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The Wrong Flea Meds Could Be Deadly For Cats

Dr. Clare Guichard was recently featured on WWL with some important information on the dangers of over-the-counter flea prevention in cats. – via WWL

By Meg Farris, Medical Reporter

NEW ORLEANS — A local veterinarian clinic says about once a month a they are seeing well-meaning cat owners accidentally poison their pet cats. It happens when they are trying to control fleas. Veterinarians say owners don’t understand the reasons why this is happening, and what are the safe way to prevent flea infestation.

He’s only three years old, but Bubble is lucky to be alive.

“The guy at the store said it was fine. I hadn’t talked to a vet about it, which probably would have been a better idea, because when I sprayed Bubble with it, he started freaking out. He was like shaking and drooling,” said Bubble’s owner Zoey Akin.

Akin used an over-the-counter flea preventive spray that had a cat’s picture on it. Had she not rushed Bubble to Lakeview Veterinary Hospital immediately, he would be gone.

People are reaching for their dog flea prevention thinking that cats are just small dogs and they’re not,” explained Veterinarian Dr. Clare Guichard, who practices at Lakeview Veterinary Hospital. “Cats can’t process those medications the same way a dog would. So even if you were use just a small drop of your dog’s topical flea prevention on a cat, their body is not going to be able to metabolize it and they can get very serious side effects.”

Dr. Guichard says you also have to be careful if your dog and cat are friends, because the cat could rub up against the medicine on the dog, or lick it off of the dog, and that could be fatal as well.

Dog flea medication isn’t the only thing that could be fatal to cats. Some over-the-counter preventive medicine for cats can cause problems. Vets say it’s best to get a prescription from them with more safety testing behind it.

“Some of the flea products that you can get over-the-counter, don’t have the heartworm prevention that a prescription medication from your veterinarian would,” Dr. Guichard explained.

Guichard adds that she has seen cats recently have seizures and die before owners could get them in for treatment.

“I’m really relieved that that didn’t happen with (Bubble) because I love him,” said Akin of her pet.

Veterinarians say if this poisoning happens by using the wrong product, bathe the cat immediately to keep the medicine from absorbing further and get your cat to a vet.

It is important to use a safe flea prevention on cats so they won’t get heartworms and tapeworms. There is no treatment for heartworms in cats.

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