Pet reactions to certain flea medications

Tuesday, June 17th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa family is counting its blessings, after their pet cat survived a close call. The cat had a serious reaction to a certain flea medication - one the cat's owners were shocked to learn has affected hundreds of others. In some cases, it was a fatal reaction.

News on 6 reporter Heather Johnson says it's still on store shelves. Tim Davie, "We woke up Sunday morning about 5 am to go on our week long summer vacation to find Figaro in a full blown seizure."

The Davies rushed the cat to an emergency clinic, where doctors told them their pet's terrifying condition was caused by their choice in flea medicine. "Come to find out the vet had said it's just re-packaged pesticide.” The Davies had purchased Hartz Advanced Care, which looked just like their usual flea and tick remedy, but is made with phenothrin, a synthetic form of insecticide veterinarians say is outdated, ineffective and dangerous.

Dr. Bryan Jeffries, Veterinarian: "In order to compete with those what some of the other companies have done is taken some of those less effective insecticides put em in that same small vial, the same packaging only they've had to super concentrate the dosage, 45% sometimes and when you put that on a cat, cats are very sensitive to it." All of these products warn against sensitivity in cats but after hundreds of complaints and a class action lawsuit, Hartz included stricter language on this product, telling that your cat could have tremors to full blown seizures.

Davie says with potentially deadly side effects, a stricter warning on the box simply is not enough. Tim Davie: "We felt very secure Hartz I thought was a very safe name, but after looking at the internet and the number of cases involved in this it's unbelievable it's still out there on the market." Dr. Jeffries: "My advice is to stay away from those products completely get the better product, the safer product from your veterinarian. Don't try and go cheaper because you end up not saving money in the long run and endangering your cat."

The 2001 lawsuit against Hartz was settled out of court. Part of the agreement was that the stricter warning label be included. The company maintains it's sold tens of millions of doses of this product and insists the instances of bad reactions in cats are rare.