
While I didn’t price out the products for dogs, if they contain etofenprox your animal is safe under directed guidelines.
Research proved to a valuable lesson.
And in this case, quality is much better over quantity.
I am returning my Cheap-O product and coughing up the $60 for Frontline Top-Spot for Cats.

Another Option: Anyone have some green friendly pet practices they use for keeping the fleas away (like using flea treats) or a eucalyptus collar?

36 thoughts on “Keeping your Pet Safe with Spot-on Flea & Tick Control

  1. Pingback: Frontline Plus - The Dog Lounge is Protected Wondercide BioDefense

  2. Little House

    When I first got my cats years ago as kittens, they were covered in fleas. After a foam bath (they were too little for soap and water), a flea comb, and a follow up with Advantage drops, they were flea free. Because they’ve remained indoor cats, I don’t worry very much about fleas, thankfully. Thanks for sharing the information about the cheaper spot-on flea treatment, if I need to use it in the future, I’ll splurge for Advantage!

    Reply
    1. Money Funk

      Ya, I was totally surprised to find that ingredient potentially lethal to cats! I returned it and bough Frontline.
      I suppose it could eventually turn out to be a ‘scandal’ like the one with the pet food.

      Reply
    2. Money Funk

      Ya, I was totally surprised to find that ingredient potentially lethal to cats! I returned it and bought Frontline.
      I suppose it could eventually turn out to be a ‘scandal’ like the one with the pet food.

      Reply
    1. Money Funk

      Definitely not their fleas. LOL. Ya, they can get dang expensive. That is why I am in the process of giving away my fish and aquarium. Takes too much time to maintain and expensive with all the food, etc..

      Reply
  3. Jenna

    We used to use a topical flea medication on our dog, when it flea season. We live in a cooler place in the US and thus don’t have fleas 1/2 the time (and thus save money). However, for the past couple of years we have be using a flea and heartworm pill that is given once a month, spacing on the name of the brand now. But it works great and we’ve never had a problem.

    Reply
    1. Money Funk

      Very cool. I heard FleaTreats.com works great. But I can’t see giving it to my cats twice a day, unless they eat it up like a treat (the pills are kind of big for a cat). Although its a more natural method, I may just try it.

      Reply
      1. Jenna

        Anytime you have to give pets meds more than once a day would be a hassle! We have to give our retired service dog meds every other day and she handles it gracefully but it is still a pain in the butt!

        Reply
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  9. Squirrelers

    Wow that’s too bad that products can be out there for pets that can be dangerous to that level. Unknowing consumers may be making some harmful purchases. I don’t have pets anymore, but that’s still a bit alarming. Think about it – there would be outrage if lethal products were given to people.

    It’s interesting what you can find when you do a little research. I found an ingredient, phosphoric acid, in some “healthy” mouthwash products. My dentist was talking about a certain product, and I told her that this ingredient was in it. She looked right at a sample in her office, and was very surprised to see that I was right. As a health professional, she was fooled. Just goes to show, keep your eyes open for yourself!

    Reply
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  12. Moon Hussain

    “Companies can produce a cheaper product proved to be just as effective as the top brands despite the fact its harmful to cats” That just makes me sad. I have been using FrontLine whenever I need to. Thankfully I have indoor cats, but still, have had flea problems the last two years (even though the apartment stays mostly clean…… dormant eggs in carpet? Ewww).

    Thanks for the info!

    Reply
  13. CharlieK

    I lived in the deep woods and a very good flea control method is 7 Dust which is a white powder that you rub into your pets fur. Works really well. You can also sprinkle it around the yard and that helps keep fleas away from your yard area.
    CharlieK

    Reply
    1. Spicy

      7Dust: I would presume this is the same thing as Sevin Dust. This is a pesticide; I can’t imagine it would be safe for your pet. You are probably poisoning your loving pet! Have you asked a vet about doing this? I cannot imagine it is safe to apply this product on a pet. I hope other readers will ask their vet before doing this. Or check out the main ingredient in Sevin and research the main ingredient to see if it is safe for application on pets. As for myself, I am trying to find out if it is safe to use Etofenprox on my cats; I would NEVER apply something I spray or dust on my tomato plants and other garden items onto my loving pets~ sounds unbelievable to me!

