Common Side Effects of Dog Flea Control Products

Flea control is a must for any home with a pet. A dog owner needs to be smart about maintaining a canine flea-free, but also smart about what dog flea control product to use as some have unwanted side effects. In 2008, over 1,000 deaths and over 40,000 severe reactions were reported as a result of flea control products in pets.

Flea Control Products Available

There are a variety of options a pet owner can choose when it comes to dog flea control: monthly topical “spot” solutions, sprays, shampoos, and pills or tablets. If a veterinary clinic does not administer the dog flea control product, and one purchases an item over-the-counter, dosing instructions should be strictly followed.

Many flea control products contain insecticides, which affect the nerves and muscles of this parasite. While veterinarian state flea control products for dogs are safe (even over-the-counter products), the EPA is studying these flea control aids for safety and efficacy.

Common Side Effects of Dog Flea Control Products

Many flea control product manufacturers state their products have a little to no side effects, but there are ingredients within them that have proven to be hazardous to a dog’s health. Side effects to a dog flea control product include irritation or redness where a topical product was placed, hair loss, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea.

Certain ingredients in flea control products have been known to cause more side effects than others. Permetherin is an example of this and can be found in some spot treatment products. It can cause itching where the medicine was placed, weakness, vomiting, and a change in a dog’s behavior such as hyperactivity or depression.

Resistance to flea products is also not uncommon. Flea shampoos for dogs, for example, contain toxins, insecticides, and neurotoxins to kill fleas. The dog’s immune system can weaken over time because of the toxins found in the shampoo. At the same time, fleas can build up more resistances against the ingredients in the flea shampoos with every new generation. Using spot treatment products along with a flea shampoo can cause an overdose because a dog will be getting several doses of toxins over a short period of time.

Side effects also occur in animals for which the product was not intended. For example, a 5-pound dog should not be given the same product a 50-pound dog would receive. Dogs should also not be given a product meant for another species of animal. Senior dogs and puppies may need to have special dosing instructions because of their weights and ages, with any health issues being taken into consideration, before a flea control product is given to them.

Most veterinarians agree that dog flea control products that can be purchased over-the-counter are the ones that have the most reported side effects. The reason for this is usually not because of the quality of the product—it’s because of misapplication on the part of the person administering the product. If a pet owner is not sure about what flea products is best for a dog, a veterinarian should be consulted so the proper flea control product can be purchased and administration instructions given.