Preventing flea and parasite infestations in our cats and dogs is a must in any household. However, it’s imperative that any product or solution used is safe and designed for the animal type. A cat treated with an anti-parasite product for dogs is likely to suffer from poisoning and may even die.

Many animal welfare agencies warn of the dangers of treating different pets with the same anti-flea and anti-parasite treatments. Despite these warnings, some pet parents continue to use the same products on their dogs and cats. The consequences can be lethal and cruel to your animal.

Dangers of anti-parasite dog treatments for cats

The dangers of using anti-parasite dog treatments on cats can be found in the toxic chemicals used in various product formulations. These can include imidacloprid, fipronil, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen, among others. Another chemical frequently used in dog treatments, and which is particularly harmful to cats, is called permethrin.

We've previously written about permethrin and its dangers to cats. But as more research and cases of serious illnesses arise, the more important it is for pet parents to be aware of its dangers. This product, as well as other chemicals found in treatment products, can also be dangerous to children and adults. Following treatment, it's very easy for these chemicals to be transferred to numerous surfaces within your home environment.

According to reports from the U.S., more than 2,000 pets died following exposure to flea and tick treatment products between 2008 and 2014. Other reports show that Health Canada received 4,726 cases of intoxication between 2009 and 2013 for cats and dogs alone. In 2018, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) reported 122 cases of permethrin intoxication in France. 54 cats were found in critical condition while six died.

These are just some of a number of reported cases whereby an innocent, and in some cases careless, act of regular parasite treatment can go very wrong.

So how can I treat my pets against parasites?

Always read product labels and ask about any ingredients you are unsure of. There are a range of alternatives and safer options to help protect your pets against fleas, ticks and other parasites.

PETA offers a range of natural and non-toxic suggestions to help avoid a flea infestation.

Talking to your vet about your concerns is another good place to start. They should be able to give you some recommendations on natural options to help protect your pets, or those products that have the least chemical concerns for your animal and your home environment.

If your vet challenges the likelihood of chemical intoxication, despite the recommended product containing some of the above chemicals, you may like to gently challenge them back. The question we would ask is, "What if?! What if my pet had a reaction, serious or otherwise?".

The health and wellbeing of our pets is number one and they rely on us to help keep them healthy, happy, and pain-free. So trust your instincts (and maybe even find another vet if they don't get you!).

I've treated my cat with a dog product - what do I do?

If you have inadvertently treated your cat with an anti-parasite dog treatment, wash them immediately with warm, soapy water. Give them a thorough wash all over, and focus on the areas you believe they came into contact with the product. Your cat may not like it but it is for their own health and safety.

Immediate washing is recommended even if your animal does not suffer an immediate reaction to the product. In fact, it is very likely that they will develop some symptoms over the coming hours. In the meantime, your cat may have licked itself and ingested the product, which can be more serious. If you're worried, seek medical advice from your local vet as quickly as possible.

Of course, if your cat is showing signs of poisoning, ensure you get them to an emergency clinic straight away.

How do you keep fleas, ticks and other parasites off of your pets?

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