EPA responds to public comments on spot-on flea and tick products

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The Environmental Protection Agency has responded to comments on its action plan to address safety concerns with spot-on pesticides used to control fleas and ticks on cats and dogs.

The EPA called for comments in spring 2010 and released its response in fall 2011.

Among other comments, some members of the public requested that the EPA ban pesticide products that can kill cats or require explicit labeling on spot-on products for dogs that describes the dangers that the products pose to cats.

The EPA responded that it does not intend to cancel dog spot-on products containing ingredients that can be toxic to cats, but the agency is working with manufacturers to change labeling of spot-on products to address the risks of these products to cats.

The labeling changes would split spot-on products that can be used in both cats and dogs into separate products, include the word "cat" or "dog" in the product name, repeat "cat" or "dog" throughout directions for use, and add images and language on dog products warning against use in cats.

In addition, the EPA is working with manufacturers to add information to labels about possible adverse effects of spot-on products, including instructions to consult a veterinarian or the manufacturer if any adverse effect occurs.

dog The AVMA, among its other comments, stated that veterinarians should have a bigger role in the use of pet spot-on products. The Companion Animal Parasite Council, Humane Society of the United States, and members of the public also suggested a need for more veterinary involvement.

The EPA responded that it lacks the authority to require that pet owners purchase pet pesticides only from veterinarians rather than over the counter. The agency does recommend that pet owners consult their veterinarians about how to protect their pets from fleas and ticks.

The EPA's response to comments on spot-on products is available at epa.gov/opp00001/health/pets.htm. The AVMA's comments and advice on the safe use of spot-on flea and tick products are available at https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Safe-Use-of-Flea-and-Tick-Products-in-Pets.aspx.

The EPA recommends that veterinarians report adverse effects of pesticides via the National Pesticide Information Center's Veterinary Pesticide Adverse Effects Portal at http://npic.orst.edu/vet.