Friday March 5th, 2021 Water Blog

Paws for Thought


If you haven’t already got a dog in your life then you need one! I for one have 2 rescues, a beautiful hound called Bonnie and a corgi jack Russell mix called Buddy. Both rule the roost however they are so much fun and have kept me sane throughout the past year. They love their routine and walks each day. I take them out a few local places and I’m lucky enough to live near the beach, so they get the odd dip when its not too cold!

I came across an article in this week’s Country Life Magazine [1] where there is huge concern around the ingredients used in dog flea doses. These are know as insecticides and kill any fleas that maybe living in your dogs coat. I’ve given plenty of flea doses over the years to my dogs by applying it to the back of the neck in between the two shoulder blades so it literally sits on their coat. Not for one second did I think of the consequences or the ingredients that the dose is made up of.

The main ingredients in flea does are fipronil and imidacloprid.

According to a study carried out by (Gibbons, Morrissey and Mineau, 2015) [2] showed that “Imidacloprid and fipronil were found to be toxic to many birds and most fish, respectively. All three insecticides exert sub-lethal effects, ranging from genotoxic and cytotoxic effects, and impaired immune function, to reduced growth and reproductive success, often at concentrations well below those associated with mortality”.

A recent survey carried in Germany, working across 62 nature reserves since 1989, found the annual average insect numbers fell by 76% over their 27-year study period, but in summer, the drop was even more extreme – by 82%, when insect numbers should be at their peak [4]

Could flea doses be attributing to this decline? There currently is no regulation, policy or even communication to dog owners like myself around these chemicals and the impact they can have on our local ecosystems. We also need to ask the question to vets, how prevalent are fleas in dogs and do we need monthly, annual or even any doses at all?


[1] Country Life Magazine – Issue No. 8 –  February 24th 2021

[2] Gibbons, D., Morrissey, C. and Mineau, P. (2015) ‘A review of the direct and indirect effects of neonicotinoids and fipronil on vertebrate wildlife’, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 22(1), pp. 103–118. doi: 10.1007/s11356-014-3180-5

[3] Where have all the insects gone? – Biodiversity Ireland


By Ruth Clinton – Water Innovation Officer .

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Brian Mac Domhnaill
    March 22, 2021 11:20 am

    A really interesting piece. Is it ok to use this in Rural Water News magazine Ruth/Fióna and, if so, who should be credited?


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