How to Determine if Your Dog is Allergic to Flea Medications

Pets who spend time outside are more prone to getting fleasMany pet owners purchase flea and tick medications without much thought about the impact that these drugs can have on a pet. In fact, some pets are actually allergic to flea and tick drops, sprays and shampoos. The pet’s reaction can be deadly if it’s not treated.

If your cat or dog has a bad reaction to flea medication, you may see symptoms within minutes or it could take several hours to see signs of a problem. It all depends on the animal. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Facial swelling
  • Swelling of the paws and feet
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling or redness at the application site.

Dogs and cats who have experienced allergic reactions in the past, especially to medications such as vaccinations, tend to be at a higher risk of experiencing an adverse reaction to a flea and tick medication. This is because some pets are just more sensitive to drugs.

How to Help a Dog or Cat Who is Allergic to Flea and Tick Medications

If your cat or dog begins to experience an allergic reaction to flea drops or spray, immediately call your veterinary clinic and describe the situation and your pet’s symptoms. The vet or veterinary assistant will provide you with instructions. You may be instructed to transport the pet immediately, particularly if the pet is experiencing swelling and difficulty breathing.

Alternatively, you may be directed to remove any remaining medication before bringing the dog to the clinic. Wash the area where the medication was applied with dish soap. Dish soap will cut through the oils, completely removing the medication from the pet’s skin and fur. Rinse the pet’s coat thoroughly and towel dry. Then, transport the pet to the veterinary clinic.

Once the pet arrives at the animal hospital, the vet will assess the cat’s or dog’s condition. They may administer an anti-histimine injection to counteract the allergic reaction. If your dog is experiencing seizures, the vet may give your pet anti-seizure medication. Treatment will also consist of supportive treatment measures, such as oxygen and IV fluids. The pet will need to remain in the vet’s care until the symptoms have abated. Overnight hospitalization may be required, depending upon the severity of the reaction.

To avoid a potentially deadly allergic reaction, follow these tips:

  • Apply flea medication at a time when you’ll be home to observe your pet for a period of at least six hours.
  • Apply flea medication in the morning on a weekday, so the veterinary clinic is open in the event that your dog experiences an adverse reaction.
  • Ensure you have access to a vehicle so you can transport your pet to the veterinary clinic if the need arises.

In addition, always keep the flea and tick medication packaging. Keep it for 24 hours before discarding it. This way, if your pet has an adverse reaction, you can bring the packaging to the veterinary clinic and they can tailor the pet’s treatment according to the specific type of drug that was administered.

Never leave your pet alone after administering medication, as you will not be on-hand to provide assistance if the cat or dog experiences an adverse reaction. Notably, your pet may suddenly develop an intolerance to a medication that he has received in the past without incident.

Pet lovers may also enjoy reading “How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Fleas?

Photo Source: Dimitri Castrique on

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

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