As a protective and responsible pet owner, you must do your best to keep your pet safe. A significant part of pet safety and even owner safety is having proper flea and tick control in place. There are countless medications available for flea control, but you will want to find an option that works best for your pet’s needs. Sometimes, pet owners become concerned as their dog begins freaking out or showing weird behaviors when they are given flea treatments.
Often, the reasoning behind these strange behaviors is simply the pet is uncomfortable with having the treatment applied to their skin. However, there are sometimes that your pet may be showing more serious signs of an allergic reaction or even intoxication from the medication.
A lot of how you respond to how your dog acts is the level at which your dog’s behavior changes and the reactions you are seeing. If you are noticing a major response to the medication, such as extreme lethargy, vomiting, or other noticeable health concerns, immediate vet action is necessary. It is up to you to monitor your pet and ensure that you see no significant alarms after the medication has been given.
Side Effects of Flea Treatment
There are some things that you should expect from your dog when you apply flea treatments. Some very common side effects that can come with flea medication for your pup are:
- Scratching After Application – When you use flea medication, the fleas tend to become hyperactive. This may make your dog feel irritated and lead to unwanted scratching. As long as they are not scratching to the point of harm, this should go away quickly and be fine.
- Mild Lethargy – If your dog seems a little sleepier than usual or keeps to themselves more often after flea treatment, this is also common. Your dog should not act lethargic for days but being a little more standoffish hours after the application is usually fine.
- Running, Biting at Self, Rolling – Some erratic behaviors can be expected for pets and is usually a simple annoyance to the medication. However, you do not want these behaviors to become too excessive.
Of course, with all medications, you may notice more severe reactions from your pet, and this is when you will want to become concerned. Some common, more alarming issues are:
- Symptoms of Allergies – More obsessive scratching can be a sign of an allergic reaction for your pet. You will want to pay close attention to scratching and ensure that it does not become harmful to your pet. If the scratching goes on for longer than a few hours, you may be dealing with allergies.
- Poisoning or Intoxication – We will go into further detail about these very harmful reactions, but any severe signs of poisoning or intoxication should get immediate help.
In other words, if you see more dramatic physical reactions in your pet, you will want to seek expert help from the vet as soon as possible.
What is Flea Treatment Intoxication?
If you have noticed that your dog has more severe reactions to flea medication, you will want to pay closer attention to these responses. While some may not be as intense, any noticeable reactions should be brought up to your vet. You should also get professional help with severe reactions.
Some signs that your dog may be having more severe medication intoxication are:
- Allergic Reactions – This will include signs of severe itching, rashes, swelling, watery or red eyes. You may also see some respiratory issues like shortness of breath, congestion, and coughing.
- Mild Reactions – Some milder reactions to the medication that may still need medical assistance are drooling, muscle twitches, paw flicking, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Severe Reactions – Some more intense reactions that you may notice include recurring vomiting and diarrhea. Some longer-term responses are depression, lack of coordination, nosebleeds, and seizures.
If you believe that your dog has medication intoxication, you will want to consult with your vet as soon as possible. You should take the medication with you when you go to the vet and give them information on how often and much you provided to your pet. Keep notes of the symptoms you have seen and the frequency of these symptoms to help inform the doctor of your dog’s needs.
Things Not to Do If Your Pet Gets Sick
If your pet seems sick from their flea treatment, it can be hard to watch them and can lead to less than necessary reactions. You want to remain calm as your pet often looks to you for guidance, and your mood can deeply affect theirs. You want to monitor the situation and get help as soon as you feel necessary; it is better to get help quickly than wait too long.
However, some things that you should avoid doing when you notice your dog has an adverse reaction are:
- Do NOT Underestimate the Symptoms You are Seeing – A preventative call is a must if you are noticing any symptoms. At least speak to a vet, even if they tell you it is no major issue. It is better to be safe than sorry!
- Do NOT Induce Vomiting – Speak to a professional before ever trying to induce vomiting.
- Do NOT Throw Away the Medication – Even if you plan never to use the medication again, keep the packaging. Even minor symptoms should be brought up at the next vet check, and the medicine box will provide information for the vet.
- Do NOT Offer the Medication Again – Even if the symptoms do not last for longer than a few hours or days, do not risk giving the medication again. Consult your veterinarian before giving any flea medication for assistance and guidance.
When is it Time to Switch Flea Treatments?
There are several signs you should look out for that will let you know that the medicine is to blame for your dog’s behavior, and it’s time to switch:
- If one form of treatment, such as topical treatments, are causing an adverse reaction in your dog, you may want to switch to a new method, such as oral flea medicines.
- You may notice that your dog’s reactions are getting more severe over time with regular flea treatments; this is an excellent time to make a switch before harm comes to the pet. This is because the response to the remedies can start to become psychological or even physical.
- Some things that you will want to keep in mind is that using lower quality products, expired treatments, or treatments not designed for your dog’s size may result in more dramatic reactions. Make sure you’re using up-to-date, good quality treatments fit for your dog’s size and breed.
Of course, after a visit to the vet, they may recommend that you switch treatment options if your dog has recently experienced a severe reaction to previous treatment.
Other Options for Flea Prevention
If you have noticed your dog is struggling after flea treatment often, you may want to seek alternative medication options. There are some natural options, but these can be hard to maintain. This is even more difficult in areas that are abundant in fleas and ticks and during summer months.
It is critical that you use proper flea prevention as you do not want your dog to become overwhelmed with the bugs. If you have an indoor pet, this also puts your family at risk of being bitten, and fleas can quickly multiply in a home. However, some alternative options you can use if you have noticed the negative side effects of traditional flea medications are:
- Oral Flea Prevention – These are pill forms of flea prevention that can be less harmful than the topical options for many pets. You usually have to have these prescribed by a vet and can be more expensive than the over the counter choices. However, for dogs with severe reactions, this can be a great option.
- Check Ingredients and be Cautious – If your vet can identify the main ingredient that is causing an adverse reaction, you may be able to find topical options that do not use that particular ingredient. You want to read labels and try to find medications that use s-Methoprene or pyriproxyfen as these are less toxic chemicals. Some medicines are packed with ingredients that are not only not necessary but can be more harmful to your pet when taken regularly.
- Get the Right Product for Your Pet – NEVER put dog medication on a cat or vice versa, as this can lead to the treatment not working correctly or even death. You want to get a flea treatment that fits your dog’s weight, as using a product for a dog larger can lead to issues.
- Stick to Natural Products for Young Pups – If you have a puppy, utilize more natural products until they reach the age required for traditional topical treatments. Even regular soap and water baths can help remove fleas.
Some reactions to flea medication are normal and usually involve your dog being annoyed by the product. However, if you notice more severe reactions to flea treatment, you need to seek medical help immediately as severe reactions can occur. If your dog’s reactions are becoming very erratic, you can seek alternative flea prevention methods.