We seek tick and flea protection for our pets because ticks and fleas both annoy our pets and can carry serious diseases that affect our pets and us. However, many tick and flea collars seen in stores contain TCVP – a dangerous chemical that presents serious health risks to our pets, children, and ourselves.
You can protect your family and your pets by avoiding products that contain TCVP and practicing safe flea and tick prevention habits, including recognizing situations where you may expose your pets to fleas and ticks. If you or your child experiences a negative health outcome from a flea collar containing TCVP, there are steps you can take to seek help, report the incident, and minimize any future harm to the wider community.
What is TCVP and how do pet products containing TCVP put me at risk?
Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP) is a chemical commonly used in pet products to kill fleas and ticks. TCVP kills these pests, but also may be extremely dangerous for pets and their owners, especially young children and pregnant women. Thousands of pets have been harmed by this pesticide. And, even small amounts of exposure can cause irreversible harm to a child’s brain development and increase the risk of learning disabilities. Symptoms of TCVP may include nausea, vomiting, wheezing, or more severely, muscle twitching, seizures, respiratory paralysis, and death.
When used as intended, a pet flea collar with TCVP leaves residue on a pet’s fur and skin. This residue can stay on your pet’s body for weeks even after the flea collar is removed, and the residue can be transferred to furniture and bedding and anyone who pets the animal.
This toxic residue is absorbed through people’s skin as they pet their animal or expose themselves to contaminated areas. Children, whose developing brains are at the greatest risk from TCVP, are more likely to ingest the chemicals by putting their hands in their mouths and playing on the floor where pets leave the most residue. Prenatal exposure to TCVP is also possible, and can lead to behavioral deficits, motor deficits, and cognitive deficits like memory and IQ deficits in children.
Flea collars containing TCVP transform the simple act of playing with pets into an extremely dangerous activity. Yet, the labels on these products often do not warn pet owners of these serious health risks.
How do I identify pet products with TCVP so I can avoid them?
- Consumers can avoid harmful pet products with TCVP by looking out for the following:Tick and flea prevention pet collars, dusts or powders, and liquid sprays, which often contain TCVP. These products are commonly found at Walmart, Target, grocery stores, such as Giant and Safeway and other retailers in the District, as well as online vendors such as Amazon. Just because a product is on the shelf at your favorite store does not necessarily mean it is always safe to bring home to your family.
- Labels that say, “do not let children play with collar” or “harmful if swallowed or absorbed through skin”, but the labels do not specify the degree of danger and risk of playing with the pets themselves after they are treated with the product.
- The following pet flea and tick products that contain TCVP or other harmful chemicals:
- Hartz Ultra Guard Flea and Tick Collar
- Pet Armor Flea & Tick Collar
- Zodiac Flea and Tick Collar
- Adams Plus Flea & Tick Collar
- Hartz Ultra Guard Flea and Tick Powder
- Hartz Ultra Guard Flea and Tick Spray
- Bio Spot Flea and Tick Collar
- Seresto Flea and Tick Collar
How can I avoid ticks and fleas without using harmful chemicals?
The environmental community such as the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and seasoned pet owners have suggested many safer alternatives for preventing fleas and ticks.
- Pet Grooming: Grooming your pet regularly can be a great way to prevent ticks and fleas. Soap and water can kill adult fleas and combing your pet with a fine-tooth flea comb can remove fleas, flea eggs, and other debris. Also, pests tend to be less attracted to clean animals.
- Targeted House Cleaning: Vacuuming the places your pets like to hang out such as under furniture and their bedding as well as washing your pet’s bed with soap and hot water can get rid of fleas or flea eggs before they hatch. Do not forget to empty the vacuum container outside so the eggs do not hatch in your house.
- Yard Maintenance: If you have a yard, keeping your grass mowed and leaves raked is important as ticks and fleas like to breed in tall grass and leafy areas. Keeping your yard uninhabitable to tick and flea breeding can avoid possible pet exposures to the pests.
- Avoiding Woods or Grassy Areas: If possible, avoid areas with a high risk of tick and flea exposure such as woods and high grass areas.
- Checking for Tick and Flea: Check your pets daily for ticks and fleas, especially after spending time in a high-risk area.
- Pet T-Shirt: This one might not be for everyone, but when entering a high-risk area, you can consider putting a physical barrier, such as a pet T-shirt, on your pet to prevent pests from crawling onto them.
- Talk to Your Vet: If you need more protection beyond the chemical-free strategies above, chemicals in flea and tick products have varying degrees of danger, and you can work with your vet to understand the harms of each one. Flea collars, especially those with TCVP, are amongst the most dangerous. You can ask your vet about prescribing alternatives such as oral flea-prevention treatments.
What should I do if I, my child, or pet have been harmed by chemical-containing pet products?
Upon immediate emergency, call the local poison control center and/or talk to your doctor. Later, you can report it to the National Pesticide Information Center at  858-7378 or email (email@example.com).
Further, you can file a complaint with the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection by calling our hotline at (202) 442-9828, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by writing to the Office of Consumer Protection at the Office of the Attorney General.
You may also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580; (877) 832-4357; www.ftc.gov.