Side Effects of Flea and Tick Spot Treatments

The warm spring weather means that flea and tick season is coming!  Topical spot products are the preferred treatment for many dog and cat owners.  When used correctly, they can be very safe and effective.

But it is possible that your individual pet may experience an adverse skin reaction to the treatment.

Here’s an overview of the most common reactions, courtesy of the Veterinary Information Network:

Epidermal paresthesia:  This is a fancy term for an itching, prickling, or burning sensation on the skin.  This reaction is most common with spot treatments that contain pyrethroids.  The itching can start minutes after treatment and last as long as 24 hours.

The skin looks normal with paresthesia, but you will notice behavior changes in your pets if they feel uncomfortable.

Contact dermatitis:  This skin condition occurs when your pet develops an inflammatory reaction to the spot product.  Your pet’s skin will look red and irritated at the application site.  In severe cases, the skin may blister.  The reaction time is more delayed than with paresthesia.

Wash off the product and seek veterinary care if the skin does not improve after the product is removed.

What should you do if your dog or cat has a reaction to a spot treatment?  Veterinary experts recommend that you discontinue use of the product.  You can try another treatment that uses different active ingredients and monitor your pet for signs of a reaction.

Important reminder:  Certain canine flea and tick spot treatments can be very toxic to cats, especially those containing permethrin.  Permethrin can cause life-threatening neurological damage in cats.  Never use canine treatments on cats.

If your pet experiences an adverse reaction to a spot treatment, you can report it to the manufacturer as well as to the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency if you live in the U.S.