Over-the-Counter Flea & Tick

Written by Katie

April 4, 2022

There are so many different flea & tick products on the market currently with a wide variety of active ingredients. Some would assume that if they are marketed for pets, they would be safe for all pets. This is not necessarily true. Cats are much more sensitive than dogs and can have severe reactions to canine flea & tick products. Patients with chronic medical conditions, such as seizures, can also respond differently to medications.

Store Brand vs Prescription

We carry Bravecto, Credelio, & Seresto for dogs.

There are numerous benefits of using prescription flea & tick prevention from your veterinarian. Most prescription medications are more effective than over-the-counter treatments. Your pet’s veterinarian can recommend the right product based on their lifestyle and medical conditions. When you purchase through your veterinarian, the product is recorded in your pet’s medical records. Having accurate record of what was administered and when is valuable since most companies offer guarantees on their products. Also, drug companies often offer better rebates when buying through a veterinarian.

Unfortunately, when buying products through untrusted online sources, consumers risk receiving counterfeit products. The counterfeit products have little to none of the desired effect, which can leave your pet exposed to serious diseases. When shopping online, be sure to purchase only from trusted sources and inspect the product closely upon arrival.

We carry Revolution Plus & Seresto for cats.

Cats

Topical medications & collars are popular amongst flea & tick products. Some contain Permethrins, Organophosphates, or Amitraz as the active ingredient. All of these are extremely toxic to cats. Any medication containing permethrins should never be applied to cats. Also, cats should be kept away from dogs who have been treated for at least 72 hours to avoid accidental contact. Exposure can affect a cat’s nervous system and cause severe illness.

Symptoms include:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremors, shaking, or twitching
  • Ataxic- uncoordinated, acting “drunk”
  • Hypersensitive to touch
  • If left untreated, can results in death

Correct Dosing & Route of Administration

When used inappropriately, any medication can be toxic to the patient. Most products are dosed based on the patient’s weight. Pets who inadvertently ingest a topical medication or collar can become extremely ill. Toxicity can affect the nervous system, gastrointestinal system, and/or cardiac function with symptoms including:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxic- uncoordinated, acting “drunk”
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Slow heart rate
  • Low or high blood pressure

Natural Remedies

Some prefer a more natural approach to flea & tick prevention. Although not nearly as effective, holistic remedies can work for pets with minimal exposure. There are products available that have peppermint, lemongrass, cedarwood, and other essential oils as their main ingredient which claim to repel mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. Please be aware that some oils, for example Tea Tree Oil, can also be toxic to pets. Read more about toxic oils on our blog “Essential Oils & Diffusers”.

Key Points

Here is a list of key points to take away from this blog.

  • Never use dog products on cats.
  • Use products only as directed on the label.
  • Monitor your pets after use.
  • Report any adverse reactions to the company.
  • Use the appropriate dose for your pet’s weight.
  • Consult a veterinarian before product use in pets with chronic medical conditions.
  • Most prescription medications are more effective than over-the-counter treatments.
  • If your pet is having a reaction to a flea & tick medication:
    • If the product is a collar, remove it immediately.
    • Have the packaging available.
    • Call the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680.

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