Cons: potential adverse reaction
In South Florida fleas and ticks are a serious problem, particularly during our hot, damp summers. It seems this climate is just ideal for them to thrive and reproduce.
While our Miniature Schnauzer, Brandy is almost exclusively an indoor dog, when nature calls we go for our walks outdoors and up and onto the grass where she is fair game for fleas.
Now it seems to me that it wasnt all that many years ago (or maybe it was), that we dealt with fleas and ticks with the use of an inexpensive flea collar. My dogs would play on our heavily wooded property in Connecticut and would be reasonably free of these pests.
Well Im not sure whether the fleas got smarter or the manufacturers got smarter, but battling fleas seems to have gotten a whole lot more expensive. Just when did flea and tick control become the money pot it has become?
So, in an act of consumer outrage over the increasingly ridiculous prices charged for flea preventatives I purchased some Bio Spot: Spot On several months ago.
Doing My Research
Of course before making the purchase research was called for. I turned to the mighty Epinions Search Engine for help. With about 50 reviews on the product, ratings were mixed and the product averaged 3 stars. But long story short we thought wed give it a try. At about $12-$13 for a 3 month supply (contrasted to $45-$95 for others), I thought "good deal".
Now I should point out that I know a good deal about chemicals, their manufacture and their economics. Chemicals, particularly in the quantities were talking about are cheap, very, very cheap. The mark-up from manufacturing cost to retail price would evoke envy from the Colombian Cocaine Cartel guys. But on with the review.
So monthly I applied Bio Spot to our Miniature Schnauzer, Brandy and fleas and ticks did tend to stay away. I did notice that Brandy wasn't thrilled with the treatment and would lose her appetite for the rest of the day. But then, I feel the same way about taking my flu shot each year.
A Cumulative Effect?
I did notice that with each application her adverse reaction seemed to last just a bit longer and just this last month after her treatment her appetite seemed more severely suppressed. She also threw up the contents of an empty stomach (bile) a few times, usually late at night. And, most unusual for her, instead of following me around the house all day, she chose to curl up under the coffee table in the living room and spend her time alone.
A trip to the vet cast a vote against Bio Spot. Apparently, while some dogs tolerate the combination of Permethrin (45%) and (S)-Methoprene (3%), many dogs do not and Brandy was showing some of the classic symptoms of a bad reaction. This was a reaction the vet claimed to have seen countless times before.
For those so inclined, a Google search of the ingredient Permethrin will bring up a large number of websites and blogs that savage products that list it as a main ingredient. Both Cutters and K9 Advantix are included among their number.
The ingredient, Permethrin, is a synthetic form of the natural substance, Pyrethrins obtained from certain species of the chrysanthemum plant.
Our vet recommended switching to Frontline Plus (fipronil and (S)-methoprene) which is apparently much more easily tolerated by dogs. Our vet (thief that she is) charges $93 for a 6 month supply. It's considerably less than that in better pet stores. Also recommended was Revolution, a prescription only flea and tick preventative.
Our vet also recommended that before we treat Brandy next with Frontline or any other product we bathe her with a non-medicated shampoo and give her a few more days to get over the Bio Spot.
It should be noted that virtually all of these medications use the term tolerated and discuss symptoms of overdose. Its important to keep in mind that we are talking about insecticides.
We waited a few days and then applied the Frontline Plus. So far, so good. No adverse reaction has been noted and no fleas.
An Apology to Brandy
Am I feeling a little guilty? Of course I am! I am also feeling a bit poorer. Vet visits don't come cheap. Oh no they dont!
Brandy just sits by my side looking at me as if to ask "why?" She seems to have the guilt thing down cold. I wonder where she learned that? To Brandy I say Im sorry, it wont happen again.
So, before you put that Bio Spot (or K9 Advantix or Cutters) in you shopping basket you might pause. Picture those sad little eyes looking up at you. Okay, okay, I'll stop.
© Rudi Xeno 2007