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Can Cats Take Flea and Tick Medication for Dogs?

Is It OK to Give Milo some of Otis's Flea Meds?

By Kim Compton. January 01, 2011 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Can Cats Take Flea and Tick Medication for Dogs?

Is it really important to give cats and dogs different flea and tick medication, or are they interchangeable?

No, cats cannot safely take flea and tick medication meant for dogs.

Step away from the one-step. Using canine products to treat a cat problem such as fleas is a common, but incredibly dangerous practice when it comes to preventative pet care. While both animals fall under the furry friend umbrella, cats and dogs are in the separate but equal category wherever health is concerned.  

Most common canine flea and tick prevention medicines are in fact toxic to cats. K9 Advantix, for example, contains the ingredient permethrin, which can cause feline fatalities if ingested. Products containing permethrin or any product labeled ‘for dogs only’ should never be used on cats, plain and simple. Even allowing your cat in a close or enclosed area with a dog that has been recently treated with flea and tick medicine can have serious health-related consequences if  accidentally ingested. As a rule of thumb, it is best to keep your dog and cat separated for the first 12-24 hours after using any spot-on products or environmental preventatives.

Why Can't Dogs and Cats Take the Same Medicine?

Simply put, cats and dogs need different medicines because they have very unique metabolic systems. They digest and metabolize everything differently, from food to medicine and everything in between. For example, it is a known fact that dogs can become seriously ill from ingesting chocolate. Meanwhile, cats, who are known to have a more sensitive stomach, can enjoy the sweet treat without any side effects. 

While cats cannot take dog flea and tick products, there are a few products that are made specifically for cats and dogs. When applicable, this information will be prominently displayed on the label. Always make sure your product says it is safe for cats and check with your vet if you are at all uncertain.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by,your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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