Flea medicines are an important way to protect your cat from the frustration and potential danger of a flea infestation. Yet flea medication must be added topically, and sometimes cats aren’t thrilled with the process. This can cause them to lick the area where you apply the medication, making you wonder if you have cause for concern. If you’re wondering, “What happens if the flea medicine for my cat is ingested?” here is a closer look at what you need to know.
Is Flea Medicine Toxic?
When applied as directed, flea medication is a safe way to control these harmful pests. However, when used incorrectly, all topical flea medications contain the risk of toxicity. Both pyrethrin-based and organophosphate-based flea medications carry this risk. Cats are more sensitive to the toxic effects of these ingredients than dogs.
Can Cats Lick Flea Medicine?
When applied correctly, flea medicine should be applied in the area right below the cat’s neck, close to the skin. This is a particularly hard-to-reach area. However, some cats who are particularly limber, as well as cats who bat the area with their paws, can ingest some of the flea medications. If this happens, you will need to watch closely for signs of toxicity, and seek medical care right away if you see any.
What Are the Signs of Flea Medicine Toxicity?
If you suspect that your cat has ingested flea medicine, watch her closely. The signs of toxicity will appear within one to 12 hours of ingesting the medication. For pyrethrin-based medications, excessive salivation and muscle tremors are common symptoms. For organophosphates, which are more dangerous, danger signs include diarrhea, vomiting, breathing problems, muscle tremors, weakness, and drooling.
If you notice these symptoms, call your vet immediately. Then, wash your pet with warm water and a mild detergent. If your vet cannot see your pet, take her to the emergency vet. These medications can quickly become fatal if left untreated.
Can a Cat Recover from Ingesting Flea Medication?
If you are able to get veterinary care right away, your cat should make a full recovery. Your cat may need IV fluids and supportive care at home, and some cats need hospitalization. However, if treatment is prompt, most survive their run-ins with flea medication.
How to Prevent Flea Medication Poisoning
While cats can recover from flea medication toxicity, it’s best to avoid the problem altogether. Consider these tips to reduce the risk of flea medication toxicity events:
- Use only products intended for cats.
- Use only the prescribed amount.
- Apply the medication in the appropriate place.
- Avoid the use of flea medication on kittens.
- Separate pets when applying medication, and keep them separated until the product is dry.
For more information about protecting your cat from fleas as well as the potential dangers of flea control medications, contact Germantown Vet. You can call us at 240-252-7467 or reach out online to schedule an appointment.