Advantage is a popular flea killer for household pets. Its active ingredient is imidacloprid, which is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a general-use pesticide. Advantage kills fleas on contact by disrupting their nervous system. As with all pesticides, humans should take care to minimize contact with the skin when administering Advantage to their pets.
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Benefits of Advantage for pets
Pet owners are understandably eager to keep their pets and their household free of fleas, which can carry health dangers and can be difficult to eradicate. Consumers can now choose from an array of effective, easy to use pet flea-control products that were once only available through veterinarians, and these are easier and more effective than spraying for fleas in the house.
Advantage is just one of many products now found in grocery stores, pharmacies, and large retailers that kills fleas on contact. Other products to prevent flea infestations include flea collars and medicines. If you're already experiencing an infestation, using veterinarian-recommended flea shampoos and at-home remedies can help eradicate adult fleas and flea larvae.
One of the best and safest flea treatments for cats and dogs is a topical flea treatment that is applied to your pet's skin (typically on the back) once a month. Advantage is one kind of topical flea treatment; it's an insecticide that is applied to your dog or cat's skin once a month to prevent flea infestations. It's a popular choice for pet owners because it takes a short amount of time to apply and only has to be applied once a month.
How Advantage works in pets
Each brand of flea control might use a different active ingredient. In Advantage, this active ingredient is imidacloprid. Imidacloprid interferes with insects' nervous systems, causing a blockage that eventually leads to an overabundance of a particular neurotransmitter. This causes paralysis and then death.
It does not have the same immediate, toxic effect on humans because of differences in the nervous system. However, some people have reported side effects from using Advantage.
Symptoms of flea treatment poisoning in humans
In general, symptoms of flea treatment poisoning in humans are caused by insecticide ingredients, like imidacloprid, which is an active ingredient in Advantage.
Some pet owners have reported side effects after having contact with Advantage. Pet owners have reported that contact with imidacloprid can cause skin irritation. Farm workers working with imidacloprid have reported skin or eye irritation, dizziness, breathlessness, and vomiting. The EPA has decided that there's no evidence that imidacloprid causes cancer based on animal studies.
Advantage II for cats and Advantage II for dogs both include another active ingredient — less than 1 percent of pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator that's commonly used in flea and tick products. Pyriproxyfen is considered to be low in toxicity and shouldn't irritate your skin.
Unknown risks of using Advantage
It is not just the active ingredient in Advantage, imidacloprid, that can have toxic effects. All flea-control medications have active and inert ingredients. The EPA registers the active ingredients, like imidacloprid, after rigorous testing. The same comprehensive testing is not mandated for inert ingredients, and flea-control product makers are not required to list those ingredients individually on labels even though many are toxic. Undisclosed ingredients could have unknown risks.
How to safely use Advantage
Your best protection against any harmful side effects from Advantage is to avoid contact, so always wear gloves when applying it. Wash your hands immediately after using the product and before eating so you don't ingest any chemicals.
If you do come in contact with Advantage and experience side effects, you should contact a physician or go to a clinic for medical attention immediately. Always read the instructions on the label and follow any included first-aid instructions. You can also call the toll-free poison helpline through the Health Resources and Services Administration at 1-800-222-1222.