Last year, environmental nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warned pet owners that popular flea collars could be exposing the whole family to dangerous levels of poisons. If that report made you hot under the collar, here's some potentially good news — plus some activist action you can take. NRDC wants you to take a field trip to your nearest PETCO or PetSmart store — and report what you find.

Why? According to Gina Solomon, senior scientist at NRDC, PETCO and PetSmart may have stopped carrying the most dangerous flea and tick products — you know, the ones made with the chemicals propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos, which have been linked to cancer and neurological damage. The companies haven't made any official announcement about getting rid of these products, but NRDC suspects that PETCO and PetSmart are quietly pulling these products from their shelves without admitting fault or warning consumers about potential dangers.

So — print out NRDC's handy checklist (PDF) so you know which worrying products to look for, take your survey, then e-mail the details to Maybe the checkup will show that NRDC's campaign succeded in changing PETCO and PetSmart for the greener!

In the meantime, remember to use NRDC's GreenPaws pocket guide (PDF) when shopping to know which dangerous chemicals to avoid. And if you're wondering why chemicals in flea products can pose health concerns not just for the pet but for the whole family, watch this short video put together by NRDC scientists for an easy-to-understand lesson.

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