The Health Risks of Too Much Topical Flea and Tick Medication in Pets

As responsible pet parents, we want to do what’s best for our dogs and cats, including protecting them from harmful parasites like fleas and ticks.

But did you know that it’s possible to “overdose” your pets on too much topical flea and tick medication?  Veterinarians have seen many cases of pet poisoning caused by the over-application of these meds. We’ve even seen a few of these cases here at FACE.

What can you do to ensure that your pet gets the right amount—and the right type—of topical flea and tick medication?  Here’s what the experts say.

According to veterinary toxicology experts, most topical flea and tick treatments contain plant-derived insecticidal drugs known as pyrethrins (natural) or pyrethroids (synthetic).  Pyrethrin acts as a neurotoxin.

Over-application of pyrethrins/pyrethroids can cause serious adverse reactions in dogs and cats.  The Animal Poison Control Center lists these common symptoms of poisoning:

  • Profuse drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Tremoring
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty breathing

The effects can be life-threatening if left untreated.  Be sure to read and carefully follow all dosage information listed on the package and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions.

Treatment for pyrethrin poisoning includes immediate removal of the product by bathing and emergency veterinary care.

One other important point to remember:  cats are very sensitive to pyrethrin, and spot treatments made for dogs should never be used on cats.  Canine treatments contain more of the drug than cats can safely metabolize.

Be sure to always use flea and tick medications made exclusively for cats if you choose to treat your cat.  This is especially important if you have dogs in the home and treat them with canine meds.

A little prevention can go a long way in keeping your pets both safe and protected!


“Feline Grimace Scale” Helps Vets Determine Your Cat’s Pain

Cats are very good at hiding their pain.  It can be difficult for owners and vets to determine the severity of a cat’s pain, and many often look to body language as a key.

Besides the position in which they hold their bodies, a cat’s face can also show signs of pain.  A cat’s facial muscle structure does not allow for the kind of facial expressions seen in dogs, but there are ways to read signs of pain.

Veterinarians at the University of Montreal have developed a “Feline Grimace Scale” which allows vets to examine and rate 5 facial actions to determine pain on a scale of 0 to 10.  The actions are:

  • Ear position
  • Eye tightening
  • Muzzle tension
  • Whisker position
  • Head position

Vets can assess each element to determine the level of pain.  For example, ears perked upwards and facing forward indicate no pain while ears flattened and rotated outwards indicate some degree of pain.

Check out this summary of the Feline Grimace Scale (including helpful visual aid illustrations) published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Meet FACE Animaltarian Award Winner Loving Hands Veterinary Services

Saying good-bye to our treasured animal companions is the hardest thing we have to do as pet parents.

Dr. Tiffany Palozzi and Dr. Stephanie Schneider are the pair behind Loving Hands Veterinary Services.  They provide caring, in-home euthanasia services for beloved pets when it is time to cross the rainbow bridge.

Our final Animaltarian Award recipient Loving Hands is a long-time supporter of FACE’s mission to end economic euthanasia.

The company participates in our In-Memory Program, providing a donation when their patients pass on, which in turn helps to give the gift of life to a future pet in need.

Dr. Palozzi and her family are also frequent volunteers at FACE’s fundraising events, always willing to give their time and support to help us save pets.

Thank you to Loving Hands for all you do to help pets and their people!


September is Animal Pain Awareness Month

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) has dedicated the month of September to raising awareness about pain and pain management in our pets.

According to the IVAPM, animals suffer from the same kinds of acute and chronic pain as humans, from causes like arthritis, cancer, and post-surgery pain.  They note that also like humans, older pets can suffer from chronic pain that owners may attribute to age or just “slowing down.”

There are many ways to manage pain in our pets, including physical therapy, medications, acupuncture, massage, and laser therapy.

Common signs of pain in pets are:

  • Decreased play and activity
  • Not going up or down stairs
  • Reluctance to jump (especially for cats)
  • Difficulty standing after lying down
  • Decreased appetite (mouth pain)
  • Over-grooming or licking a specific area of the body

Do you suspect your dog, cat, or other pet is suffering from pain?  Be sure to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a wellness check and come prepared with your questions.

To learn more about pain management in our pets, be sure to visit the IVAPM website for lots of useful information.


Study Shows Owners of Flat Muzzled Dogs Often Ignore Health Risks of Brachycephaly

Researchers in the UK recently conducted a large-scale survey of owners of flat faced dog breeds like the Pug and French and English Bulldogs.

The findings show that while these breeds are very popular, owners often downplay the health problems associated with brachycephaly in their dogs.

Brachycephaly can cause a wide range of chronic health issues, including airway obstruction, skin fold infections, overheating, and corneal ulcers.

Many of the survey respondents said that their own dogs suffered from these health issues, and yet only a small percentage felt that their dogs were less healthy than average.  In fact, over 70% of owners rated their dogs as either in “very good health” or “the best health possible.”

In an article on the study published by the Royal Veterinary College, the researchers note that our attraction to flat muzzled dogs can often lead us to rationalize their health problems.

One veterinarian involved in the study offered this important assessment of our role as responsible pet owners in addressing the health and well-being of our animal companions:

“After almost a decade working on brachycephalic dogs, I have come to realize that the issue is as much a human problem as it is a dog problem. As humans, we design, breed and choose the dogs we own but our dogs have to live, for better or worse, with those outcomes. With such great power comes great responsibility. Deeper understanding of the human reasons for our choices can help us make better decisions and to improve the welfare of our ‘best friend’.”