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Safety Tips for Using Flea and Tick Products on Pets

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Flea and Tick Prevention: Medication Safety Guidelines continued...

3. Wear gloves or wash your hands with soap and water after applying a flea and tick preventive. Be sure to follow the instructions for proper storage and disposal of packaging.

4. When applying spray or spot-on flea and tick preventives, keep pets separate while the product dries. This will keep them from grooming each other and swallowing the chemicals.

5. After applying a product, watch your cat or dog for signs of a reaction, especially if it’s the first time you’re using it. Call your vet if your pet has symptoms such as:

  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Excessive salivation
  • Depression

If you cat or dog has a bad reaction to flea and tick products such as spot-ons, sprays, or powders, immediately bathe your pet thoroughly with soap and water and follow any instructions from the package insert. Call your vet and report problems to the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378.

Flea and Tick Prevention: Special Warnings

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulate flea and tick products for safety. The FDA deals with drug safety and the EPA with pesticide safety. In 2009, the FDA issued a warning about spot-on flea and tick products. This came in response to a big increase in reports about reactions in pets, ranging from mild skin reactions to seizures and even death.

At this time, the FDA is not recommending that pet owners stop using these products. But it strongly suggests using caution and closely following directions. This illustrates why: ASPCA Animal Poison Control data shows that fewer than 2% of cats have a major problem when pet owners use products correctly. This jumps to 20%, however, when they use them incorrectly.

Flea and Tick Prevention: Carpets, Floors, and Yards

Controlling fleas on your pets may not eliminate them from their environment. And if your pet is sensitive to flea or tick control products, tackling the environment may be the best place to start. If you treat your house with an insecticide, ask your vet which ones are safe around pets and children.

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