Cat Owners Beware: Flea Treatments for Dogs are Dangerous for Cats

Posted by Christy Caplan
Cat Flea Treatment

This is such a serious topic that no one tells you about when you buy a flea product designed for your dog unless for some reason your cat comes up in conversation. Your vet may mention this if you're purchasing the medication at the clinic but many folks don't and they might look for a treatment for their dog not realizing that topical medication can rub off on their cat if the two hang out near each other.

The bottom line is simple. Dog flea treatments can kill cats.

icatcare.com and other organizations are warning cat owners about flea treatments meant for dogs.

"The deaths are due to the insecticide permethrin, commonly found in dog spot-on treatments, which are widely available. This is highly toxic to cats, with often fatal consequences."

A vet in Missouri also wants to warn cat owners that permethrin is what harms them. Using something oral with your dog instead is a better idea and then you don't need to worry about the two sleeping next to each other. Just avoid medication that can spread through contact.

The vet interviewed in a story reported by KY3.com tells us how quickly the negative reaction can take place,

"Within minutes they'll start to salivate and muscle tremors and dilated pupils can happen within 5 to 10 minutes," said veterinarian Rebecca Skinner. "Seizures can ensue within 30 minutes so it can be very quick."

This KY3 story has a very important message for cat owners. Sometimes the label isn't super clear and cat owners may accidentally apply the topical treatment meant for their dogs.

Another option is diatomaceous earth which helps control insects and kills by physical action, not chemical. You can sprinkle this on your garden or areas that border your home or front porch area. You can read more about how to apply this powder in our article. 

If you do end up having an issue, veterinarians say to immediately bath your cat in warm water and dawn dish soap and then take them to your nearest vet immediately. 

Spot-on products should be avoided at all costs! Flea control is better controlled with an oral tablet and pet owners can talk to their vet about the brands they recommend. Some flea medications also include a tick prevention as well so you can look at treatment options that take care of both pests.

This active ingredient is extremely dangerous for cats so always inquire about the dog products that are safe when you're at the vet for a wellness appointment!

Have you ever had an issue with flea medication? Please let us know in the comments. 

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Cat Owners Beware: Flea Treatments for Dogs are Dangerous for Cats