So, like I promised, this blog will still majority of the time be devoted to vegan food and recipes, and not be over-preachy. But this issue upsets me so much that my journalism background had to come out.
A few days ago I got a new kitty because my building has a small rat problem and I’ve wanted a companion for awhile. I got her from an animal sanctuary where she was in a room full of other kittens, so it’s not surprise she had some fleas. As a broken college kid, I did not have the money to buy her expensive Advantage or Frontline. My mom warned me that cheap stuff from the grocery store does not work, but it was was all I could afford without bugging my parents for money. So I picked up some Hartz Ultra Guard One Spot for Cats and Kittens. It was only $9.99 for a 3 months supply. I put it on Penny when I got home and was curious what was in and why it was so much cheaper than vet recommended brands. Wikipedia told me methoprene, the active ingredient, is an insecticide that interrupts the life cycle of fleas eggs. But it does not actually kill adult fleas. That annoyed me because it was the adult fleas not the eggs that were causing Penny to itch and chew fur off.
Then I Googled “Hartz” and several links about lethal the products are came up. I clicked on one called Hartz Victims, a site where people post their stories on what happened to their pet when they used Hartz products. Some of them very recent. As I read, I looked down to see Penny grooming herself and panicked. I scooped her up and ran to the bathtub. I washed her neck first was baking soda and normal soap, then I scrubbed her whole body in Dawn. I felt so guilty, I chose money over her health. I was afraid I poisoned her. My new little friend, only 9-months old. As I scrubbed her, I was worried I’d have to rush her to an emergency vet in the middle of night from a grand mal seizure or something.
However, besides being annoyed at the multiple baths, she seemed perfectly fine and the product was only on for an hour. But I decided to stay in and watch her the rest of the night. I poked her every once and awhile to make sure she would response like a normal kitten, and she did. She even discovered that she can snap the string on my eye mask to wake me up, so I knew she was all right.
Penny was lucky. Although some people have used Hartz for years on multiple pets and have no adverse reactions whatsoever, I did not want to risk it on my baby. I found more website, more horror stories, and even Youtube videos. What upsets me the most is that this product is still allowed on the shelves. If this was a human product, it would have been removed and the company sued to death after the first death. But, because it is for animals, it is allowed to stay. The EPA forced them to reformulate their cat products in 2006 but not its dog product. But this did not do much good because there is still numerous reports of cat and continued dogs death well after 2006.
So, please do not use Hartz products. Your pet might be lucky enough to be one of the ones who has no reactions, but your money goes into making more products that can potentially kill another pet. There are some risks with all chemical flea medicines, but nothing like Hartz (I read a few stories about Sergeant, another cheap grocery store brand too). Advantage can cause a reactions if improperly used, like if it is put on in the wrong place where the pet can lick it. The stories you read about Hartz happened when the owners did nothing wrong. From what I can gather, methoprene is lethal to your pet in large doses and there is way more in one single tube of Hartz than needed to kill your pet.