About flea treatments:

Flea and tick products such as spot-on, drops, squeeze-on, powders, foggers, sprays and shampoos contain pesticides. Sometimes they also contain IGRs (Insect Growth Regulators). Anytime you use them, you are using a potent and dangerous pesticide. These types of products leave residue in your home and expose not only your pets, but your family, to these often dangerous chemicals.

About over-the-counter flea and tick products:

Available in grocery stores, hardware stores, dollar stores, pet stores and almost everywhere, over-the-counter (OTC) flea and tick products have harmed more than 44,000 cats and dogs in the United States in 2008 alone per EPA incidence numbers. These numbers are low because the EPA relies on manufacturers of products to accurately report adverse reactions and incidences of injury and death. The EPA numbers have not been posted yet for 2009, but the extreme increase in early numbers of 2009 caused the EPA to meet with registrants (manufacturers) on their products safety. Already there was an increase in reported incidences of 53% from 2007 to 2008. These numbers only document reports of death and damage for spot on, squeeze on and drops and do not include those from dips, shampoos, powders, sprays and collars. It is estimated more than 300,000 cats and dogs in the United States have been harmed by these products together in 2008 alone. These products are available in other countries, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France, Africa, Europe and the UK, and marketed under different brand names . They are marketed by “trusted” companies such as Hartz, Sergeant’s, Farnam (Adams, Biospot), Sentry, Wellmark, Summit, Bob Martin and more. Companies such as Hartz and Sergeant’s have been trusted by pet owners for generations. They have recently been sold to companies such as a Sumitomo Corporation (a Japanese agricultural pesticide manufacturer) and ConAgra (one of North America’s largest packaged food companies). They no longer resemble the family owned companies we once knew and trusted, but have kept the known branding to capitalize on our trust.

A Caution:

Often times people will choose flea product alternatives that state “all natural” or “organic”. This does not mean they are non-toxic. Pyrethrins (and their derivatives), for example, are made from chrysanthemum. They are also one of the largest bodies of ingredients toxic to cats, dogs and humans, especially children, and cause the largest amount of incidences of pet death and damage. There are some essences/herbs that dogs do not metabolize well and cats can’t metabolize most essences including citrus, peppermint, thyme, pennyroyal, rosemary and tea tree. Do not be fooled by these “all natural” claims and always research your choices before purchasing. There is virtually no protection for your pets from dangerous and toxic products.


There are safer chemical alternatives and natural, non-chemical alternatives to these dangerous products.

Read about safer alternatives

Read Understanding Fleas

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  • shelley<span class="comment-author-location"> from Michigan City, IN, United States</span>

    my cat gizmoe lost her life to a flea product these should be taken off the market its to late for my girl lets save lives not take them rip sweetheart we miss u

  • Has anyone every heard of or used ” Natural Chemistry Natural Flea & Tick spray?” http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3447379
    Someone recommended it…and I would like to know if I can trust it before I use it…

    • Anonymous

      Hi Lenore! Here is the link to the Natural Chemistry website. To their credit, the include the MSDS for their products. (Materials Safety Data Sheet). The MSDS is for human contact, not animals, but it can often give good insight into what a product contains. http://naturalchemistry.com/pet_care/products1/natural_flea_spray_for_cats.html

      In this case the ingredients are listed as 1 to 2.5% Sulfuric acid, mono-C10-C16 alkyl esters, sodium salts. They don’t list what the rest of the 97.5 to 99% of the ingredients are. It could be anything from benzene to water. They also state having the “scent of” cinnamon and clove, both of which are toxic to cats. The MSDS also warns to avoid contact with skin and eyes and has a chronic exposure warning for skin. It also states that symptoms may be delayed. For exotocitiy “Components of this product have been identified as having potential environmental concerns.” That usually means it doesn’t break down in the environment easily, or breaks down into something that can be hazardous to wildlife or fish.

      They also say, “This product is a “Hazardous Chemical” as defined by the OSHA Hazard
      Communication Standard,” and go onto say that they seek an EPA exemption due to the materials in the product. Usually the exempt list is supposed to be for products that use “safe” ingredients, but often companies use this to put one type of ingredient in their “active ingredients” and then not disclose, claiming a trade secret, the “inert” or other ingredients, which can and often do have items in them that are far more toxic.

