Avoid poisonings when using flea treatments

Fleas: It’s a word no pet owner wants to hear. These little insects can cause your dog or cat lots of itching and scratching, and sometimes other health problems, such as hair loss, skin irritation, anemia, and tapeworms.There are many types of flea products: pills, collars, sprays, dips, shampoos, powders and spot-on products—a liquid you squeeze onto your pet’s skin between their shoulder blades or down their back. Talk to your veterinarian about which product is best for your pet. Whichever product you use, it’s important to take care when using flea treatments. Like any pesticide, a flea treatment can be harmful to your pet or family if not used correctly. Here are some tips for using flea products safely:

Cats scratching
CDC photo
  • Choose the right product for your type of pet, and your pet’s size. For example, a product intended for dogs may be harmful to cats, or a product for a bigger animal could be poisonous to a smaller one.
  • Read the product label before you use it each time and follow the directions exactly.
  • When possible, apply the product to your pet outdoors.
  • Keep your pet away from other animals and young children and avoid petting your pet until after the product dries.
  • Wash your hands after using a flea treatment product.
  • Store products up high, out of the reach of children and pets.

Watch your pet for side effects after you use the product. If your pet is acting unusual or seems sick call your veterinarian or contact the poison center—call 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511. Contact the poison center for treatment advice if you or a family member has any symptoms such as upset stomach, rash or trouble breathing.If your pet has a bad experience after you apply a spot-on product, give your pet a bath right away. Use mild soap and rinse with a lot of water. Then call your veterinarian.

Fleas in the Home

While you will likely spot adult fleas on your pet or elsewhere in your home, flea eggs or larvae may be hiding throughout your pet’s environment, usually in places like carpeting, bedding and under furniture edges. So if your pet has fleas, it’s important to do what you can to clean your home as well. Take these steps: 

  • Vacuum every day to remove fleas and their eggs and larvae. Concentrate on carpets and cushioned furniture, any cracks or crevices in the floor and along the baseboards.
  • Steam clean your carpets. The hot steam and soap kill fleas, eggs and larvae.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding, and any family bedding your pet sleeps on, in hot, soapy water.
  • Use a flea comb to remove fleas, flea feces and dried blood from your pet’s fur. Thoroughly comb the neck and tail area where most fleas are.
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