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Can I Use Dog Flea Prevention on My Cat?

One of the reasons that cats often end up in need of emergency care is simply because of a well-intentioned mistake. Many cat owners have guessed that they could use the same flea and tick prevention on their cat as they can on their small dog. Unless a product has been specifically formulated for both species, this just is not true. Many flea and tick preventatives are highly toxic to cats.

As we are approaching warmer weather and the abundance of fleas and ticks that come with spring, this is important information to share with all those who are owned by cats. An ounce of toxicity prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Pyrethrins Can Be Lethal to Cats

Pyrethrins are the active ingredients in many brands of tick and flea preventatives for dogs and other household insecticides. They are derived from chrysanthemums. Pyrethroids are the synthetic version. Other common names for these substances that might be found on ingredient labels include:

  • Allethrin
  • Deltamethrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Permethrin
  • Cyphenothrin

While pyrethrins have long been used safely on dogs, cats do not metabolize them the same way. This is why cat owners must be very careful not to mix up their cat’s and dog’s medications. It is also a good precaution to separate your dog from his or her kitty friend immediately after application of topical preventative. This is just until it has dried and cannot rub off on the cat.

Symptoms

Become familiar with the symptoms…just in case.

  • Ataxia
  • Facial or ear twitching
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What To Do

If your cat has had a pyrethrin-containing product put on it, treat the situation as an emergency! If you can easily wash off any topical product that is still wet on the skin, do it. Immediately go to your vet for treatment. Any cat that is already displaying neurological symptoms will need to be hospitalized and medications will likely be given to prevent further seizures or stop muscle spasms. He or she will be monitored closely and may be put on IV fluids. Without veterinary help, there is risk of death.

Not sure if it’s safe to use a product you already have? Don’t hesitate to call or visit us! We’re here to help, and that includes education as well as treatments.

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