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The Environmental Danger of Pet Insecticides

by John Burns BVMS MRCVS

How safe is flea and tick treatment for dogs? According to the latest research, these well known treatments we routinely give our beloved pets could be doing more harm than good, especially when it comes to the environment. John Burns, Burns Pet Nutrition Founder and veterinary surgeon, has the latest.

Rosemary Perkins, a vet at the University of Sussex, has been doing research into the effects of the use of flea and tick treatments on dogs and cats. Fipronal and imidacloprid which are the active ingredients in treatments used on dogs are cats were banned from agricultural use in 2017 and 2018 because of their toxic effects on bees and other insect life. The research team has now found fipronil in 99% of samples taken from 20 rivers in England. One member of the research team said, “Our rivers are routinely and chronically contaminated with these powerful and toxic chemicals which we expect to have a significant impact on insect life in our rivers.”

Ms Perkins points out that no environmental impact assessment was done on the use of insecticides on pets as it was not thought important to do so. But there are now over 80 of these products licensed for use in the UK and many are used on a regular monthly basis, whether or not the pet needs treatment. With 10 million dogs and 11 million cats, the majority of whom are treated every month, that adds up to a massive amount of pesticide in the environment.

Needless to say, this means that the pet household will also be heavily contaminated with these insecticides. So far, no one seems to be concerned about possible side-effects on the health of the pet and human family of being permanently immersed in an insecticide-laden environment.
It’s time to stop using these treatments routinely, especially in the winter months, and use them only when necessary. My collie, Lizzie lived for 16 years, and I think I treated her for fleas about 3 times in her life.

by John Burns BVMS MRCVS
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