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Hidden Dangers In Zodiac Spot On Flea Control

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How many times have you purchased a product, let's say a cleanser or a bug spray, and in big bold colours they display the various warning signs. Toxic, flammable, carcinogenic or whatever are in large enough type so there is no way that you're going to be able to miss it.

Or how about when you get a prescription you've never had before. The pharmacist, if he or she is any good, ensures that you know all possible contradictions and their symptoms. In fact most of them even provide a print out with which once you read you wonder if the stuff is going to kill you before it cures you, but at least you know what could go wrong.

Then of course there is now the grocery store where more and more packaging are carrying not only a products' nutritional value, but lists it's potential for allergies as well as any foods it might have come into contact with that could cause an allergic reaction. In fact everywhere you go you can see health warnings on the outside chance that something could harm you.

Whether it's because companies are terrified of being sued, new government regulations, or simple decency it doesn't matter. These warnings are now accepted as course and you expect to see them. The days of having to make use of magnifying products or having to pore over acres of small print in order to find out what exactly it is you're using or eating are long gone.

At least I thought they were, or maybe what applies to humans doesn't apply to pet products. That's always possible seeing as what's been going on with cat and dog food recently and other feeds in the past that have been discovered to be deadly. Heck mad cow disease was first started by adding sheep brains to cow feed, because the illness actually forms in sheep not cows.

Every spring I usually treat my cats with Revolution Blue, a medication I buy from my vets that gets rid of fleas, ear mites and other insects that bother them. They are indoor cats so that's all they usually need. Revolution is a great product that's easy to use, as you just squeeze a small tube's contents into the space between your pet's shoulder blades and it takes care of the rest. I think the natural oils in the cat's hair carries it around the body.
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With our vet moving beyond comfortable walking distance I haven't been able to get out to pick up the medication for my cats in a couple of years but they'd been fine anyway so it hadn't seemed to matter. This year thought they started to display symptoms that they might be picking up mites or fleas; they can come in on my wife or I, if we have been around an animal that has them, easily enough.

So I went to a reputable pet store and bought Zodiac Spot On Flea Control for Cats and Kittens which promises to kill flea eggs in the animal's fur. You apply it just like the Revolution. So we did this on Saturday to all four of our cats.
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By Sunday one of them was sporting a bald spot between his shoulder blades. Although we had noticed that it had aggravated them when we had put the medication on their shoulders for a little while after, we didn't make any connection between what was happening with him and the Spot On until we noticed his skin where the hair had fallen out looked like it had been burned it was so bright red and weepy.
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His hair had fallen out in little clumps in that area, I found it lying in a cluster on the carpet. It wasn't like it had shed or anything because it wasn't loose hairs, you could see it formed into clumps with the roots and everything. He's a shorthaired cat so we've been able to monitor him closely now and it doesn't look like the damage is spreading any further.

But yesterday I was walking through the hall and found a pile of hair from another one of our cats. His hair is thicker with more layers so we hadn't known anything was wrong until it all just fell out in a clump. It was like he had rolled over onto his back like cats do and had left his hair behind him when he got up.

Even before that had happened we had begun to suspect the Spot On might have had something to do with it. I looked over the packaging and saw something that said what to do in the event of a problem with humans. But didn't see anything else on a scan. The type is very small and it had been hard enough trying to read the instructions for applying the material. I had had my glasses on that were what I used for reading normal sized type face and even smaller, but the type was not much bigger than this.

My wife went over the back of the packaging with a magnifying glass and finally found first aid instructions for cats. While the first aid instructions for humans had its own subject heading and started a paragraph – for the animals it began mid way through the paragraph on human first aid.

It was the only place that they actually used the word pesticide in the packaging. "Sensitivities may occur after using any pesticide for pets" They go on to say if sensitivity occurs wash your pet with mild soap and water, and rinse with large amounts of water. If it continues seek medical attention – taking the packaging and P.C.P. number with you.

Of our four cats only the two boys showed any signs of "sensitivity". Have you ever even thought about washing a cat, let alone a cat that's not in the best of moods? Neither of our boys are small either; the black one weighs in at around 25lbs and the grey one is about fifteen but is affectionately known by the vets as "live wire" for the difficulty involved with taking his temperature (I've worn him as a hat with a thermometer hanging out of his butt when he was a kitten)

Nowhere on the packaging is there any warning that this stuff may have an adverse effect on the animal except in this first aid treatment area hidden away in small print. By then it's too late to decide that you don't want to risk your animal's health by rubbing something potentially dangerous into his or her skin. The last thing you want when you think you've done something good for your pet is to see its hair start falling out in clumps

A warning is something you put on packaging that a person can see so that they can make a considered decision. It's not something you bury in small print under first aide treatment. Especially when earlier on they tell you to make sure not to let the pet take the medication internally, or to keep it away from their eyes and genitalia. You'll think that the first aid treatment is for that eventuality– not in the event of something happening they haven't warned you about.

They don't even tell you what form the sensitivity could take. When do we need to seek help from a veterinarian? When all their hair falls out, when a little clump of hair falls out, when their skin turns pink, or when their hair takes on the texture of someone who’s done one too many home permanents and burnt their hair so that it feels like straw?

Wellmark International, formally known as Zoecon is the manufacturer of this and other insecticides that are used for everything from mosquito larvae control to the fleas on your pet. In a world where we are gradually starting to ban pesticides for their known toxicity and dangers to the planet, don't you think that a company that provides products to consumers that contains those toxins should be forced to warn them properly?

What would it cost them to print in legible lettering on the front of the package something to the effect of: Some animals have more sensitive skin than others – your cat may not be right for this product. Is that too hard? Think of all good will that would generate, and all the ill feelings it would prevent.

I bought Zodiac Spot On as an attempt to provide my cats some relief from a problem and have ended up causing them to develop problems. There is something wrong with that equation. That needs to change.

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.