Veterinarians recommends applying the flea control only when pet owners will be home with their pet for a few hours to watch for symptoms of pyrethrin toxicity.
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -
Summer is peak parasite time and when most pet owners are vigilant about applying a monthly flea prevention medication.
But a surprising number of pets have adverse reactions to these products, sometimes resulting in death.
Rhonda Dodds found her cat, Chester, clinging to life after an application of Sergeant's flea and tick drops.
"He was almost dead. I mean he was limp, trying to meow," she said.
Dodds rushed him to the vet, but it was too late.
"Unfortunately, it can be very toxic and fatal if untreated," veterinarian Ryan Braggs said.
Braggs, with Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in Overland Park, did not treat Chester but sees plenty of these cases, primarily in cats, each year.
He says most often the adverse reactions are caused by human error, putting a flea prevention topical designed for dog on a cat.
"Certain flea meds for dogs can be very toxic to cats. Not so much the cat meds on dogs," Braggs said.
Even on the correct animal the active ingredient may simply be toxic to them.
Braggs recommends applying the flea control only when pet owners will be home with their pet for a few hours to watch for symptoms of pyrethrin toxicity.
"Most commonly, we see tremors, salivating. So if that is seen, the pet should be seen as soon as possible," Braggs said.
As for Dodds, she didn't think anything like it would kill her cat. And neither did the 29,000 others who reported similar claims last year, despite the EPA enforcing stricter labeling requirements on these products to prevent mix-ups.
Part of the problem is that cats are more apt to groom themselves, so they have more of a chance of ingesting the treatment.
Regardless of the brand people choose, experts say pet owners should read the label carefully before applying. And it's always wise to talk to a veterinarian about the best products for pets.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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