The Importance of Using Flea Medications Carefully

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Fleas can be a real nuisance, so often owners are understandably keen to apply treatments and get rid of the pests. However, it is important to exercise a little caution when using over-the-counter treatments for fleas. Potentially, these products can create problems of their own.

There is no getting around it; flea treatments are toxic substances. They have to be, or fleas would just shrug them off. Sometimes, however, it is not just the fleas that suffer the effects. They can also cause adverse reactions in dogs, cats and other pets. Typically, over-the-counter "spot on" treatments tend to be more likely to create reactions than prescribed oral medicines. This may partly be because the latter is exclusively used with the advice and approval of a professional vet, but it is also because topical treatments are easier to use incorrectly than oral ones.



The concept behind these treatments seems simple enough, but without taking proper care it is surprisingly easy for even the most well-intentioned owners to make a mistake that could cause their pet to have a toxic reaction. For this reason, it is important to always pick up the right product and to read the label carefully before using a treatment.

Most spot-on flea treatments like Fiprospot and advocate flea treatment for cats contain substances that fall into one of two categories. Many of them, along with other products such as flea collars and shampoos, contain pyrethrins. These are botanical pesticides that are derived from chrysanthemums. Many, however, contain stronger substances called pyrethroids, which are synthetically derived from pyrethrins.

One type of pyrethroid, permethrin, is a suitable flea treatment for dogs but is seriously hazardous to cats. Examples like this mean that unwary owners who pick up the wrong product, even though there seems to be little difference, can find that their pets react badly to their flea treatment. This is especially easy to do as some treatments have similar names but different ingredients.

Choosing treatments designed for animals of a different weight can also cause an adverse reaction. Dogs, in particular, vary massively in size compared to most animals. If you get your dog's weight significantly wrong or overlook the weight requirement on a product, you may end up giving one of these more powerful doses to a much smaller dog than intended. The excessively high dose can make what should be a safe flea treatment dangerous, and cause a toxic reaction in your dog.

If you have recently treated your pet for fleas and are concerned about whether the treatment you used was appropriate, there are a number of symptoms you can look for that could indicate a toxic reaction. In particular, watch out for twitching, trembling, seizures, and excessive salivation. If you are worried your pet may be having such a reaction, or if you simply want to check a pet medicine is suitable before administering it, do not hesitate to consult your vet.