There are many commercial products available to prevent, control, and kill fleas, but the majority of these products contain unsafe, harmful ingredients. In fact, most commercially available pesticides contain toxic chemicals. Often these ingredients are toxic to the very animals they are supposed to protect – and can even do harm to you and your family.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): “Many Americans believe that commercially available pesticides, such as those found in pet products, are tightly regulated by the government. In fact, they are not. 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. Just because these products are on store shelves does not mean they are safe.”
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 (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 (synthetic versions of pyrethrins). If products with these ingredients are used on dogs with cats in the home, cats can still be exposed to toxicity.
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. Refer to the NRDC’s website, http://www.greenpaws.org, for detailed information about pet products with harmful chemicals. Download the handy toxic chemicals pocket guide (PDF) here: http://www.greenpaws.org/_docs/GP_pocketguide.pdf