You Gotta Have Hartz—But Then Again, Maybe Not

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Newark, NJFor years Hartz Mountain has been a trusted name in pet care, and generations of animal lovers have relied on Hartz flea and tick products and other supplies to maintain the health of their pets. But that all could be changing, as various lawsuits have been filed over the past several months accusing the manufacturer and various defendants of selling "an unreasonably dangerous product," according to one recent suit filed earlier this month in US District Court in Newark, New Jersey.

It is alleged that Hartz flea or tick treatments contained pyrethrin or a synthetic version of the chemical called pyrethroids—substances "known to poison animals," the suit claims. The various actions allege that there were 48,000 adverse reactions from spot-on or squeeze-on products in 2008 alone.

This is not a recent phenomenon, if postings on the blog are any indication. The blog features accounts from pet owners dating back to the fall of 2001, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched an investigation into what was reported to be thousands of cases of pet illnesses and deaths following use of Hartz flea and tick drops.

At the time, Austin veterinarian Dr. Christine Duvall was seeing animals die from what she thought was a bad reaction to over-the-counter flea and tick drops. "Over-the-counter flea products have been a serious problem for a couple of years now and I'm surprised at how long it's taken for things to occur, but now there's finally a lawsuit happening," Duvall told "8 Austin," a media outlet in Texas, on November 30, 2001. "The EPA is finally getting involved and hopefully very soon there'll be something done and possibly pull these products off the shelf."

It was in June 2001 that Josh and Elise Janicek of Austin forwarded their first letter of complaint to Hartz Mountain Corporation: "On Thursday, June 21, 2001 my fiancé and I bought a three month supply of [Hartz Advanced Care Brand Flea and Ticks Drops Plus] from a reputable pet supply store. We applied one tube of the product, as directed, to our cat's back at approximately 12:30 am on Friday, June 22, 2001. I awoke at 7 am that same morning to our cat crying, shaking and delusional. We called our veterinarian immediately and were instructed to wash our cat and bring him in as soon as possible. We followed the vet's instructions and brought him in.

"Our pet was sedated and given intravenous medication throughout the day. The cost for this treatment totaled $88. I have researched and documented numerous instances of this exact same occurrence with other people and their cats. Nowhere on the product's box do you give warning of any reactions."

The EPA, which regulates such products, has seen a "sharp increase in adverse consequences" from them, the most recent lawsuit says. It cites an EPA advisory released last May, updated in January, which states that the products are usually safe for pets, but that owners should "take precautions" when using them.

"Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures, and in some cases, death of the pet," the advisory said.

Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Corp, Summit VetPharm LLC of Rutherford, Morristown-based Bayer Healthcare LLC, Merck & Co. of Whitehouse Station and Sanofi-Aventis Inc. of Bridgewater are named as defendants in suits filed over the last four months. Hartz Mountain Corp and Summit VetPharm LLC are owned by Sumitomo Corporation of America, the New York-based subsidiary of a Japanese trading and investment company.

The products named include Hartz Ultra Guard flea and tick drops and Summit VetPharm's Vectra 3d.

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Reader Comments

Posted by

My dog developed a severe skin problem itching and developed flacks plus some hair would come out after using Hartz flea and tick shampoo the veterinarian gave me medications for my use over counter medications and nothing helped. When I would use the Hartz shampoo he would start breathing very rapid I had to give him aspirin and do another bath with a different shampoo. Plus the shampoo, flea drops and collar did nothing for the fleas. He died this year June 2019 at age of 11years old

Posted by

I was effected by this product myself not a pet ! I put it on my dog in the morning before i went to work . on the way to work I was driving and told my Husband I was unable to Breathe he took me to the hospital where they said i was in respitory failer where they kept me for the remainer of the day. My side effects were short term memory loss and panic attacks I was unable to work for 2 yrs and that almost cost me my home
This is serious what if a child or an elder person came in contact with this thru a dog or cat that is my biggest fear.
Tammy McInnis
270 943 0924

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