Read the Label: Getting Flea and Tick Medication Right

Reading the label is something that everyone knows they should do but sometimes skip. This is something that’s critical when applying any medication to your pet. It’s worth the time to make sure you do it right.

There are six things you can do as a pet parent that will safeguard your pet.

  • Right Product, Right Species:

Dogs and cats are definitely not the same. A cat is not a small dog and a dog is not a big cat. These animals have their own physiology and sensitivities to things. Don’t use a product for dogs on cats, or a product for cats on dogs.

How will you know? Dog products have dogs on them. On the back there should be a picture of a cat with a red circle and a line through it, which means to not apply on cats. Cat products have cats on them.

  • Healthy Pet Only:

Apply medications to healthy pets. If your furkid is sick, talk to your veterinarian first.

On the label, it says not for use on debilitated animals, which means pets that are ill or under the weather. Signs in our pets could include an incomplete listing of signs such as not eating, not drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, a history of weight loss, history of illness, sneezing, coughing, and weakness. When in doubt make sure your pet is healthy before applying any medication.

  • Right Weight and Age:

Weight: Make sure that the medication fits your pet’s weight range. One way to do this is to weight yourself, then weigh yourself and your pet. Subtract your weight. Some scales will let you tare your weight to 0, so you can just weight you and your pet and get your pet’s weight.

Age: Make sure you follow the labeled instructions for your furkid’s age. Too young animals have different physiologies that are slightly immature and they may not be able to metabolize medications like adults. What’s aged? See my previous blog post. Older animals have increased risk of illnesses. Generally, animals greater than eight years for small dogs and cats and five years for giant breeds should not use these products without consulting their veterinarian.

  • Avoid Double Dosing:

Certain medications have similar mechanisms of action such as ingredients found in shampoos, spot-ons, collars and sprays. Adding more medications from different products or adding to the same spot-on doesn’t kill fleas faster but does put your pet at risk for an overdose. When in doubt, call your vet.

  • Separate Pets:

When using a topical product such as a spray or a spot-on, be sure you separate your pets. This allows for best absorption and prevents accidental ingestion of the medication that can happen when our pets groom each other. It’s always best to separate them for at least 12 to 24 hours after you dose with a topical product.

  • No Self-Dosing:

Not only is this a bad idea, it’s against the law. Why is it a big deal? Say you bought a giant breed dog size and applied some of it to your small dog – if you don’t get it right, you run the very real risk of overdosing. It’s always best to buy the right medication for the right pet.

When in doubt – Read the label and call with questions.

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