Public advisory

Health Canada Reminds Consumers to Follow Label Directions on Flea and Tick Pest Control Products

Starting date:
March 17, 2010
Posting date:
March 17, 2010
Type of communication:
Specialized Products
Source of recall:
Health Canada
New safety information
General Public
Identification number:

Health Canada is reminding consumers to follow label directions on flea and tick pest control products for use on cats and dogs.

Health Canada issued an advisory in April 2009 after reviewing data from the Pesticide Incident Reporting Program. The advisory was issued after Health Canada received numerous reports of adverse reactions in pets following the use of flea and tick control products. The volume of reports suggested that there may be a potential for adverse reactions in cats and dogs from the use of flea and tick control products applied to the skin and sold in stores and veterinary clinics as pesticides.

Health Canada has recently undertaken an extensive data analysis. A number of trends were found in the incident reports and Health Canada has studied the possible association with toxicology information for Canadian registered products. Health Canada has identified important trends, including:

  • Most incidents were minor or moderate in nature.
  • Skin effects were the most frequent symptom in cats and dogs from spot-on treatments, which are usually applied to a localized area on a pet's body. Other effects were neuromuscular, such as tremors, and gastrointestinal, such as vomiting.
  • The dose that is recommended for various weight ranges for these flea and tick products may be too wide, causing smaller animals to receive high doses and experience more serious effects.
  • Improper use or misuse of flea and tick control products is of concern.
  • Dog products being applied to cats was a recurring problem, particularly for the active ingredient permethrin, a chemical commonly found in pesticides.

As a result of these findings, Health Canada is taking action and working with product manufacturers to ensure that within one year, the following requirements are met:

  • Product labels specify more precautionary language to prevent overdosing in small animals.
  • Spot-on products that contain permethrin will include pictograms and more strict statements to prevent cats' exposure to dog products.
  • Spot-on product safety labels are improved to address improper use or misuse.

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency continues to improve protocols and collaborate with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which found similar results in the analysis of their incident reports and are proposing similar mitigation measures. To view Health Canada's analysis, visit Health Canada's website.

Consumers are reminded to use flea and tick control products only on the animal specified by the product label – dog products for dogs, and cat products for cats. Also, apply only the amount indicated for the size and weight of the animal being treated.

Pet owners that are concerned with the use of flea and tick products should consult a veterinarian or the product manufacturer for additional information on how to use the product safely.

For further safety tips and more information, the initial advisory can be viewed on Health Canada's website.

For more information, consumers can contact the Pest Management Information Service, toll-free, at 1-800-267-6315.

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