In Your Corner: Safe For Dogs?

By Ryan Elijah

June 18, 2010 Updated Feb 20, 2009 at 8:54 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's Newscenter)--
A local dog owner recently purchased an over the counter flea treatment and she wasn't prepared for what happened next
"thirty minutes later she went into shock, she was shaking, couldn't breathe properly"
We're protecting the identities because they say Sergeant's pet care products asked them to sign a release stating they wouldn't talk about their experience.
Linda says her dog almost died and had to be treated at 2 different animal hospitals. Despite repeated efforts we didn't get a response from the company before our deadline. When we did some research we found dozens of complaints from around the country, similar to Linda's. Many complained that their dog suffered severe effects like foaming at the mouth, and we found one in Georgia where the dog didn't survive.
One area animal hospital told us over the counter reactions are fairly common in animals,
Dr. Dan Rodgers told us while his hospital hasn't seen any problems related to flea treatments, some dogs have increased sensitivity to the chemicals, which is why it's safest to use medicine prescribed by a veterinarian
"they're better off relying on a personal veterinarian's advice about selecting a product that they've found to be the least reactive"
Cost is one reason why over the counter products are popular. This 4-month supply from Sergeant's costs only 12 dollars, what is interesting is when you read the box there are plenty of warnings about using the product on cats, but no mention at all of any possible adverse reaction to a dog.
Most products use nerve agents like, Permithrin and Cyphenothrin to kill fleas on dogs, since they're pesticides, they're actually regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Vets say in some dogs the chemicals can affect the nervous and digestive systems. Sergeant's told Linda it's products are tested to be safe and her dog's reaction was "unusual", but they did reimburse her for the cost of the product and the treatments afterward.
Linda "the vets that I talked with, including her own vet told me that this is common"
Linda says she wanted to speak out so unsuspecting dog owners wouldn't have to experience what she did. As the heart of flea season approaches this spring, consumers need to carefully research each product and use it exactly as it's prescribed. Dr. Rodgers told us some consumers don't use the products as directed which is a common reason for some of the reactions.

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