USA Today reported a link between a flea and tick collar and nearly 1,700 pet deaths in the last seven year.
This Tuesday’s investigation revealed that Seresto collars for cats and dogs have inflicted injury on tens to thousands of animals as well as hundreds of victims.
The report relied on documents acquired through a public-records request, which revealed that more than 75,000 Seresto-collar-related incidents were reported to the Environmental Protection Agency between 2012 and June 2020. Many of the cases involved pets who had allergic reactions to the collar touching their fur. Some animals had seizures.
There were more than 900 cases involving humans. The report identified one case in which a 12-year-old boy was admitted to hospital with severe vomiting and seizures after he slept with his collar-wearing canine.
The EPA regulates pesticides-containing products but has not given warnings to consumers about potential hazards. Karen McCormack is a former EPA employee who stated to USA Today the Seresto collars have the highest pesticide pet product incidents.
She said that “The EPA seems to be turning a blindeye” to this problem. After seven years of an increase in incidents, the EPA is now telling the public that it will continue to monitor the situation.
Insider was informed by an EPA spokesperson, that they take “every incident” seriously and will review the data to determine if further action is needed.
The spokesperson stated that “EPA urges pet owners to carefully read the label before applying the pesticide product to their pet. This includes monitoring your pet after application to determine if any side effects have occurred.” “If side effects occur, the label advises that the consumer consult their veterinarian immediately.
‘Plastic impregnated by insecticides’
Bayer Pharmaceuticals developed the Seresto collars, which were then sold by Elanco (a US-based pharma company).
A small dog in a bar, 2019.Andrew Hasson/Getty
Keri McGrath, Elanco’s spokeswoman, stated to Insider that there was no evidence linking pet deaths and exposure to active ingredients in Seresto collars. The product was approved by the EPA for use in March 2012 and is safe for dogs and cats over seven weeks of age.
McGrath stated that USA Today’s investigation revealed that McGrath was wrongly misleading the article and left out key information. “The numbers cited in the original article reflect the number received reports and do not indicate causality.
McGrath said that a report is not an indication to cause. McGrath also stated that “if any dog was wearing a collar, and experiences any kind of adverse event, the collar will be mentioned in a report.”
The EPA reported the Seresto collars were made from plastic, which has been treated with insecticides over a long period of time and coated the animal’s hair. These insecticides include flumethrin which repels and kills insects and imidacloprid which targets fleas.
Bayer conducted a 2012 study and found that the two insecticides had a synergistic effect, making them more toxic to fleas when used together.
USA Today spoke with Nathan Donley, a senior scientist from the Center for Biological Diversity. He said that the “synergistic impact” is likely to apply to animals as well. The nonprofit center filed the public-records requests.
Donley stated, “For whatever reason this combination is just really horrible.”
Although neither insecticide is considered harmful to pets nor people by the EPA, neonicotinoids can be linked to bee death around the world so some states have banned their use.
McGrath claimed that more than 80 regulatory agencies around the globe have “rigorously inspected” the pet collar’s safety data since Seresto is a global product.
“He could not walk without yelping in pain.”
Seresto flea-collars for dogs rank among the top products on Amazon as well as other sites like Chewy.com. USA Today discovered Bayer had $300 million in revenues from Seresto products for 2019.
Amazon has rated the collars 4.5 stars, but customers left negative reviews detailing their pets’ reactions. Many customers used rashes to treat their dogs’ necks and backs.
One user said her dog’s behavior was different after she wore the collar for 2 weeks.
He was unable to walk without pain and extremely lethargic. The symptoms began to subside within 24 hours after the Seresto collar was removed,” she wrote.
Another user wrote about how their Boston Terrier had an adverse reaction to the collar being on for a day.
A dog in Tokyo, Japan in December 2013 – scratching its neckTakashi Hososhima/Wikimedia Commons
McGrath indicated that less than one percent of collar users submitted incident reports in 2020.
“The vast majority of these incidents involve non-serious effects like application site issues — reddening the skin or hair fall below the collar,” she stated.
Donley said that USA Today has reported a few incidents with Seresto. Because any pet owner has reported a problem to the EPA, they have first identified a link between the collar, their pet, and reported it via phone or online.
Donley stated that “EPA has done nothing to warn the public there might be an issue, it strikes me as bordering on criminal.”