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JR and Ginger
Credit: Les Chatfield (elsie on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Mae scratches her itchDonnie Ray Jones on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericThe summer is when most pet owners worry about fleas and ticks affecting their pets. Naturally, many people will look for an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment while they are shopping. After all, who thinks of a few fleas or ticks as an emergency?

Yet every year veterinarians see cats who've been treated with a flea treatment intended for dogs. And I have to wonder too, if some cats might be grooming (licking) their doggie pals.
 
The cats who have been treated with these products may present with some or all of the following: high body temperatures, shaking, tremors, breathing problems, diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures. This type of toxicity is considered a medical emergency. Death can occur if a cat suffers these symptoms for too long.
 
Symptoms may begin within hours of exposure or be delayed for up to 48 hours.

What to do if a cat has been treated with dog flea and tick products:


ZonkedCeleste Lindell (averagejane on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericThis is an emergency and your cat needs to be treated as soon as possible.

  1. Call your vet or closest emergency animal hospital.
  2. Bathe the cat/kitten with warm soapy water.
  3. Don't bother drying the cat/kitten - just wrap him/her in a towel and head to the emergency hospital or your veterinarian.
  4. Upon arrival at the vet or animal hospital inform whoever greets you that your cat has been exposed to a flea and tick treatment meant for dogs.

Why dog flea and tick products harm cats:

Cats lack some of the liver enzymes that dogs possess.

What is the ingredient in these flea and tick products that are so deadly to cats?

Permethrin-containing products (usually spot-on or pour-on type treatments for dogs).
Some of these preparations intended only for dogs contain 45 - 60% permethrin insecticide - which is purportedly a "safe range" for dogs, yet even of few drops of it could kill a cat.

Not on cats but I would not use it on my dog either

Check out this investigative report by Joel Grover:

Trade or Other Names for Pyrethrins

Paddy and Flipper PICT0051Graham Smith on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericThe ingredients to look for (and stay away from) regardless of the brand may be listed as:

pyrethrins

pyrethroids

permethrin

tetramethrin

phenothrin

etofenprox

allethrin

resmethrin

amitraz - belongs to a group of drugs called formamidines (which kills ticks)

 

Beagle and kittenClaudio Matsuoka (cmatsuoka on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericYet, I found out that trade or other names for pyrethrins and pyrethoids include:
 
 
Buhach

Chrysanthemum

Cinerariaefolium

Ofimotox

Insect Powder

Dalmation Insect Flowers

Firmotox

Parexan

NA 9184

What is a Safe Solution for Flea and Tick Control?

According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), suggests quite a few alternative treatments. The tips I feel are most helpful include the following:

  1. Use a veterinarian-approved pet shampoo. Start with warm water and begin a "ring of lather" around your pet's neck to prevent fleas from climbing up onto their head and face. Soap and water DOES kill fleas.
  2. Make your own insect repellent for dogs: Add 5 drops each of citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil and tea tree oil to 1 cup of warm water. Mix it well and store it in a spray bottle. This can be used even daily on your dog's coat. Plus it smells pleasant too.
  3. Vacuum pet beds, rugs and furniture often and wash any bedding once a week during flea season. NOTE: Flea eggs might be sucked up by your vacuum yet they can still hatch in the bag. So either seal it and put in the garbage or store it in a large ziploc bag (sealed) in your freezer after you vacuum until the bag is full.

Dr. Holly Nash Talks to Gordon Magee

Flea and tick prevention and control for your dog and cat:

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