Q&A: Spotlight on spot-on parasite preventives

Q&A: Spotlight on spot-on parasite preventives

Recent EPA reports may mean your clients are struggling to sort fact from fiction about spot-on parasite preventives. Here's what you need to know to educate pet owners about how to safely and effectively use spot-on parasite preventives.
Jun 01, 2010
By dvm360.com staff

The circumstances resemble a Greek tragedy: The treatment meant to safeguard pet health leads to a dangerous—perhaps even life-threatening—adverse reaction. The plot twist: There's a happy ending.

The story begins in 2009 after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a higher number of reports about dogs and cats suffering from adverse reactions to spot-on parasite-control products. The EPA responded by conducting a yearlong safety review of the products, subsequently recommending stronger label warnings, public education, and increased monitoring for adverse events.

The EPA's plan should help, but it doesn't go far enough, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). One of CAPC's key objections is that the EPA won't be looking into whether spot-on parasite products were purchased and applied under the direction of a veterinarian. This is important because the most common cause of pets experiencing an adverse reaction to these products is simple human error. To put it bluntly, pet owners often fail to read the product instructions and properly apply the spot-on treatment.

The good news is that you're perfectly positioned to let clients know they shouldn't fear parasite prevention products. In fact, stopping the use of parasite preventives exposes cats and dogs to the possibility of being infested by fleas and ticks, which spread dangerous illnesses such as Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis. These parasites can also cause debilitating allergic reactions and secondary infections in many pets. To help end this tale with a "happily ever after," be prepared to answer these client questions about spot-on parasite preventives for pets.

Q: Should I worry about the safety of my pet's parasite preventive?

The short answer: No. Julie Sontag, AAT, RVT, a veterinary technician at Clairmont Animal Hospital in Decatur, Ga., says you should explain to pet owners that parasite-prevention products are safe when used according to the label for the correct species and pet weight. "It's safe to use products recommended by your veterinary professional if you follow the label directions," Sontag says. "Directions and warnings are printed for a reason and shouldn't be ignored."

Go on to address with clients the importance of choosing the right preventive. "Each product is designed for different species and different weight classes," Sontag says. The spot-on products designed for dogs are dangerous for cats—and vice versa. Also outline that it's imperative to apply the preventive correctly. Using spot-on products too often could threaten the pet's health. Finally, remind clients that companies have thoroughly researched and tested their products before they enter the veterinary market, Sontag says.