3 Differences Between Dog and Cat Flea Products

There are many differences between dog and cat flea products. It is important to be aware of these differences before making a purchase for your pet. Being uninformed about what you use on your animal can result in purchasing the wrong product and even causing harm to your pet. Below are the most common differences between dog and cat flea products.

1. Ingredients

The main difference between dog and cat flea prevention medications and shampoos is the main ingredient. Permethrin is a common insecticide that is found in dog flea prevention products. It can easily be confused with pyrethrin which is in most flea prevention products for cats. Permethrin is a stronger form of pyrethrin and can be toxic to cats because of its high levels. Flea products that contain permethrin are labeled "for dogs only" and should never be used on a cat. If you have a cat and a dog, it is important that direct contact between the two be limited after the dog is treated.

Ingredients that are recommended for effective flea treatment in cats are safe levels of insecticide to eliminate adult fleas. Insect Growth Regulators (commonly labeled as "IGRs") or Insect Development Inhibitors ("IDIs") prevent young fleas from developing into mature, biting insects. These ingredients are only effective on insects and are not harmful to mammals. Be cautious when it comes to flea prevention on senior or pregnant pets. Consult your veterinarian for non-insecticidal products.

2. Weight

The dosage in flea prevention products is based on weight. Purchase a product that is suitable for your pet's current weight. If you are unsure of your pet's weight, have them weighed at the veterinarian or groomer. If your pet is small enough, you can get an approximate weight on a home scale by first weighing yourself, then weighing yourself holding your pet and deducting to find the difference. Weight is another reason why it is unsafe to use a dog flea product on a cat. Most cats will weigh significantly less than a dog. Combined with their sensitive metabolism, using the wrong product can make your cat extremely ill.

3. Environment

Purchase a flea product based on your location. Flea prevention products may also include ingredients that repel mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. A cat who only lives indoors will need a less potent flea product than a dog who goes outdoors to eliminate. Research the most common insects in your area to determine the best product for your pet.

When it comes to purchasing a flea product for your dog or cat, remember the following:

  • Read the label. Ingredients found in flea products will determine what insects are targeted.
  • Never apply a dog flea product on a cat. Cat's have a sensitive metabolism that is greatly affected by the high levels of insecticide found in dog flea prevention products.
  • Weigh your animal before making your purchase to find the correct dosage.
  • Research your local insect population to determine what your animal needs protection against.
  • Be cautious when using flea prevention on senior or pregnant animals. Consult your veterinarian for methods of flea control that don't use insecticides.