      On their website, however, they state their active ingredients are “The active ingredients in Natural Chemistrys Natural Flea & Tick products are cinnamon oil, cedar wood oil, and clove oil. There is also sodium lauryl sulfate which is from coconut oil and is used to stabilize the active ingredients.” Cinnamon, cedar and clove, as well as lauryl sulfate, is toxic to cats.

      Although this is likely safer than other products you could get, I would put somewhere mid-range in safety and I am not sure it’s actually effective. Some people claimed to have sprayed fleas directly and nothing happened.

      • Pearl<span class="comment-author-location"> from Crescent City, CA, United States</span>

        thanks so much for this info, my daughter just used this product (for dogs) on our cat without asking first. We are now washing it back off. Any other tips for us?

    • Anonymous

      Did you get my reply to this?

  • Ace

    Why did you use a dog product on your cat? the labels clearly state not for use on cats. you made the dumb mistake.

    • Anonymous

      First, you obviously did not read correctly. We never used the product on Timmy. We rescued him, described to us as having a “muscle disorder” which actually was a toxic reaction to the flea product (Sergeant’s Flea and Tick Spray for CATS) applied to him before we rescued him. Second, the ingredients of Sergeant’s Flea & Tick Spray for CATS has pyrethrin and PERMETHRIN in it.

    • Anonymous

      It seems to me, “Joey” that you, CatCat, CityKat and Ace are all one person, considering your IP address is the same You are located in Illinois, awfully close to where the ASPCA professional services center is located. Are you really that uninformed and angry that you have to switch IDs to 4 different ones in ONE hour, which really does not give you enough time to read and fact check anything? If you are going to slam a sight, provide links to back up what you say and say it with your actual ID so that you have some sort of credibility.

    • Anonymous

      And if you bothered to actually read what you were commenting on, instead of making up 4 aliases to spam comments of anger and no backing up of facts, you would have noticed that we rescued Timmy while he was in the middle of a toxic reaction to Sergeant’s Flea and Tick Spray for CATS, which contains, clearly labeled, both pyrethrin and permethrin. Yes, permethrin, known to be highly toxic to cats because they lack the enzymes to metabolize it. And if you had fact checked, before spewing the party line, you would know that in 2008, the EPA found that only 12% of adverse reactions were from misapplication/wrong product/or wrong species use. Maybe ask yourself why manufacturers (and the ASPCA) continue to blame the pet owner in so many cases, and not address the true safety issues of the 88% “used as directed” cases.

  • Laura

    Whatever anyone decides to use as far as flea meds for your animals, DO NOT use the Comfortis
    flea pill.  My dog, the love of my life, Oscar already had diabetes and I asked my vet what would be good for him to take because his immune system was already weakened and she recommeded the flea pill Comfortis.  I trusted my vet!  I was SO wrong to do that, because after I gave it to him
    he started having the side effects of diarrhea, drooling, weakened legs and twisted stomach.  He passed away on October 26th.  He was actually taking poison!  Their is an insectiside in the pill, which I did not know about until it was too late.  To all you animal lovers out there, please don’t give your beloved animal any of this poison.  It’s too late for my Oscar, but maybe I can save another animals life with this comment.

  • Fur Mommy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Beaver Falls, PA, United States</span>

    Laura you are never wrong for listening to your vet. Think about all the people who accidentally injure their pets with non-chemical treatments. You are not wrong to follow the guidance of a trained medical professional. Sometimes horrible things happen. It never hurts to do your own homework on the side to suggest to trained medical personnel. I’m sorry for your loss, Sweetheart. I ache for you, but do not avoid vets because of this.

  • Rowane<span class="comment-author-location"> from Warren, AR, United States</span>

    I just lost my little girl cat to Hartz spot on drops. applied very carefully. Had her and the older tomcat treated with charcoal as soon as the first symptoms showed. Now I have a smaller family by one and the old gent is still off his feed. I’m so furious I can hardly think.