A Dog's Life with Anna Webb joined by Dr Andrew Prentis on Flea insecticides poisoning British Waterways


Vet and Environmental campaigner, Andrew Prentis is also  a ‘fellow’ at Imperial College. He is amongst the team of scientists that have advised pet owners to be more sparing in their use of toxic flea and tick treatments, warning that they are entering watercourses and damage aquatic ecosystems.


Reviewing 160 scientific papers on the impact on aquatic ecosystems of imidacloprid, a pesticide used in 138 pet treatments sold in the UK. They found that “one monthly flea treatment for a large dog contains enough imidacloprid to kill 25 million bees".  


In the decade up to 2019, the sale of the pesticide for veterinary use in the UK increased 152 per cent. In that year, 2,500kg of the substance were sold for veterinary use, not much less than the 4,000kg used in 2014 for combined agricultural and veterinary use.


We discuss how we can change our approach to parasite control in our pets by adopting a Test Before You Treat approach that’s used in Scandinavia where Vets only prescribe treatments if an animal actually has fleas. Certainly where wormers are also concerned (similarly penetrating waterways and the landscape), there’s an easy alternative simply by testing your pet’s poop.


If no worms are found, why give your dog a wormer? One of the sticking points of the discussion is that the market for parasite control in the vet industry is valued at £170 million.  We chat about how practices could recoup this revenue in other proactive ways.

 Tune into the episode here