Bayer manufactures two types of flea control that can easily be confused with one another, leading to lethal complications in our feline family members. Advantage has formulations approved for both dogs and cats, while the product Advantix is intended for use in dogs ONLY. The little kitten pictured to the right is an actual patient that we treated on Sept. 11, and happily, she went on to make a full recovery. It is my hope that this topic helps prevent any further accidental applications in our kitty companions.
What exactly is the difference?
Advantage is a topical ointment that can be applied to either your dog or cat’s skin once per month for flea prevention, and it contains the active ingredient imidacloprid.
Advantix, also known as K-9 Advantix, is a topical solution for the treatment and prevention of fleas, ticks, biting flies, mosquitoes and lice on dogs. The product’s active ingredients are imidacloprid and permethrin. It is the addition of the permethrin to the recipe that makes the deadly difference. Dogs and other mammals can metabolize permethrin effectively, resulting in a perfectly safe product for them. However, cats cannot metabolize this ingredient, and will suffer from toxic effects if exposed; this is known as a permethrin toxicity. Exposure to cats can happen in a variety of ways, including direct application, close contact with a dog that has been treated within the last 48 hours, or if they have groomed their doggy pals fur after it had an application.
Understandably, many owners innocently make the assumption that Advantix can be used on both dogs and cats, just like Advantage can. Well, I’m out to help everyone know that there is a difference.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of permethrin toxicosis will generally manifest themselves within a few hours, but it can take up to three days following the exposure or application of Advantix to your cat. Symptoms include tremors and twitching (sometimes just the ear tips!), hyperexcitability, drooling, depression, loss of coordination, vomiting, seizures, loss of appetite, and potentially death if not treated.
What is the treatment?
Treatment consists of decontamination of the skin with a bath, tremor and/or seizure control, and supportive care. One of the major concerns is an extreme elevation in the body temperature from the continuous muscle activity with tremors. Methocarbamol is the drug of choice to help control these tremors, and Valium is used for any seizure that may develop. These medications are given as needed by an intravenous injection to control the clinical signs. General supportive care takes the form of intravenous fluids to keep the cat hydrated, as well as vital sign monitoring and providing a safe environment so that it does not harm itself during the period of incoordination and disorientation. Clinical signs of tremors generally last for 12 to 24 hours but may persist for up to 72 hours.
Prognosis for recovery is excellent with early treatment.
If you have dogs and cats both, it is not advisable that you treat your dog’s parasites with Advantix mainly because accidents can occur. I often hear a distressed owner say that they “accidentally” applied the wrong one, so I feel that it is best just to take that risk out of the equation, especially when there are so many other flea control options available.
If you do use canine Advantix in a home with cats, ensure that you apply the medicine to your dog while your cat does not have access to the area or to the dog, and allow for the medicine to fully absorb into your dog’s skin before allowing your cat back into the same room. I have treated cats who were by nature obsessive groomers, and decided that the unkempt area of fur between “their dogs” shoulder blades needed to be cleaned.
And lastly, always double check labels and read all the fine print; you can even have someone just “double check you” as another safety precaution.
I cannot tell you how many times I have to treat this toxicity, and I hope that this topic will help shed some light on two easily confused flea products. See you next week at the pets corner of Patch!