What are the Dangers of Frontline for Cats?

Written by jennifer jean miller
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Frontline is an effective medicinal treatment for flea and tick control for cats. It is a lotion applied once a month between a cat's shoulder blades. It comes in various formulas and is said to stop flea and tick outbreaks at various stages, from the larval to the actual stages. But with any medicine, there are possibilities of side effects and dangers with use.

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Active Ingredients

Healthy cats over the age of 12 weeks can receive a Frontline treatment. It contains what is known Fipronil, which is a topical insecticide. Frontline Plus has an additional ingredient, Methoprene, as an insect growth regulator (IGR), which controls the growth of flea eggs and larvae.

There can be dangers to cats when Frontline is used for flea treatment.
There can be dangers to cats when Frontline is used for flea treatment.

Analysis of Fipronil

A 2002 document published by Belvoir Publications analysed the chemical content of various "spot on" applications (see Resources). According to the article, Fipronil, one of the active ingredients in Frontline, has caused thyroid cancer in laboratory animals. In other laboratory studies, the animals tested had damage to their nervous and reproductive systems. They also suffered skin problems including chemical burns and hair loss at the site of application.

Analysis of Methoprene

In the same 2002 document, Methoprene was reported to cause liver enlargement. It was also classified as a neurotoxin, which can cause headaches, throat irritation, difficulty breathing, dizziness and nausea.

Danger to Animals and Humans

Insecticides can pose a danger to animals and humans. People are cautioned from touching the area where the Frontline is applied on their cat for up to 24 hours. The area may appear wet, and it's part of the normal application process. If you touch the area, wash the area on yourself with which you touched it immediately with soap and water. The Attorney General of the New York State Environmental Protection Bureau remarked in 2002 about the use of pesticides, "We do not know the identity of the chemicals to which we are exposed."

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has been promoted as a possible alternative to insecticides, such as Frontline. Before spraying, the EPA recommends a program of monitoring and identifying pests and then preventing them. Prevention can be weeding or ensuring lawns or woods where cats may wander (if allowed outdoors) are properly maintained from overgrowth.

A small clove of garlic given to a cat a day can keep the fleas away.
A small clove of garlic given to a cat a day can keep the fleas away.

Bring on the Garlic and Yeast

Garlic and nutritional yeast powder have been considered a non-toxic flea control alternative. The increase in B vitamins is a deterrent to fleas. Cats should be fed no more than a teaspoon of the yeast powder and a small clove of garlic daily (see Resources). Any more in excess may cause anaemia.

Cats which should never be given Frontline

Should you opt for Frontline or Frontline Plus for flea control, never give it to sick, elderly, pregnant or nursing cats, or kittens under the age of 12 weeks.

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