Posted in cats, dogs, pet health

Itching and scratching …again

There are some great websites for pet lovers on the Internet. Although I have referred to The Humane Society of the U.S. in previous columns, I haven’t looked through their entire site recently. There is plenty of material to guide us in caring for our pets, whether you’re looking for, as HSUS refers to it, “hints on finding animal-friendly rental housing, information on the importance of spaying or neutering, or advice on coping with the death of your beloved companion… [our] pet care information will help you develop and maintain a long and rewarding relationship with your animal companion.”

Henni Anker emailed me, after last week’s column on flea and tick preventive products, suggesting that I look for more information at HSUS under the topic “What you should know about flea and tick products.” The site mentions that The Center for Public Integrity released information on its website in 2008 regarding the risks of the new pesticides, which revealed that at least 1,600 pet deaths related to the so-called “spot treatments” with pyrethroids were reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the last five years.

Also the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report called “Poisons on Pets: Health Hazards from Flea and Tick Products” in 2000, demonstrating a link between chemicals commonly used in flea and tick products and “serious health problems.”

If this makes you wary about using such products at all, you owe it to your pets to take a look at The HSUS website and find out what they recommend to reduce the risks to your pets as well as you and your family, especially children in the household.

If you have already witnessed an unusual reaction in your pet to OTC flea-tick products containing OPs or carbamates, The HSUS recommends you consult with your veterinarian immediately.

If you think a child has ingested a pesticide, call your local poison control center.

The HSUS recommends that you report all such incidents to the EPA’s National Pesticide Telecommunications Network at 800-858-7378. The HSUS would also like to keep track of these cases. (The HSUS will not be able to respond to you personally but will keep this information on file.) The HSUS asks that you send your contact information, the product name, a brief description of the health problem, and a brief summary of your veterinarian’s findings to The HSUS at the following address:

The Humane Society of the United States
Companion Animals Department: Flea Products
2100 L St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

If you don’t have access to a computer or the Internet at home, call your local public library. There is usually a signup sheet for access to their computer, and someone who can help you find the website for The HSUS. If you still have questions about the safety of an OTC product for your pet, consider asking your veterinarian, who has more experience in this area.

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Owned by three cats over age 13