Friday, August 12, 2011

PSA - Flea products

When I used to work at the vet's office (as a receptionist) I saw a few cases of toxic reactions to flea products.  Watching these kitty suffer is not pretty, and it was one of the worst things I had to deal with knowing it should not have happened.  I am constantly telling people to NEVER buy flea products over the counter.  I'm even leery of Frontline and Advantage being sold over the counter, because until recently the makers of the products wouldn't allow it, so I had to wonder how that product got there, and because of known cases of counterfeit products it scared me. 

Today on Twitter I saw this video.. it made me think, it made me tear up.  It reminded me that not everyone knows of the dangers of flea products.  They are touted as safe and the side effects are rarely talked about (even with the very safe Frontline and Advantage, there is the risk of a cat having a reaction)

So adding to my crusade to talk about and get people thinking about cat food/nutrition and vaccines, lets just throw in flea products..

The more you know...

I just found another blog talking about the same thing, but she has more videos..

So what makes you get on your soapbox?


  1. Aaaaerrrrggghhhhh! I can't stand it when people misstate Physical law! There are stationary waves in all of Physics and they have nothing to do with the metaphorical wave phenomenon the TT videographer is trying to get going.

    Also, they state the number of animals harmed and increases in rates of problems, but never state that in the percentage of animals which have used the products. If 0.1% of animals are harmed, that's pretty low. If that increases to 0.2% the next year, it's a 100% increase OMG! But the risk is still low.

    Because we don't know the percentage of animals harmed, we can't accurately assess the risk.

    I understand their pain, I have two cats of my own. At the same time, I just can't stand the abuse of Science! Nothing is perfect and if the risk of the treatment is less than the risk of not treating (Lyme disease, flea anemia, heartworm, etc.), then it's a good decision to treat.

    Are you going to respond as emotionally to a video of a cute dog suffering with heartworm? How about to a cat who can't move well because of Lyme disease? I'm not cruel, I'm just saying that it's best to consider ALL aspects of the risks involved before we decide what is best to do.

  2. I appreciate your comment.

    I shared the video because OTC flea products have always been something I tell people to stay away from and this showed up today and I have never blogged about my thoughts on the matter and not because I thought the video was perticularly spectacular (or that I even know anything about stationary waves - although now that you say that I am curious and will have to go read up on it)

    I do have to disagree with you that the "risk is low" because while we don't know the real numbers, there are a LOT of people out there with similar stories. In the few years I worked at one vet's office I saw several cases of OTC flea product toxicity.

    My point was and is that it is *OTC* products you need to be concerned with. Hartz made a flea product for years that killed thousands of pets before it was finally forced to recall the product. THOSE are the products people need to be aware of. Not that people should avoid all flea and tick products ever. I also do not agree that no one should ever vaccinate.

    It is getting the information out there about the risks that was my goal. It is very rare that people get the information that reactions could even happen. as you said "it's best to consider ALL aspects of the risks involved before we decide what is best to do." I totally agree. But when was the last time your vet told you the risks of anything he did or prescribed for your pet??

    and yes, I do react emotionally to a dog with heartworm and lyme, because I saw both of those frequently at my time working at the vet. (although I didn't think this post of mine was overly emotional - yes I teared up at the death of their cat... but I would imagine any pet owner would) And a surprising number of the lyme victims had the lyme vaccine, were protected by frontline and a tick collar. NOTHING is absolute. but why use an inferior product with a history of toxic reactions in a high number of animals? as for the risk of not treating vs the risk of what you are treating for, it is hard to quantify that when you are in the midst of an animal suffering because you chose one over the other. I know a woman who did all the "right things" bringing her kitten to the vet, getting it vaccinated on schedule, getting her neutered, and the kitten died of FIP. She wished she had known it was a possiblity. So do the pet owners I have talked to after their pets have had negative results from something they were told were supposed to help.

    I just want to spread the word, make people question (even me, heck especially me) and learn.

    Again, thank you for your comment.

  3. Thanks for your rational response, Connie. TT's mom blocked me, censored my comments and mocked me, so your response is refreshing. It was so bad, I had to get my spouse to answer her comments to me because she blocked me.

    To answer your concern, we do know the real numbers. The EPA has them. If Hartz was forced to recall the product, it was done so by the EPA because of the numbers.

    And my vet just told me about risk of using Revolution on my old cat because I asked her. And she told me about the risks of treating my other cat's hyperthyroidism a couple of weeks ago because I asked her. People do have to ask these questions of their vets if they want to know the answers.

    If your goal is to get the information out there, I'd publicize another video or website. This video has incomplete information, yet urges people to join the 'wave' to ban the products.

    Look at this way, if the video was an emotional one showing the cats' problems and urging cat owners to read the product instructions and cautions carefully before using them, I'd be all in favor of it. If the video went on to urge people to use the safer products available through their vet if at all possible, I'd be all for that, too. If the video went on to disagree with the EPA's decision about what was an acceptable level of risk, even if it was an emotional appeal, I'd still support the video maker's right to make that appeal.

    But the video isn't doing those things. It's using emotional reasoning, catchy music, dramatic visuals and incomplete statistics to urge people to ban products. Products which, although they are pesticides, do more good than harm according to the EPA.

    That's my objection, and I am very angry that I was censored, blocked and mocked for raising it.

