Dog ‘Spot On’ flea treatment packaging needs to be changed to protect cats

The Pet Poison Helpline makes it clear that topical spot-on insecticides for dogs is one of the most common ways to poison a cat. The dog spot-on treatments contain an insecticide which is highly toxic to cats: pyrethrins or pyrethroids. The poisoning is life-threatening. Cats can suffer severe drooling tremors and seizures.

Many cat owners are aware that insecticides against ticks and fleas for dogs are poisonous to cats. However, clearly many people are unaware. Also it must be fair to say that some people are careless about treating their cat for ticks and fleas. They may believe that a dog treatment will be okay for their cat. They want to save some money. Let’s not forget that these treatments are expensive.

A dog and cat owner who poisons her cats with a dog spot-on flea treatment has either been (a) careless or (b) unaware that the treatment is poisonous to their cat.

The packaging on spot-on flea treatments in my opinion is neither clear nor plain enough. Yes, there are pictures of dogs and cats respectively on the different types of treatments so you would have thought that people would notice the difference but there are no warnings on the dog treatments. It should be spelt out in no uncertain terms that treatments for dogs can only be used on dogs (see mock up above).

Dog Flea Treatments Kill Cats

In this way, the manufacturers not only help prevent the poisoning of cats by their product, they also educate the public. This is doing a public service. It is good public relations. It would be good for business. So why aren’t they doing it?

The picture on this page is a mockup by me. It is not that good because I’m not a graphic designer but the intention is to put across the message loud and clear that the packaging needs to be changed to highlight the dangers to cat owners of this inherently toxic product.

6 thoughts on “Dog ‘Spot On’ flea treatment packaging needs to be changed to protect cats”

  1. I think we have two issues here: people wanting to save money on flea treatment and being unaware of the toxicity of dog spot on treatments or thinking “it will be o.k.for my cat”. The other issue is that manufacturers of these products may feel no responsibility other than the information and warnings they already provide. Consider how big the warnings are on packs of tobacco products, and who reads them. Also, let’s consider the serious side effects of many human medications. Yes, there’s information, probably a lot of it, but how many people are going to read all of it? Sure, a warning in RED might alert cat guardians who are unaware, but how to get manufacturers to do this? There’s no “benefit” to them, and they may even lose money, which is really their bottom line. I think this is a reality, which means cats will continue to suffer and die from lack of concern and lack of awareness. It happens with many things besides spot on flea treatment. Education is the answer, and hopefully the celebrities who advise cat guardians will take it upon themselves to push this information all the time. Many people seem to listen to them.

    I’ve tried other more natural flea treatments on Mitzy, but nothing works as well as Advantage to kill eggs and adults. Since she goes outside with her halter and leash, she’s exposed to more fleas, as I am, although they prefer to bite her. I haven’t tried Frontline. Each time I treat Mitzy, I watch her closely for a few days. Since I’ve seen that she appears to sleep more after treatment. I don’t like using it, and consider it a necessary risk for her.

    My friend just found out that she has diabetes, and her doctor started her on Metformin. I looked up the side effects, and was shocked by the number and severity of them. My friend experiences many of these. The manufacturer provides this list, the doctor is or should be aware of them, but my friend needs medicine and is poor, so there’s no option for her.

    What are the options for poor pet guardians to protect their cats from fleas, when they can’t afford the spot on treatment for cats? Diatomaceous earth is helpful and cheap, but very messy, and can be unhealthy if dust is airborne.

    What do readers use that’s effective and non toxic? Have any readers experienced severe side effects from spot on treatment? What were they, and from what product?

    My friend used Seresto flea collar, and her cat scratched so badly from a reaction, that he made a hole in his neck. She had a vet come to the house, who advised that her cat had an allergic reaction. That collar is touted to be effective for 9 months, but after seeing that reaction, I’d never use it, or recommend it. There are many new internal medicines, I’d also not use.

    It’s an ongoing problem, especially for indoor/outdoor cats. I use a flea comb daily on my cat, but haven’t seen a flea if I keep up on the Advantage treatment, once a month. It’s on my calendar, just as birthdays are. It’s even more important to me than birthdays!

    • Hi Sandy, I think the health problem of fleas is a big one and I personally hate the insecticide treatments as they are so toxic. Fortunately, I have not treated my cat for fleas for almost all the time I have cared for him (about four years). I treated him for around a month when I first fostered him but since then nothing. He has no fleas. I depends on where one lives and whether there are other cats in the house or in the area and if the cat is preying on animals who have fleas.

      • Of course you know many animals are simply left to suffer with fleas. Outside pets often are not considered so much a family member. When you have large numbers of untreated animals roaming it’s just spreading the problem around. We had a flea outbreak here after my neighbors came to the door and one of their dogs followed. The flea was observed by the door and later one of the cats had one. I was instantly out 60 bucks on top of it.

      • I’ve lived in 3 places since I got Mitzy 7 years ago, and she’s always managed to get fleas if I didn’t keep up on the flea treatment. If I had my own place, instead of renting a room, I’d treat the yard and the house with Nature’s Eradicator, Kleen Green, a non-toxic biodegradable concentrate.

        In one of the places I lived, she became infested with fleas (from the yard) because I couldn’t afford the treatment. So, each day I spent time with the flea comb dropping them in a bowl of water. I felt so bad for her. Later, I started using a small jar of Vaseline and smothered them that way.

        Since I flea comb her twice a day, and look closely at the comb, I haven’t seen any for several months. I’ve started treating her with Advantage, and she doesn’t indicate an adverse reaction. I think that fleas may be attracted to her, as the treatment wears off because I notice her scratching, but I hold off until the due date.

        I’ve also learned that cats can become anemic when infested with fleas. And also, that the general health of the cat is a factor. Mitzy’s recent blood panel looked very good, and I attribute that to her eating raw food.

        Gabriel is young and strong. Your area may not be so susceptible to fleas because of the weather. You and Gabriel are very lucky!

  2. I’ve had the argument with several rescues over buying dog spot on treatments and then trying to divide them up between cats to save money. The argument is Frontline is the same formula for cats and dogs. It may be but it’s not dosed for cats. There are numerous knock off and cheap-o brands on the shelf now. We still get excellent results with Frontline Plus.
    If you use one of these products outside the instructions and species on the box all bets are off for any liability.
    You can label something with big red letters but you can’t fix stupid.

    • I agree you can’t fix stupid. I feel the manufacturers can do more. The packaging is not clear enough and there are a range of types some as you say for dogs and cats. This is an added confusion. With something this toxic the manufacturers have a high standard of care to meet.


Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo