Dogs & Cats Caught in the Middle of a Regulatory Battle

May 30, 2013

Dogs, cats, families, pet parents and veterinarians are getting caught in the middle of a fight between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the makers of mouse and rat poison (rodenticides). Here’s why:

In 2008 EPA issued final risk mitigation reforms addressing rodenticides.  The changes, which were enacted in 2011, called for changes in the packaging and formulation of rodenticides.  Some of these changes looked good for pet protection and some of them didn’t look so good. To add to the mix, one of the largest producers of rodenticides, d-Con  is challenging EPA.

The packaging change requires that all rodenticides be sold in bait stations rather than being available in pellet or block form. For dogs, cats, and families this seems like a good change and the folks at DVM magazine agree.  However, d-Con is fighting this change. According to d-Con, rats will actually avoid bait in a bait box but dogs don’t!  The company maintains that forcing sales in bait stations won’t protect pets – specifically dogs – and will make rat infestations worse. On this issue you’ve got dogs, cats, pet parents and veterinarians siding with EPA against the manufacturer.

On the formulation issue these sides flip with dogs, cats, pet parents and veterinarians more aligned with the manufacturer than with EPA. EPA’s change in formulation requires manufactureres to stop using “long-acting anticoagulants” in products for residential use. Faced with the ban, most manufacturers have switched to using bromethalin as the active ingredient in mouse and rat bait. As horrible as exposing a dog, cat or child to the old poison was, the old poison generally required multiple exposures to be effective, was slower acting AND had an antidote – vitamin K.

The newer formulation is meant to be effective with a single exposure, is faster acting AND has neither a diagnostic test nor an antidote. This means you may not know what your dog, cat or kid was exposed to and even if you did know there isn’t anything you can do about it. On this issue dogs, cats, pet parents, veterinarians and manufacturers are together fighting against EPA.

So, where does it go from here? Frankly, we don’t know.  This is the first time in 20 years that a manufacturer has challenged EPA’s cancellation of a pesticide based on harm to the environment and d-Con is the only manufacturer from the 30 or so impacted that is challenging EPA. In addition, there are arguments in favor of the new formulation even with the concerns raised above: specifically, the new formulation should have less impact on animals that eat mice or rats that have died from eating rodenticides.

We’ll keep you posted on how things progress on this issue, but no matter where things go here’s some pretty basic advice:

1. It’s best not to use any poison any time anywhere if there is a non-poison alternative.
2. If you have to use poison don’t use it near your pets or kids.
3. If you have to use poison follow the instructions! Don’t open bait boxes. Use as little as possible and as soon as you’ve solved your problem remove and properly dispose of any remaining poison.

Thanks for reading!

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