A DOG'S LIFE with Anna Webb: Pet Flea and Worm treatments are contaminating our rivers
Highly toxic insecticides used on cats and dogs to kill fleas are poisoning rivers across England. This discovery is ‘extremely concerning for water insects, the fish and the birds that depend on them.
This study from the University of Sussex has revealed that the insecticide fipronil is in 99% of samples from 20 rivers and the average level of one particularly toxic breakdown product of the insecticide was 38 times above the safety limit.
My former Vet (now retired) Andrew Prentis joined me on A DOG’S LIFE in his new role as an Environmental Advisor, and head of Vets Sustain a voluntary organisation lobbying the veterinary industry to be more sustainable.
Unquestionably he concurred that this study highlighted a massive concern. As insecticides including Fipronil were banned two years ago from the farming industry, the only reason such levels of Fipronil were discovered is from pet flea treatments.
Andrew explained that with around 10 million dogs receiving monthly treatments, chemicals get washed down our drains and end up in our waterways.
From bathing the dog, washing our hands after applying the treatment, residues will attach to clothing, bedding, and they're washed away into our precious rivers.
With over 66 licensed flea and worm treatments available, many are bought online. Arguably to make them prescription only from your vet could reduce the number of applications. This is standard practice in Denmark.
It’s not just fipronil causing potential environmental disaster, another popular insecticide used in many products is Imachloride, which is known to kill bees. But its wormers as well as flea treatments that are as damaging potentially. Either used a topical application or as a pill, eventually the latter will weave its way into landfill and penetrate through the soil.
Andrew also confirmed that: “ Fipronil is one of the most common insecticides used and the issue is it degrade into compounds that are more toxic to insects that fipronil itself!”
He added that Vets sustain is all about educating the vet profession to be more sustainable at all levels not least encouraging the mantra “Test Before You Treat”. That’s for worms with an easy worm count test that also tests for lungworm. That’s Titre Testing before you routinely annually vaccinate, and with fleas to regularly comb through your pets, and keep their environment super flea free with a raft of natural alternative sprays even using diatomaceous earth as a natural flea powder that works by suffocating the bugs, but saving the wider environment.