by Joan Dillon
This question came to us from a New Hampshire subscriber who was concerned because of an article that appeared in a Vermont Greyhound advocacy group’s newsletter. The article told of the death of a Greyhound, supposedly from an adverse reaction to Advantage™.
In order to respond to this question, we consulted several sources.
The first was a listing on the Internet Greyhound List by Stacy Pober. She obtained from Bayer a copy of their Technical Profile on Advantage™ that contained the results of their Dog Safety Study: General Safety Evaluation in Greyhound Breed of Dogs. This report states:
“Twelve Greyhounds (3 male and 9 female) were used in a study to evaluate the safety of Advantage™ solution applied topically to this breed of dogs. Four dogs received Advantage™ solution at the labeled dosage rate (2.5 mL for dogs 21-55 lbs or 5 ml for dogs weighing over 55 lbs) at 14 day intervals for 2 months; 4 dogs received 3X the labeled dosage rate at 14 day intervals for 2 months and 4 dogs served as controls and received an equivalent volume of blank vehicle at 14 day intervals for 2 months. Advantage™ and the blank vehicle were applied by parting the hair of the dog between the shoulder blades and applying the solution on the skin. Parameters evaluated included evidence for dermal irritation and clinical observations for adverse reactions.
“Body weights were maintained. No clinical signs or evidence of dermal irritation at the site were observed. No adverse trends developed in the clinical parameters.
“The findings of this domestic animal safety study indicate no adverse effects in Greyhound breed of dogs following 3X the labeled dosage rate and twice the labeled frequency of retreatment.”
We also solicited responses from veterinarians who specialize in treating Greyhounds. One of these veterinarians is Neal C. Andelman, V.M.D. who practices at West Bridge Veterinary Hospital in West Bridgewater, Mass. Dr. Andelman has many Greyhounds in his practice, both racers and pets. He has served as a consultant to the Greyhound industry and has assisted GPA/Mass. with their spay/neuter program for many years. His response is as follows:
“Before we started to use Advantage™ at our hospital for flea control this year (1997), we contacted the manufacturer (Bayer) and asked if they had any experience with Advantage™ in Greyhounds. There had been Greyhounds treated during the clinical trials with no adverse effects, and as of this spring there had been no adverse drug reactions related to Advantage™ in Greyhounds reported either to the FDA or Bayer. We have a considerable number of Greyhounds in our practice on Advantage™ and have had no report of adverse reactions.
“I have no knowledge of the Vermont ‘incident,’ nor do I know how the conclusion was reached that the problem was due to Advantage™. I assume that any veterinarian making such a claim would have completed an ‘adverse drug reaction’ report and filed that report with either Bayer or the FDA.
“Not being a pharmacologist I cannot comment on the safety of the drug, but it has been our clinical experience that it is a safe drug to use in this breed.”
A second veterinarian who responded was Rodger Barr, D.V.M. of Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital in Coon Rapids, Minn. Dr. Barr has been an owner of racing Greyhounds and for many years operated the only Greyhound adoption program in his area. His response is as follows:
“In response to your note on the product Advantage™, I personally, in my practice and in my personal situation, have not had any problem with Advantage™. The only difficulty I have is in application in the short dense-coated Greyhounds. Occasionally we’ll have a local area of irritation where the product is applied but never have had any unexpected reactions.
“I doubt that anybody could interpret the death of a Greyhound or any dog to an allergic reaction due to Advantage™. There are so many things that could cause these allergic reactions that it is hard to pinpoint and somebody could have drawn that conclusion. I believe that both Advantage™ and Frontline™, and Program™ for that matter, are extremely safe products for use on Greyhounds. I guess my rule of thumb is that, if you can use it on cats, it is generally safe on Greyhounds.
“We have used virtually thousands of doses on Greyhound breeds and have not had a problem. On the other hand, in a racing kennel situation, I think that there is occasionally a situation where the animals’ performance seems to suffer, but anything can cause the animals to perform differently, even a trainer wearing the wrong clothing. Advantage™ is a perfectly safe product.”
Like humans who are allergic to penicillin, a few dogs can also have allergies to some substances. If your dog appears to have a reaction to any particular substance, discontinue its use immediately and report the incident to your veterinarian.
CG W 97
Ed note: As of 2012 many more flea products have come on the market. There is nothing wrong with using Advantage but the reader would probably do better with newer products developed after 1997.