There are many commercial products available to prevent, control, and kill fleas, but the majority of these products contain unsafe, harmful ingredients. Many of the products sold in grocery, drug and pet supply stores, even when applied as instructed on the box, can cause serious health consequences to pets and humans. |
Many owners prefer to use natural remedies to control fleas and there are many such options which claim to be effective. Unfortunately, most of them simply do not work. Feeding animals garlic, brewer's yeast or Vitamin-B have all been shown to be ineffective in controlling fleas. The same goes for pennyroyal, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea leaves, bayberry and citronella. Indeed, many of these don't even repel, let alone kill fleas1,2. However pyrethrins, which are derived from chrysanthemum flowers and do have some activity, are found in many shampoo
There are many effective environmental treatments, such as flea bombs and sprays. However, many are also fairly toxic, and pets and owners should leave the house while they are being used. Juvenile stage treatments are the exceptions, as they are very safe to humans. Always read and obey the instructions on the label of these products to ensure effectiveness and safety. Products containing boric acid can also be used on carpets to kill larvae.
All indoor environmental products should be applied following a thorough vacuuming. Outdoor treatments should be combined with trimming back grass and plants to expose the larvae to as much sunlight as possible. Concentrate on areas where your pet sleeps and rests for maximum effectiveness.
The EPA did ban six types of organophosphates from the pet products market because they were found to be extremely harmful to pets and children. The banned substances are: chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, phosmet, naled, diazinon, and malathion. One organophosphate has not yet been banned: tetrachlorvinphos or TCVP. Be certain you avoid pet products with any of these ingredients. Carbamates, another dangerous class of chemicals, should also be avoided.
The NRDC offers the following advice:
Products with the following chemicals should be avoided:
Amitraz, fenoxycarb, propoxur, and tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP)
Products with the following chemicals should be used sparingly:
Fipronil, imidacloprid, metaflumizone, pyrethrins, selamectin
Products with the following chemicals are considered generally safer:
Lufenuron, nitenpyram, pyriproxyfen, s-methoprene, spinosad
Note that cats are particularly sensitive to the adverse effects of pyrethrins and pyrethroids. If products with these ingredients are used on dogs with cats in the home, cats can still be exposed to toxicity.
Just because these products are on store shelves does not mean they are safe." If you are planning to use ANY flea control product, it is advisable to read the label not just for warnings, but for a list of ingredients.
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