Adams "Plus" Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats

Risk Level: 
Use sparingly and avoid if pregnant or around young childrenUse sparingly and avoid if pregnant or around young children

Flea and tick shampoo for dogs and cats

Pyrethrins -- 

Pyrethrins are compounds derived from pyrethrum, an extract of the chrysanthemum flower. Pyrethrins, like many other insecticides, inhibit the functioning of the nervous system of pests and can be toxic to the human nervous system as well. Additionally, they can cause allergic reactions and exacerbate asthma. They are typically used with another compound (usually piperonyl butoxide) which inhibits the enzyme that would normally inactivate the pyrethrins, potentially increasing the toxicity. EPA classifies pyrethrins as "Suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity but not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential." [source] Signs of pyrethin poisoning may include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, chest pain or difficulty breathing. [source] Pyrethrins are listed as a least-toxic chemical control in the Fall 2006 Integrated Pest Management Practitioner.

  • Possible carcinogen
  • Toxic to the nervous system
  • Linked to asthma and allergies
  • Very toxic to cats
S-Methoprene -- 

S-Methoprene is an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR), meaning that it halts the growth of chitin, the substance that creates the exoskeleton in insects. IGRs are effective against developing insects but not against adult insects with already developed exoskeletons. Because of this, IGRs are used to prevent an extended infestation. Since mammals do not produce chitin, insect growth regulators have little effect on humans. According to EPA S-Methoprene has a very low acute toxicity. [source]

S-Methoprene is listed as a least-toxic chemical control by the Integrated Pest Management Practitioner. It is listed on City and County of San Francisco Integrated Pest Management Program 2007 Reduced-Risk Pesticide List. [source] And it is listed on EcoWise Certified IPM Program Materials List.

  • Safer chemical -- however, all pesticides should be used with caution and in consultation with a veterinarian.
Piperonyl Butoxide (PBO) -- 

Piperonyl Butoxide is an insecticide synergist which is combined with other insecticides to increase the effectiveness of the chemical by slowing its breakdown, and therefore increasing the time it is in its toxic form. [source] This also increases the time that the chemicals last in pets and people, and thus increases their ability to do damage.  A large dose of PBO may temporarily make other toxic chemicals less able to be tolerated when people are exposed.  PBO is a common component of insecticide formulations with pyrethrins and a number of pyrethroids, including permethrin and tetramethrin products.  A study found an association between prenatal exposure to PBO exposure and delays in neurodevelopment. [source] PBO is also classified as a possible carcinogen (EPA Group C). [source]

  • Possible human carcinogen
  • Toxic to the developing nervous system
Safer Alternatives: 
  • Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
  • Vacuum the home once a week. Empty the vacuum bag and dispose its contents.
  • Comb daily with a fine-toothed flea comb and rinse the comb teeth in hot, soapy water between strokes.
  • Look for repellent sprays made with essential oils of lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary or thyme.
  • For severe problems that require chemical intervention, look for lower risk products such as those using Pyriproxyfen, Nitenpyram, Spinosad, S-Methoprene, or Lufenuron as the active ingredient. 
  • For more tips on safer flea and tick management, see How to Control Fleas and Ticks Without Chemicals.