New resource to guide pet owners on responsible use of parasiticides

Resource unveiled ahead of dedicated BVA Live session on parasite control for dogs and cats

A brand-new resource pack is now available to help vets talk about the responsible use of parasiticides for dogs and cats with clients, ensuring any negative impacts to pets, people and the planet are minimised. 

The British Veterinary Association (BVA), British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS) have collaborated to create a suite of client-facing communications including a leaflet, posters and a slideshow which can be displayed in practice waiting rooms.

With BVA research showing almost all (98%) companion animal vets are concerned about the impact of parasiticides on the environment, the veterinary associations are particularly keen to highlight the importance of using these products carefully, applying a risk-based approach, to help minimise environmental risks while still protecting animal and human health and welfare.

BVA Senior Vice President Justine Shotton said: “Parasiticides are important products when it comes to preventing and treating parasites. But it is important to remember the effect they can have if not used responsibly. New research from Imperial College London recently highlighted how chemicals used in parasiticides are being found in urban waterways, often in high enough levels to potentially cause harm, which is really worrying.  Using them responsibly and educating clients around appropriate use is a real step in the right direction to help protect pets themselves, their owners, and the environment. We hope these resources will be useful tools to help vets to start conversations with clients to communicate how vital it is to use them appropriately and highlight the simple steps they can take to do so.” 

A dedicated session exploring how to use parasiticides for cats and dogs safely is part of this year’s Clinical Theatre 1 programme at BVA Live, which takes place on May 11 – 12 at the NEC in Birmingham. Ticked off! Controlling parasites in dogs and cats,with Clinical Director of Chipping Norton Veterinary Hospital Martin Whitehead, will touch on whether year-round preventative treatment with parasiticides is necessary for most dogs and cats in the UK. It will explore the benefits of a risk-based approach and how the veterinary professions can begin to take this on board.

The guidance

To help protect the planet, the resources advise clients to:

  • Discuss treatment options with their vet to minimise environmental risks.
  • Check instructions before their pet is washed or goes swimming as the medicine can wash off and stop working, as well as risk harm to wildlife and the environment.
  • Dispose of packaging safely and return unused products to their vet.
  • Always pick up their pet’s poo and dispose of it responsibly.

To help protect pets, owners are urged to:

  • Only use the products for the animal they are prescribed for.
  • Always use the right product for the intended species.
  • Always follow veterinary advice on frequency of treatments.
  • Take care when applying spot-on treatment to pets, avoiding their eyes, ears and mouth, and ensuring other animals can’t lick or groom them.

To help keep people safe, the resources advise owners to:

  • Avoid contact between the product and their own skin, mouth, and eyes.
  • Not to stroke or groom their pet until spot-on treatments are dry.
  • Check that they are not sensitive to any of the ingredients before use.
  • Seek medical advice if any adverse reactions occur.

BSAVA President Alison Speakman said: “BSAVA is pleased to support the development of these important resources to emphasise that alongside the benefits of appropriate parasite control for pet health, we should give full consideration to a ‘One Health’ risk-benefit consideration that suitably protects pets, people, and our vulnerable environment.” 

BVZS President Stuart Patterson said: “We do not yet know the full effects of veterinary parasiticides being found in our waterways, but as a profession it is prudent that we have thoroughly evaluated the way in which we use them, for the benefit of all. We are fortunate in the modern products that we have available to us, and BVZS are keen to support their continued use in a manner which minimises environmental impact, whilst maximising the safety of our pets and their owners.”

The resources are the latest issued by BVA, BSAVA and BVZS since their joint policy position ‘Responsible use of parasiticides for cats and dogs’ which aims to address concerns such as the impact such medicines are having on the environment, and recommended that vets should always take a proportionate, targeted and responsible approach to the use of small animal parasiticides and carefully weigh up all risks before prescribing or recommending treatment.

Vets are also encouraged to make use of a previous resource, a poster released last year entitled: ‘Responsible use of parasiticides for cats and dogs: The five-point plan’, produced for  display in practices, offering tips on how to adapt the use of parasiticides in practice.

Download the resources here.