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EPA's Regulation of Flea and Tick Products

There are many EPA-registered pesticide products on the market today to treat your pets for fleas and ticks. The types of pesticides registered for flea and tick control on dogs or cats include:
  • shampoos
  • collars
  • dust or powder
  • sprays
  • spot-on products

Spot-on flea and tick products are liquid pesticides applied to a "spot" on the pet's skin, usually around the back of the neck or shoulder area.

No flea and tick products are marketed specifically for use on reptiles, rabbits, ferrets, and other furry pets. Ask your veterinarian for advice on treating fleas and ticks on these and other exotic pets.

When used according to label instructions and precautions, pet products can be very effective, but when misapplied or not used according to directions, your pets may be unnecessarily exposed to pesticides and could become ill. 

Protect your pets from pests and potential pesticide risks by following product label directions and understanding the precautions.

EPA is responsible for ensuring that all pesticides sold in the United States do not cause unreasonable risks when they are used according to label directions and precautions. 

EPA assesses all pet pesticide treatments, including spot-on products. Our reviews:

  • Assess exposure through skin contact for adults (dermal assessment)
  • Evaluate exposure by skin contact and by mouth for children (dermal and oral assessments)
  • Assess exposure through breathing in the chemicals from pet pesticide treatments, on a case-by-case basis (inhalation assessment)
  • Estimate the amount of applied pesticide that can transfer from the animal to the child's skin from hugging or otherwise contacting a treated animal

All evaluations are based upon assumptions about contact with pets and pesticide transfer to the persons exposed that are designed to overestimate potential exposure. Based on these estimates, we ensure that children are protected from exposure to pesticides on pets that have been treated.

Remember that pesticides on your pets can be transferred to your children. Protect your pets and children by carefully following the label directions and precautions.

Every EPA-registered pesticide product has an EPA registration number on its packaging. If evidence arises to challenge the safety of a registered pesticide product, EPA reviews scientific data and other information and takes action if necessary to reduce or eliminate the risks.

In spring 2009, we noticed an increase in pet incidents being reported involving spot-on pesticide products for pets. EPA received a large amount of information on individual reported adverse pet incidents from the companies that hold registrations for these products. We also reviewed other information that was submitted.

Following this review, we began working with the product manufacturers to implement a suite of protective measures to reduce risks to pets from use of these products.

Learn more about the review and the changes to product labels that are underway.