The snow has not completely melted and the ticks are already making a play for Maya and Seamus. Looking back a year ago, as a new dog owner, I was instructed to buy a certain chemical product to apply to my pups, which would literally have the ticks and fleas falling dead to the floor. This, I thought to myself, is too good to be true; but because I was ignorant and advised by those I considered more knowledgeable, I bought a rather expensive 3-months supply of Frontline with the anticipation of a tick-free summer ahead. As I read the package instructions I was shocked to find that the chemical ingredients were so toxic they must be applied with latex gloves so as not to, as in never, touch my skin.
Yes, but what of my pups skin? If it is toxic to me, what must it be to their small bodies? You might think that I tossed the whole thing in the garbage on that realization, but no, I am ashamed to say that I did not. For two months I applied the toxic chemicals until one day I did my own research. What I found is shocking, perverted, untenable, and horrifying, but we Americans keep on poisoning our pets, along with ourselves and chemical companies continue to provide the loaded gun.
The active ingredient in Frontline is fipronil, an insecticide and member of the phenylpyrazole family of chemicals. Its purpose is to disrupt an insect’s nervous system functions. Well, hold on there doggie, according to the Journal of Pesticide Reform, “In tests with laboratory animals, fipronil caused aggressive behavior, damaged kidneys, and ‘drastic alterations in thyroid function.’ The fipronil-containing product Frontline caused changes in the levels of sex hormones.”
The other two toxic bad boys in Frontline are Methoprene, a neurotoxin that can cause liver enlargements, headaches, throat irritation and nausea and Ethanol, which can cause fatigue, lethargy, dizziness and nervous system disruption.
In her excellent 2008 Care2 article, The Surprising Poisons in Our Pets, Melissa Breyer reports that according to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center, “dogs have much higher rates of cancer than people do, including 35 times more skin cancer, four times more breast tumors, eight times more bone cancer, and twice the incidence of leukemia.”
And here’s the kicker, the Environmental Protection Agency has classified fibronil as a carcinogen, because exposure to fipronil caused benign and malignant thyroid tumors in laboratory animals. All of which means it can cause cancer in both animals and humans.
You can be exposed to fibronil by petting an animal that has been treated with Frontline. The treatment persists for at least 56 days on pets. The good news is that the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has checked over a hundred tick and flea products finding that most of them contain chemicals toxic enough to cause harm to both pets and humans. You should refer to their list before buying a product that may potentially harm your pet and contaminate yourself and your children. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural ways to control ticks and fleas in your environment. Care2 has a number of articles to help you out. Click HERE for a list of natural flea and tick control remedies.