On Your Side: Over the Counter Pet Med Dangers

By: Jeff Anderson Email
By: Jeff Anderson Email

News 12 at 6, June 24, 2008

NORTH AUGUSTA -- A lot of flea and tick medication is actually prescribed for your pet by a veterinarian. There are some forms that are sold over the counter. They're cheaper, but one vet says they can be a danger, which isn't worth the savings.

Janet Pearson has been hit hard just like anyone else with the cost of everything going up. So, that led her to cut costs on her dog's flea medication.

"I thought I'd try something cheaper," she said.

She went with an over the counter brand called Sentry Pro, but she says she won't ever again.

"Within 30 minutes, Daisy was throwing up. A few minutes later, Sweetie and Bacon were too. Within a few hours, they were shaking and couldn't be still," she said.

Luckily, she was able to wash them off and within a couple of days, they were back to normal.

Veterinarian Doctor George Runnels says, unfortunately, Janet's experience with over the counter flea medicine is not unusual. And that's because of one common ingredient, called permerthrin.

"It's experience in emergency animal care, a big number of adverse reactions come from permithrin based drugs," said Dr. Runnels, who heads up the Augusta Animal Emergency Clinic on Steven's Creek Road.

Permithrin is a common ingredient in many over the counter flea control products. A lot of times they are cheaper than their counterparts. The key ingredient is a nerve agent that kills the fleas, but it can also do big damage to your pet.

Dr. Runnels said, "seizures, tremors, hyper-ventilation," are common side effects.

We did find some other consumer complaints about Sentry Pro and also an online pet supply store that has pulled that product from its shelves. Permithrin based products are regulated by the EPA because it is a pesticide.

The agency says it has is not aware of any allegations of nerve damage from permethrin at this time.

As for Janet, it doesn't matter if it is for sale anywhere. Her dogs won't ever have them again. "Today they're fine and back to normal," she said.

We did call the manufacturer of the Sentry Pro brands about this, but we did not get a response by the time we went to air.

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