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Tick treatments polluting our rivers

Dog swimming in river.

We are all well aware that the UK’s rivers are polluted. Sewage and agricultural run-off are the main culprits, but there is growing awareness of the impact our dogs are having on river water quality.

Flea and tick treatment is part of keeping dogs healthy. Unfortunately, the parasiticides Imidacloprid and Fipronil, used in spot-on treatments like the billion dose sellingĀ Frontline, are now significant contributors to river pollution. Research completed by Imperial College London shows that one monthly flea treatment for a large dog contains enough imidacloprid to kill 25 million bees! They have a devastating effect on river insects too.

Due to the impact that these chemicals have on pollinating insects, they were banned for agricultural use in 2018, but they are still widely used in veterinary medicines. The chemicals reach rivers via household wastewater, when owners wash their hands after using the treatment, when treated dogs are washed andĀ their pet bedding cleaned, and on Exmoor when dogs jump in rivers and ponds for a swim. This leaves the dilemma of how to look after our dogs without polluting the environment?

We have included some resources below for further reading, but the main thing we can do is keep freshly treated dogs out of rivers, share the message to raise awareness, and research alternative ways to managing our dogs health in an environmentally friendly way.

Imperial College London: Pet treatment pollution of UK rivers

Spring Watch 2024: The impact of flea treatments on UK rivers

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