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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  • by Pat Location: Pennsylvania on Dec 10, 2008 at 07:56 PM
    I just used Triforce on my 3 dogs and they all had a horrible reaction. thought they would go out of their minds with skin irritation. Biting, scratching, twitching. No one should be using this product. Ended up at emergency clinic at 3 am. very, very scarey. Once I got online and saw these posts I couldn't believe this product was still on the market. Don't use it.
  • by Barb Conradi Location: Milan, Indiana on Nov 16, 2008 at 07:49 PM
    I used Sergeants Gold flea and tick squeeze on my 3 Golden Retrievers and after 1 hour, all 3 of them had terrible affects, drolling, running around, rubbing themselves like they were going crazy.One of my dogs lost control of his hind legs and was crying and biting at his tail. A week after applying it, my female dog had to spend 3 days at the vet. We almost lost her. I made 2 complaints about this product on the consumer affairs website along with so many others who used it on their beloved animals. when you call the hotline on the box, they tell you to bath your dog in Dawn dish detergent and give them chicken broth. They don't show any compassion and neither does there complaint dept. I want to get the message out there, so no other animal has to suffer. I would also like anyone else who had this problem get in touch with me so we can try to get this company to stop manufacturing this product. Some dogs have even died. How can we have this prduct taken off the shelves?
  • by diane Location: Norton Shores Michigan on Jul 29, 2008 at 06:26 PM
    I gave my Cat the Over the Counter Flea Medication, Later that evening she was having extreme Seizures. The seizures lasted for 6 hours! After visiting the Vet, and getting some Shampoo, Anti-Shaking pills, Food and a Syringe to feed her...(she had gouges in her tongue from the seizures!) She is now doing much better. NEVER Buy the Over the Counter Flea products for your Cat!!! It ISNT worth the risk!!!!
  • by Deb Location: ABQ on Jul 15, 2008 at 05:58 AM
    My dog had and is still having (2 days later) adverse reactions to Sergeants Gold Plus. He is having restlessness- we have not slept for 2 nights, itching and twitching; he is whining and I just don't know what to do!! I took him to ER vet but nothing has helped- meds with steroids/antihistamines. I will be taking him to the regular vet today! I am so worried and furious that this stuff in on the shelves!!
  • by Jeff Anderson Location: WRDW on Jul 3, 2008 at 02:34 PM
    Sandra, As far as I can tell, Frontline does not have Permethrin in it. At least the types I found. As for Vectra 3D, I'd check with your vet to make sure it would be acceptable to use on your pet.
  • by James Location: Pennsylvania on Jun 25, 2008 at 11:15 AM
    I am the administrator of a website that is concerned with adverse reactions from flea control products. My website is: http://www.elversonpuzzle.com/biospot.html If you search the internet, you will find many reports of severe adverse reactions from Sentry Pro XFC, Sergeants Gold Squeeze-On for Dogs, and Agri Labs TriForce Canine Squeeze-On, which are all the same product made by Sergeants Pet Care. I have urged the EPA to investigate these incidents, and to remove these products from the market, effective immediately.
  • by Sandra Location: Augusta GA on Jun 24, 2008 at 07:21 PM
    I feel that this story left me with more questions than answers. Frontline & Vectra 3D, common flea preventatives obtained through your vet, also contain this permerthrin. Neither of those are obtainable at a store. They are only through mailorder or through a vet. I think this should have been addressed in a more thorough way.
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