How to Give Flea Medications to Your Dog or Cat

Pets who spend time outdoors are more prone to getting fleas and ticks!
Medications can be deadly if they’re not administered properly and flea and tick preventatives are no exception! Your pet may get extremely sick or even die if you don’t apply flea drops in an appropriate manner. This particular article will discuss flea drops; we’ll discuss shampoos, dips, sprays and flea collars in a future article.

Firstly, it’s important to get an accurate weight for your pet, as the medication dosage will vary according to the animal’s weight. If you misjudge your dog’s or cat’s weight, you may accidentally overdose them; conversely, if you apply a dose intended for a smaller pet, it won’t be effective.

Next, select an appropriate time to apply the medication. You must be on-hand to monitor the pet for 24 hours after the medication is applied. Never leave a pet unattended or unmonitored after applying flea drops, even if your cat or dog has received the medication before. An allergy can develop at any time.

I recommend applying the medication on a weekday, first thing in the morning. This way, the veterinary clinic will be open in the event that your cat or dog requires treatment for an adverse reaction. If you apply the medication at night, during the weekend or on a holiday, and your pet has a reaction, your only option will be to visit a 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic. The animal hospital’s ER is much more expensive than a normal vet visit, but allergic reactions can be deadly in very short order, so you won’t have an option but to seek immediate treatment at the ER.

Notably, virtually all flea and tick medication manufacturers will reimburse you for costs associated with an allergic reaction to their product, but you will need to pay for the pet’s treatment up-front. This leads me to my next point: keep your receipt and all the packaging for the flea and tick medication. Read the directions carefully and double check the product to ensure it’s appropriate for your pet. The doses are determined by weight, so check to ensure that it’s suitable for your cat or dog. Also, ensure that the medication is intended for your pet’s species. You cannot give cat medications to dogs or vice versa.

Next, apply the medication. Dog flea drops are typically applied in a stripe from the dog’s neck, along his spine and to the base of his tail. Cat flea drops are applied to the skin at the base of the skull — the one location that the cat cannot reach as he self-grooms.

Once you’ve applied the medication, store the empty applicator in the package and wash your hands with soap and water to remove any traces of the pesticide. Keep the package in a safe location (inaccessible to children and pets); do not throw it away! You will need to bring the medication packaging to the veterinary clinic if your pet experiences an adverse reaction. You will also need the package if you need to seek vet bill reimbursement from the manufacturer.

Finally, spend the rest of the day with your dog or cat and enjoy his/her company! It’s important to monitor your furry family member for any signs of an allergic reaction. Also, keep an eye on your cats to ensure they don’t groom each other and instruct children to avoid petting the cat or dog, so they don’t come in contact with the pesticides.

Other Tips for Flea Control

Notably, it’s important to avoid bathing your dog for one week following the application of the flea and tick medication. You should also avoid bathing your pet right before application because the sebum — oils in the pet’s fur — helps to distribute the medication throughout the animal’s coat. If you strip away the oils with a bath, this can impact the efficacy of the drops.

Within 24 hours of administering the medication, you must launder your pet’s bed, blankets and vacuum your home’s carpets to remove fleas and flea eggs from the environment. Otherwise, your pet may get re-infested.

As I mentioned above, never leave the pet home alone and don’t go to bed shortly after you’d administered the flea and tick medication. An allergic reaction can be deadly in a matter of minutes.

It’s important that you know the signs of an adverse reaction to flea and tick drops. Read our related article for information on the symptoms of a reaction to flea meds.

Photo Source: Skuglik 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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