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What is Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity?

Not only do fleas and ticks cause intense itching and skin irritation, but they can also transmit various diseases like tapeworm, Rickettsia (both from fleas), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease (both from ticks). Because of these potentially serious illnesses, ridding your dog, and your home of these pests is important and very desirable. Prevention in the first place is a necessity also, and the use of insecticides is the method that works the best. However, toxicity from the improper or careless use of these products is a valid concern.

Flea and tick medicines contain insecticides (also called ectoparasiticides) that can be toxic if not applied correctly, if applied in larger doses than are safe, or if they are accidentally ingested. Most products used to eliminate fleas and ticks are topical applications and are applied to the back of the neck.

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Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity Average Cost

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Symptoms of Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity in Dogs

The are a great number of pesticides used in the products typically applied on dogs; they can cause varying degrees of toxicity. Most of the time, flea and tick medicine poisoning occurs due to the ingestion (whether accidentally or intentionally) of the medicine, as opposed to the application. However, poisoning can occur due to application only. A small sample of the ectoparasiticides is listed here.

  • Pyrethrins and pyrethroids
    • Vomiting
    • Tremors
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Profuse drooling
    • Weakness
    • Tearing of the eyes
    • Diarrhea
  • More severe cases of poisoning from pyrethrins and pyrethroids can show these additional symptoms:
    • Depression
    • Fever
    • Low body temperature
    • Disorientation
    • Respiratory failure can be followed by death

Symptoms of Indoxacarb and Organophosphates include:

  • Indoxacarb
    • Excessive drooling
    • Weakness
    • Depression
    • Abnormal walk and movement
    • Inability to stand
    • Head tilt
  • Organophosphates
    • Profuse drooling
    • Small pupils (miosis)
    • Frequent urination
    • Muscle contractions (fasciculation)
    • Lack of coordination
    • Weakness
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Nervousness
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Collapse can precede death

We must stress that products designed to be used as repellents or eliminators of fleas and ticks can not be used on cats. The reaction is much more severe, and the consequences can be dire.

Types
  • Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids
    • Pyrethrum, used to make these compounds which are used in flea and tick medicines, is extracted from the chrysanthemum plant
  • Indoxacarb (Oxadiazines)
    • This compound is in a chemical class use in crop pesticides
    • It is used alone in products for flea control, and in combination with permethrin in tick control
  • Organophosphates
    • These are derivatives of phosphoric, or phosphoric acid, and vary greatly in residual degree and toxicity
    • Flea collars can contain this product

The list of compounds used in flea and tick medicine is extensive, with others included being isoxazolines (the first oral flea and tick product), and chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds (used in dipping treatments), to name just two.

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Causes of Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity in Dogs

The reaction your pet may have to flea and tick medicine depends on many factors.

  • Age can be a factor if the medicine is used on puppies that are under the recommended age for safe use
  • Combining products in hopes that “more is better” can be a bad idea due to contraindication of the medicines
  • Poisoning can happen when the label is not read properly, and directions are ignored
  • Using too high a dosage for the size of the dog can cause a toxic reaction
  • Some pet owners may use a small amount of a tube meant for large dogs on their small dog to save money, not realizing that the dosage and strength can be wrong for a small canine
  • Ingestion of flea and tick medicine, whether by eating oral tablets or licking off a topical application, can be dangerous
  • Using an insecticide meant for humans (such as DEET for ticks and mosquitoes), in hopes that it will kill fleas or ticks on your dog can be a critical mistake
  • If an unregulated over the counter medicine is used, or an out of date product is used, the regulations of the usage and safety could have changed
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Diagnosis of Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity in Dogs

The onset of signs that your dog has been poisoned by a topical, dip, oral, spray, or collar flea and tick medicine can range from a few hours to a few days. When you use a substance containing an ectoparasiticide on your canine family member, always record the amount, day, and time of use. A reaction can occur at any time, even if your pet has had the product used on him before.

When you bring your pet to the veterinary clinic, the care team will ask for the history of what product was used, and when it was applied or given. If possible, bring the container or packaging with you.

Your veterinarian will base her diagnosis on clinical signs, a urine sample, and a serum blood test. Detection through urine or blood is not always definitive. This is why bringing the packaging is so important. At the very least, be aware of the name of the product and how much you used, if possible.

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Treatment of Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity in Dogs

The protocol for the poisoning remedy will depend on many factors.

  • The degree of toxicity your pet is experiencing
  • Which product was used to eliminate or prevent the fleas and ticks
  • How long ago the medicine was applied or given orally
  • The age and the health of your dog before the poisoning occurred

Many of the hundreds of compounds used in flea and tick medicines adversely affect the nervous, muscular, neurological and respiratory systems of your pet when overdosed. Treatment will depend on which systems have been disturbed, and what functions are in need of correction. Some of the methods and medications used for detoxifying your dog are listed below.

  • If the toxicity is affecting the skin, a bath to remove the product will be done
  • Some compounds require inducing vomiting, where others are best not to have vomiting brought on
  • Medication to empty the bowel is sometimes given
  • Seizure drugs or muscle relaxants may be appropriate
  • Active charcoal is often used to bind and eliminate stomach contents
  • Intravenous for medication administration could be necessary
  • Oxygen might be required if your dog is having trouble breathing
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Recovery of Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity in Dogs

Using flea and tick medicine for the elimination and prevention of these pests is a necessity in order to keep our beloved animal family members (and us) healthy and happy. However, caution is key to preventing poisoning.