    I, too, get emotional when my cats are sick. And then I get rational in deciding what to do about it. I think we all should do that to give our pets the best chance at health. And it absolutely sucks when something which is supposed to help harms. But all medicine is like that. No product is perfect. That's why I'm talking about risk. Everything has a risk. Driving your sick cat to the vet has a risk that it will die in an auto accident. And yet, somehow, we drive our sick cats to the vet. The benefit outweighs the risk in our minds and in reality.

    I certainly hope you don't feel heckled by my comments. My intention was to inform, not harass. I do have to add that the reason you saw a lot of animals with problems from using these products was that you were working at a vets office! What you weren't seeing was the far greater number of animals which were o.k.

    I know I'm being wordy, but finally, I just want to say the term PSA stands for Public Service Announcement and that video is not one. PSA's have complete and valid information in them.

    Thanks again for your measured response. Care to make a video and post it on Youtube?

  4. My videos on YouTube are all of the cute and cuddly variety:)

    I did some more reading on stationary waves, and what I read said that it is when either the wave is traveling on a stationary object (on a wire or string) or when two waves intersect and displace one another. In either case the energy of the wave is moving. If you have a better definition that shows the energy of the wave isn't moving I'd love to read it.

    And my post was a PSA. The video was just the seed of the thought of the post, and I thought it unfair to not share it since it was what got me thinking originally. if something gets you to thinking, to me it is doing service. It got you thinking and reacting didn't it? I watch PSA's on my local tv station all the time, and they are always sound bites to get you thinking about something, they are never long and in depth conversations about both sides of a topic.

    I don't feel heckled by someone standing up for something they believe. I believe in open honest discussion. I love to learn. I feel heckled when someone comes up and tells me something I've already done is wrong (like the vet tech who told me I was wrong for aborting the kittens of a sick pregnant cat after the fact - even though it turned out the kits were already dead)

    I don't think banning OTC flea products is a bad idea. They are ineffective at best and toxic at worse. They are generally a waste of money and putting the public, the pets, and the environment at risk. You are right, I didn't see how many people bought OTC products and didn't have a reaction, but I saw (and continue to see) the number of reactions of OTC products overwhelm the number of reactions to products sold at your local vet. As for the EPA having accurate information on the adverse reactions - I think it is sweet that you still trust the government. I know the reactions I saw were never reported. I have also seen evidence that a lot of government agencies are in the pocket of big business. Don't believe it, just do some research on Monsanto and GMO and why we can't have GMO food labeled in the US even though it is banned in Europe and many other countries. Have you heard of the studies that GMO causes birth defects? No? ever wonder why that is especially since you are eating GMO food every day (unless you eat a 100% organic diet)

    As for your having to ask your vet about the risks, I believe that is wrong too. I know when I went and had my wisdom teeth removed recently I had to sign a consent form telling me of all the risks. So many so it scared the pants off me. Vets should be required to have that discussion. The medication I take all have warnings of possible side effects on it, prescriptions that I take have pamphlets of warnings and what to look for with it, none of that comes with pet medications. Why? $$$$ and the reason the human medical profession does it is $$$ they were sued enough from people who had side effects that they now make sure to cover their tushie.

    Btw, (from your original comment) heartworm isn't prevented by any of the OTC products and isn't covered by the original post nor the video. It can't be because it can be deadly if given if the pet is already infested. A test needs to be given to assure a dog doesn't have it before it is prescribed. It's also transmitted by mosquitoes, not fleas or ticks

    Do you have other websites or videos that talk about the risks of OTC flea medications beyond the ones I sited on my original post? If you didn't notice, I linked several. If you have one you like, I will gladly share it.

  5. The physics of waves applies to electromagnetic and quantum effects as well as Newtonian ones. Your examples are all Newtonian. Electromagnetism and Quantum Physics involve a lot of high level math to properly understand. You can get a general idea from online sources: for electromagnetism, look up Maxwell's equations and for quantum theory, look up Quantum Physics esp. Schroedinger's wave functions. (Newtonian physics essentially covers what you can see, but Physics also covers what you can't see).

    As for government conspiracy theories. Try living in a country which really doesn't have effective government regulation.

    Also, GMO food is not the same as OTC flea and tick products and your statement about GMO foods doesn't follow from your argument about OTC flea and tick products.

    But no, I don't want to get into an argument over GM foods. Please stay on topic. If you don't have information to support your argument, refrain from dragging in GMO foods, UFO's, homeopathic quackery and the kitchen sink.

    It's not wrong to ask your vet about risks to your animals! It's being a good pet owner! I'm flabbergasted that you think it's wrong. Wow.

    There are warnings on the products. I suspect most people don't read them, but they are there.

    If you and TT's mom want veterinary medicine to be regulated as much as human medicine, so warnings are served to you on a plate, make that your goal. But that is not the stated goal in TT mom's video, is it?

    And no, I just don't want to do research on this topic to make up for the lack of research done by TT's mom. I was criticizing the incomplete data and false statements in the video, not volunteering to fix them!

    I'm also getting tired of arguing about this topic. The video displayed incomplete epidemilogical data to make its claims. If the data is not available, then don't draw conclusions from incomplete data.

    To accurately determine risk, you need to compare the number of animals harmed to then total number treated. You compare that percentage to the population of untreated animals affected by flea- and tick-borned diseases. And you make sure you compare percentages - that corrects for population size differences.

    You can look up Epidemiology while you are looking up Quantum Physics.

    Good luck with your 'wave'. 'Bye!


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