Are Spot-on Flea Treatments safe for Humans?

If you’re like me, you hate seeing your pet suffer the pain and discomfort of fleas, not to mention the fact that they bite humans too! Many vets (including the telegenic TV ones) recommend spot-on treatments sold at vet practices or veterinary specialist stores. Spot-on treatments are also widely promoted on social media so the provision of sound safety information on these platforms is of paramount importance.
I decided to road test Advantage which is a popular brand (and the one I use on my cats). Advantage contains Imidacloprid and benzyl alcohol and is classified as a hazardous substance and a dangerous good when transported by sea or air.

Flea treatments

The Safety Data Sheet indicates that Imidacloprid is harmful if inhaled or swallowed and may be irritating to the eyes. However, the instruction leaflet in the Advantage packaging does not advise that protective gloves need to be worn “under normal conditions of use” which is presumed to mean for its domestic use. The labelling contains a caution to keep out of reach of children, to read safety directions and warns that it is “for animal treatment only”.
Applying Advantage is a fiddly business given the small size of the tube and the difficulty in simultaneously holding the cat still, parting the fur to find a small patch of skin and deftly squeezing the liquid contents onto her neck. It’s quite difficult to avoid getting the product on your fingers. It is therefore extremely important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after use.
The liquid is viscous. You often notice that the patch of fur around the squeeze site becomes damp and remains like this for some time. It may therefore be advisable to apply the product when children are out of the house or asleep. I often find myself needing to wash my hands several times after applying the product.

Care is needed in disposing of Advantage as it is classified as an environmentally hazardous substance.