Always purchase flea and tick products from your veterinary clinic. Doing so will ensure that you are using regulated, tested medicines. This will also give you the added security of safe dosage amounts because your veterinarian will tell you how much to use based on the age, health condition and weight of your dog.

Follow the directions of your veterinarian to the letter. Never use dog flea and tick products on other animal family members. Do not combine medicines in the hopes that the flea or tick problem will be resolved sooner.

Wash your hands after handling or applying flea and tick medicine, and be sure to store the medicines safely, out of the reach of pets and children.

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Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,200

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Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Coton de Tulear

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

I used k9 advantage on her for fleas on Tuesday. Saturday morning she started vomiting. She has vomit 5 times that I know of. Its yellow. I'm not sure if its from the flea meds or something else. Trying to decide if I should take her to a emergency vet. She's moving around good.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that she is feeling better. If she is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 15, 2020

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Mountain Fiest

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Subdued

it has been 24 hrs since I put Hartz brand flea drops on my dog. Tonight I came hom from work and he seemed subdued. He has used this brand before with no side effects. He is walking fine and responsive but just not as hyper as usual

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. He may be having a reaction to the drops, or there might be something else going on with him. If he is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 18, 2020

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Brussels Griffon

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tired

I applied pet amor flea medicine for small dogs on my Brussels griffin mix. She instantly got tired.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that she is okay. I probably wouldn't use that product for her anymore. Your veterinarian can let you know which products might be safer for her.

Oct. 19, 2020

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Red heeler lab mix

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Twenty Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomit, Crying, Can’T Barely Hold Her Head Up, Shaking, Won’T Eat Or Drink Anything, Keeps Shying Away From Everyone And Normally She’S A Very Social Dog, And Feels Extremely Warm To The Touch.

I usually do a monthly liquid flea and tick treatment. I did it on the 15th. While my step sister was puppy sitting she sprayed her with a zodiac flea and tick spray. Every since then she’s not been herself. She hasn’t eaten and won’t drink anything. She won’t let anyone touch her. She’s drooling and shaking like crazy and has trouble holding her head up.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. Some flea treatments can be quite hard on small puppies and dogs. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 22, 2020

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Dachshund

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Thirteen Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting, Diarrhea

I’m afraid we may have given our dog too much flea medicine. I don’t know what kind it was, but it was from the dollar store. He got treated last night, and this morning threw up one and has had looser stool, but not super runny on 2 occasions.

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 25, 2020

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Callie

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Papillon

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12 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Drooling
Watery Eye
Won’T Eat

I gave my dog Frontline plus Sunday night, she seemed fine until Wednesday. She woke up acting very lethargic and not wanting to eat or drink. Later that night she started drooling more than usual then I realized that it might be the Frontline so I washed her in dish soap. She woke up a little better and started drinking again but she still doesn’t want to eat much other than a bite or two of chicken or tuna maybe once a day. She’s still lethargic and has a watery eye. I’m suspecting that maybe the medicine is causing stomach problems? What should I do?

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Doodle

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Havanese

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Tremors, Fever, Depression

My happy and healthy 20 lbs 8 y.o. Havanese have never had issues with any preventative meds until I put this poison on him. Three day later, he is still having tremors, twitching, respiratory issues, fever, and depression. In the past three days, we spent one night in the emergency room and today at his regular vet. Stay away from this poison, and buy a good tick collar or chewable alternative instead. And if they ever tell you it is harmless to apply carcinogenic neurotoxins, ask them to demonstrate that point by applying them on their children first.

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Talloom

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terrier

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking Cold

Tired new flea control TevraPet.Used proper weight dosage for my 7 lbs terrier mix. 24hours later my dog is shaking like he is cold. I don't have vet should I take him in?

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Bee

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Blue Heeler/Bloodhound Mix

dog-age-icon

7 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

Hello, I was bathing my dog who is 7 weeks and accidentally used Advantage treatment flea and tick shampoo. Once I realized my error I rinsed it off completely and then put Palmolive to rinse off residue oil. This was around 7am-8am. The whole day my dog didn’t show any symptoms of toxicity and seemed perfectly fine, but I am concerned that symptoms might become apparent in the next few days? Will my dog be fine? I’m just really concerned that the toxins were absorbed through his skin or worse. I am concerned that I may be overthinking this.

dog-name-icon

Bee

dog-breed-icon

Blue Heeler/Bloodhound Mix

dog-age-icon

7 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

Hello, I was bathing my dog who is 7 weeks and accidentally used Advantage treatment flea and tick shampoo. Once I realized my error I rinsed it off completely and then put Palmolive to rinse off residue oil. This was around 7am-8am. The whole day my dog didn’t show any symptoms of toxicity and seemed perfectly fine, but I am concerned that symptoms might become apparent in the next few days? Will my dog be fine? I’m just really concerned that the toxins were absorbed through his skin or worse. I am concerned that I may be overthinking this.

Pyrethrin and Pyrethroid Toxicity Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,200

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