NOAH response to the BVA, BSAVA and BVZS policy position on responsible use of parasiticides for cats and dogs
NOAH has produced an initial response to the BVA, BSAVA and BVZS policy position on responsible use of parasiticides for cats and dogs. We will be reviewing the document in more detail in due course.
NOAH fully agrees that vets should always take a proportionate, targeted and responsible approach to the use of small animal parasiticides and carefully weigh up all risks and benefits before prescribing or recommending treatment. It is important that vets take into account all the relevant scientific evidence as well as the existing and carefully thought through guidance from leading parasitologists.
NOAH also agrees veterinary professionals should avoid blanket treatment. It is important to differentiate between blanket treatment and legitimate and necessary treatment use for prevention purposes. Preventive use has a very important place for those parasites which are present all year round and for pets that are at risk of exposure to these. The consequences of failing to prevent certain parasites can have a high cost, not only to pets and their welfare, but also to pet owners due to the distress caused, with possible consequences for the human-animal bond, which has proven particularly beneficial in recent times. A failure to prevent disease can also have a further negative impact on human health, as some of these parasites, or the diseases they carry, can also infect people. While flea infestations peak in summer and autumn, the European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) UK and Ireland, state in their Guidelines for the Control of Ectoparasites in Dogs and Cats, that flea infestation can occur throughout the year and that year-round flea control is sometimes necessary. Factors such as milder winters associated with climate change and the widespread use of modern central heating systems help to ensure that ectoparasite infestations can occur all year round.
NOAH would like to reinforce once again that as with all veterinary medicines, prescribers and users of these products should use them responsibly, and advice and warnings on labels and leaflets should be followed. All veterinary medicines, including those for companion animals, must undergo a regulatory-specified assessment of their environmental impact to demonstrate their impact, if any, on the environment is acceptable and managed. Included in this is advice around disposal of products and advice relating to bathing of dogs or allowing them access to waterways after treatment, all of which should be noted and followed closely. It is also important that periods of protection e.g. against ticks, on labels are understood and adhered to. The protection period is based on studies and considers the latest timepoint at which the required level of protection is met. It is the regulatory authority, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), that decides on which protection period can be specified on the labelling, not the animal health company who market it. If the interval between treatments is extended beyond what is required by the regulatory authorities (VMD) on the licence then the efficacy of the product cannot be guaranteed, and lapses in parasite protection could occur with the possibility of poor parasite control as a result. We are seriously concerned by the suggestion that treatment intervals be arbitrarily extended and wish to remind veterinary surgeons of their fundamental responsibility to adhere to legally approved and defined product labels when prescribing.
NOAH supports science and continued research into the risks and benefits of effective control of parasites that are potentially dangerous to animals and people alike.