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Letter: Dog Almost Died From Flea Meds

Just because the FDA has approved it and the gov’t allows it for sale, doesn't mean its “safe.”

I had an awful experience this morning which I would like to share with everyone. It regards a most common product known to many of us who are pet owners; Flea and Tick Killer.

I am highly educated in chemical, biological, nuclear toxins, hold a pesticide applicator license and regularly work with chemicals. I am familiar with the benefits and downfalls of them all and am always cautious but open minded to the research conducted on these (chemical) products.

That said, I have used these products from various manufacturers over the course of many years and have had no ill affect until today. Most flea and tick products contain a combination of Pyrethroids and growth regulators. Others vary in their composition and all of them should be studied by us pet owners prior to application. Growth regulators are often labeled non toxic and “harmless to human or animal health.” Pyrethroids are often the organic gardeners’ choice product since it is a naturally occurring product derived from chrysanthemums. It can be manufactured synthetically as well.

However, it is still a substance used to kill other organisms. It is a neurotoxin. Though there is no guarantee that you or your pet won’t react negatively as mine (and myself) did this morning. The product that I used was Sentry Pro XFT, a regular, over the counter flea and tick medicine.

The primary ingredient to Sentry Pro XFT is Cyphenothrin. The following definition was extracted from: www.pesticideinfo.org

Cyphenothrin is a Pyrethroid compound.
Report a Poisoning
Symptoms of Poisoning with Pyrethroid Compounds
Find Products Containing this Chemical

- Irritation of skin and eyes.
- Irritability to sound or touch, abnormal facial sensation, sensation of prickling, tingling or creeping on skin, numbness.
- Headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, fatigue.
- In severe cases: fluid in the lungs and muscle twitching may develop. Seizures may occur and are more common with more toxic cyano-pyrethroids.

These are the signs and symptoms that my Labrador Maizey experienced at 0300hrs this morning after an application (last night) of Sentry Pro XFT flea control meds. We rushed her to the vet at 0530hrs, she could barely walk straight and I thought she was dying. One of the worst mornings that I have had in a while (I hope Valentine’s Day improves).

As a former chemical officer I ought to know not to apply nerve agents to things that I love because they are meant to kill other creatures. Just because the FDA has approved it and the gov’t allows it for sale, doesn't mean its “safe.” Oh by the way my nose is numb- I was affected by it as well probably while washing it off of my cat and dog in a frantic hurry not to let them die or stroke out. Maizey exhibited signs of stroke and I am hoping it was just extreme dizziness.

I will not be applying any further pesticides to my animals ever again. It's not right to put an animal and my family through something like this. I'll just have to keep Maizey a little cleaner and wash the fleas away. I hope you all pay attention to what you're applying to your animals, your yards and your selves. Don't think that if the vet or the Big Box Store sells it to you that it's any safer. A nerve agent is a nerve agent no matter how you package it. Some of our greatest personal dangers come from over the counter products.

The bottom line is, if you don’t have to use it then don’t. Don’t use anything just because the vet tells you to or everyone you know does it. Use it out of sincere necessity. Please, if you do use any of these products, look up the signs, symptoms and possible remedies of poisoning prior to application. I was surprised to know that there is no antidote for this kind of poisoning in the animal medical world. Whereas military service members are issued Atropine injectors for nerve agent poisoning. While we wait for an antidote, the next best thing is Dawn (heavy degreasing) dishwashing detergent. Flea and tick meds are oil based and difficult to remove once applied to the skin.

Take care and I wish you and your pet a long and healthy life.

Lorren Pogson

Nichole Baugh February 14, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Lorren, I am so sorry to hear about your dog. I checked our system and it appears that you have not contacted us to report a product issue. I would urge you to contact our Consumer Affairs department at 800-224-7387. They can take all of the information you have, including your veterinarian’s report, and start an investigation so we can work with you. -Sergeant's Pet Care Products
James Terbush February 15, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Lorren, I hope your dog is doing better this morning. By getting her to the vet as quickly as you did, you may have saved her life. According to the EPA (which regulates pet pesticide products): "There have been several reported pet incidents involving the use of cyphenothrin pet treatments on dogs. From January 2006 to November 2009, there were 149 reported mortalities, 367 major reported incidents, 13,455 moderate reported incidents and 32,713 minor reported incidents. From all reported pesticide related pet incidents, cyphenothrin products account for 10% of the total reported pet mortalities, 13% of all major incidents, 54% of all moderate incidents, and 65% of all minor incidents. Some of these incidents resulted from cyphenothrin products co-formulated with pyriproxifen, and it is unclear whether one active ingredient or the other, or an emergent effect from the formulation is responsible for these incidents." The EPA also recently released a cumulative risk assessment for pyrethrins and pyrethroids, which stated that cyphenothrin was used as the benchmark pyrethroid for the pet use scenario because it presented the "highest potential risk" to humans that are exposed to pesticide-treated pets. http://www.biospotvictims.org/EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0842-0005_2_.pdf Please contact Sergeant's and let them know what happened to your dog. I would also find out how to submit your emergency vet expenses to them for reimbursement.
James Terbush February 15, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Here's the EPA's cumulative risk assessment for pyrethrins and pyrethroids: http://www.biospotvictims.org/EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0746-0003_1_.pdf (see page 76 of 88)
Anna Carr February 13, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Don't use Sentry Pro XFT.It almost killed my dog.Please stop selling this product.
Christy Maloney July 11, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Hi Lorren, I'm so sorry to hear about your dog that sounds horribly traumatic, I hope she has made a full recovery! As you are an expert in this area, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind reading my story and offering some insight? My 7 year old golden retriever died last June very suddenly. We initially blamed her death on a car accident as she was running up towards me from the road and my friend had seen her there minutes before. We buried her that day and never determined the route cause but I've become increasingly suspicious that her death was not because of an accident. Haley was in incredible shape, very healthy no problems with her most recent vet check up. We had never used flea/tick pesticides before but our groomer had highly suggested it last year as the tick population was boobing. For ~2 weeks after she had been easily startled and nervous barking at nothing and cowering for no reason, very atypical. She was always very bold and social which she continued to be but she was always spooked. Then just before she died when my friend saw her on the road she was acting strangly and became very parinoid and began barking at my friend as if she was going "mad" as she put it. I heard her barking and called her back to the house. She came running up to me very spooked, turned back to bark again and her hind legs kicked up and she collapsed, seizured and died within one minute. There is no way to know for sure what happened a car accident cannot be ruled out however, I checked her over and found not signs of trauma. There could have been internal bleeding but her symptoms looked to be very neurological. It's too late now but it may offer us some closure. Thank you.
Patience E Martin December 10, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Hello Lorreen, We would just like to comment that we had an similar experience as you did we have 2 dogs one that is 9 a chocolate lab and a 11 mo old German Sheppard we gave this same product to them as we found that it was a cheeper product then what we have bought in the past (Frontline etc) so we didnt think that anything would happen. Our older dog as much as an hr later was lying down and could not get up his legs were like jelly and he was shaking uncontrollably all over he became sick and ended up messing on the floor. We immediately put him in the tub and washed him with shampoo repeatedly. After he couldnt walk so we layed him down on his bed and he seemed to come out of it until he tried to get up and was very shaky and wobbly. Our younger dog didn't have this same reaction but he scratched uncontrollably for an hr and was panting loudly.They seem to be all right today as this happened on Sunday and it is Tuesday now we have just been keeping an eye on them. My husband went to the place where we purchased this product and the manager advised that he will send an email to the company (Sentry). We were very displeased with the product and strongly suggest anyone against using this product on their pets!!

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