If you have cats and dogs at home, you may think you can buy one flea treatment product to use on both your cat and your dog. But can you use dog flea treatment on cats? The short answer is no — this can actually be extremely dangerous, especially for your cat. Most dog flea treatments should NEVER be used on cats because their ingredients are toxic to them.
Why you should not use dog flea treatment on cats
Remember that cats and dogs have different physiologies. What is okay for one may be toxic for the other. This difference is particularly important when it comes to flea treatments, especially for cats.
- Common dog flea treatment ingredients are toxic to cats. Permethrin is one of the most common ingredients you find in flea treatments. Dogs are okay with permethrin, but cats are sensitive to it and its many variants. Cats can’t metabolize these ingredients properly, especially in higher concentrations.
- Flea treatment toxicity can harm or kill your cat. Exposure to or ingestion of these ingredients can lead to flea treatment poisoning or toxicity. Here are the signs you should look out for — diarrhea, excessive salivation, lethargy, and vomiting. Flea treatments also have other adverse effects. For instance, topical treatments can lead to skin issues like contact dermatitis and oral treatments can lead to digestive issues like bloating.
- There are many factors to consider to know the perfect flea treatment for your pet. The perfect flea treatment is not just determined by whether your pet is a cat or a dog. There are other factors at play, such as the age, weight, and medical history of the pet. This is one of the reasons why consulting a veterinarian is always the best choice when looking for the perfect flea treatment.
What to do if you accidentally use dog flea treatment on cats
There are so many instances where you can accidentally use dog flea treatment on your cat. It may happen because of your own negligence. But it can also intentionally happen because of your own stinginess. Intentionally using a dog flea treatment on your cat so you can save a few dollars is never a good idea. It can actually cost you more money because of the extra care your cat will need for the flea treatment toxicity.
- Look out for the signs of flea treatment toxicity. You know your cat the most, so look for unusual behaviors like sudden agitation and seclusion. Also look for flea treatment toxicity symptoms, such as diarrhea, excessive salivation, lethargy, and vomiting. You should really be assertive when looking for these unusual behaviors and symptoms. If your cat remains untreated, her condition can seriously harm or kill her.
- Try to relieve mild symptoms at home. If you are not sure if the symptoms are mild or not, your best bet is to go to a veterinarian just to be safe. But if you think the symptoms are mild, you may be able to relieve them on your own at home. Bathe your cat immediately with warm water and a mild dish soap to wash away topical flea treatments. Symptoms may disappear within three days.
- Consult a veterinarian for severe symptoms. If symptoms persist or if they look severe, don’t rely on home remedies any longer. Consult a veterinarian as soon as you can. If possible, bring the dog flea treatment you have used on your cat with you to the clinic, so the veterinarian can take a look at the ingredients your cat has been exposed to. This may help the veterinarian come up with the appropriate treatment. There may even be times where your cat may be hospitalized.
How to treat fleas on cats safely
Remember that flea treatments have powerful ingredients to get rid of fleas. You shouldn’t be surprised if your cat ends up with symptoms even if you use the safest treatments. Even FDA-approved flea treatments can lead to neurologic adverse events like ataxia, muscle tremors, and seizures. With that said, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of flea treatments.
- Consult a veterinarian. There are a lot of over-the-counter flea treatments for your cat out there. But nothing beats a prescribed medication from a veterinarian. The medical professional will be able to determine the perfect flea treatment for your cat by looking at your pet’s age, weight, and medical history. This is particularly important for vulnerable cats, like those who are pregnant or too young for strong flea treatments. The veterinarian will be able to handle the specific needs of your cat.
- Always read the labels of products. Generally, you should only use dog flea treatments on dogs and cat flea treatments on cats unless the labels point that the products have been specifically formulated for both pets. There are other important labels you can find in the packaging, such as the ideal age and weight of the pet where the treatment is going to be used on. Make sure to read the labels of the products you are planning to buy, so the products you actually end up buying is not a waste of money and actually usable to your cat.
- Isolate pets undergoing flea treatment. If you have multiple pets in your home, separate the pet who is undergoing flea treatment. Pets usually lick and play with each other, which can be very dangerous if you are using a topical flea treatment. Your other pets may lick the treatment off of the pet undergoing flea treatment. This doesn’t just render the flea treatment ineffective. This also puts your other pets at risk of flea treatment toxicity.
You should not use dog flea treatment on cats
You may be trying to save money by using the same flea treatment for your cat and dog, but this can actually make you pay more. Generally, you should not use dog flea treatment on cats because cats are sensitive to common dog flea treatment ingredients. You should only do so if your veterinarian approves or if the label on the product specifically says that it can be used for both cats and dogs.