      Reply
      1. Money Funk Post author

        Spicy, thanks for visiting. Please do not use Etofenprox on your cats. There is a great link I’ve included in the post showing a disturbing case study about the use of Etofenprox. Please use Frontline or Advantage which uses a different kind of compound that is presumed safer for your pets (my cat has not showed any harming effects from Frontline)

        Reply
        1. Spicy

          Hello Money Funk,
          Thank you for your reply to my post. After researching tonight for hours, I did not use the Etofenprox~ it was Sergeant’s ‘Silver’ Squeeze-On. At the time I bought this, I bought Sergeant’s Flea & Tick Squeeze-On for dogs, which is Permethrin 45% & S-Methoprene 1.2%. The S-Methropene is no problem, and originally, my research lead me to believe the Permethrin was okay. But continued research seemed to indicate that I should not use it either; thus, I will return both of them to the store tomorrow for a return of my money. Did you find out what Australian website to buy from for lower prices on brand names? If so, I would really appreciate your passing it on to me. Thanx much. Spicy.
          P.S. Also, I am going to see what I can find out about the alternative treatment called diatomaceous earth.

          Reply
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  15. James

    just like in life for us our pets also have unexpected expenses. this is an example of having the discretionary income to cover the cost of your pets health. $60 can buy me groceries for an entire week or it could keep your cat healthy and happy :)

    Reply
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  17. Len Penzo

    Once established, fleas are really tough to eliminate. Thankfully, our poochie is a very pampered indoor dog, so he never has a problem with them. Before we go on extended vacations we do give him a single 30-day application of Advantage ahead of putting him in the kennel (oops, I mean the Doggie Pet Resort!) I think our dog has only had three doses over the past seven years, which is good.

    Hey… Upon further reflection, I don’t think I’m taking enough vacations. ;-)

    Best,

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com

    Reply
    1. Money Funk

      I have the same reflection about my own life. LOL.

      That’s great have not had to medicate the dog more than necessary. I hate putting ‘pesticides’ on my pets. The two just really don’t go together!

      Reply
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  19. Jennifer Barry

    I did know about the potential dangerous flea control products, but it’s good you are spreading the word! One of my cats has a flea allergy so we have to be very vigilant with the Frontline and vacuuming. I save money by ordering online from Australia as the US dollar is stronger. I think I got 12 months for about $60 last time.

    Reply
    1. Money Funk

      I never thought about ordering overseas (I know my girlfriends do for their birthcontrol). I’d imagine the shipping to be minimal since the packages are pretty light weight. I may just give that a try because we have 2 cats. That could save a lot of money, as that is an awesome price! Thank you for the tip, Jennifer!

      Reply
    2. Spicy

      Would you be so kind as to write me an e-mail and refer me to the website you use so I could buy my products from them? Thank you in advance.

      Reply
    3. Spicy

      Would you be so kind as to write me an e-mail and refer me to the website you use so I could buy my products from them? I have heard not so good things from the famous and well-known site that most are buying their products from, for instance that they buy rejected products from the brand name companies and therefore the product might be too weak and not work; thus, I have never used them. But I will really appreciate if you send me the site you buy from. Thank you in advance

      Reply
  20. annie guns

    DO NOT USE SEARGENTS GOLD FLEA PRODUCTS FOR CATS OF DOGS. MY 20 POUND CAT AMOST DIED WHEN I USED THE SQUEEZE ON GEL. HE HAD SEIZURES AND A FEVER OF lO4. THE VERT BILL WAS 800 DOLLARS. BEWARE OF Etofenprox, ITS TOXIC.

    Reply

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