A recent story from NBC warns of the dangers that can arise from improper use of “spot-on” flea treatments, such as Frontline and Advantage. Veterinarians have been prescribing these treatments for years because they’re quite effective and easy to use.

Outdoor time for dogs and their owners is a welcomed break after a long winter, but it’s a field day for ticks and fleas looking to make a home on your pet.

That’s why many pet owners have turned to “spot on” treatments applied once a month to keep fleas and ticks away.

Veterinarians have been prescribing them for years because they are so good at keeping fleas and ticks from feeding on your pets, not to mention they’re easy to use.

Unfortunately, just a little bit of product can turn to poison. The EPA reports 44,000 sick pets in 2008 because of spot-on products. That’s about 50 percent more than the year before, and 600 of those animals died.

The EPA says reactions include vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, depression and seizures.

“We don’t believe it was a bad batch. We do believe it was a misuse because labels weren’t clear,” said Mary Monell of the EPA.

For example, using a dog product on a cat or using a product for a large dog on a small dog.

The EPA says to increase the safety of these products it will “begin reviewing labels to determine which ones needs stronger and clearer labeling statements.”

The EPA doesn’t think these reactions were due to defective products, but rather improper use, such as using a dog product on a cat, or a product designed for a large dog on a small dog. The EPA plans to begin reviewing labels in order to determine how clear and concise the usage directions are.

One important note to keep in mind: flea and tick treatments made for dogs can contain permethrin, which can be fatal to cats. Never use a treatment designed for one species on another. And, when in doubt, consult your veterinarian. Used properly, spot-on flea treatments are quite safe, but they are still toxic. So, exercise caution, and read those labels carefully.

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