Proper Application of Dog Products
By Jennifer Kvamme, DVM
An important part of basic health care for dogs is providing preventive products to avoid infestations of fleas and ticks. Keeping your dog free of infestations not only prevents discomfort, it can also prevent some of the illnesses that can be acquired from these blood sucking parasites. Choosing the proper products and using them in a proper fashion is very important. Here we will discuss ways to keep your dog, yourself, and others safe when using these products.
When deciding which flea and tick products to use on your dog, you need to carefully read the labels on all products. It’s very important you purchase the correct dosage for your dog, and that you use only approved products for your dog’s particular age, weight, health status, and species. Use special care if your dog is very young, very old, pregnant, nursing, sick or debilitated, or if it has had a previous sensitivity to any of these products.
Dogs should only be given flea and tick products designed for use on dogs. While they may not be harmful, products made for cats may not be as effective on dogs. If you also have a cat, do not use your dog products on your cat, as they can be harmful to a cat’s health. Always ask your veterinarian’s advice, even when you are planning to purchase your flea and tick products from a pet store or online supplier.
Tips for Application
Once you’ve read all the directions for proper application, be sure that you use only the amount required for your dog. Do not use more flea and tick product than indicated and do not use more than one product at one time. One flea and tick product (spot-on or spray, etc.) should be all that is necessary to kill or repel fleas and/or ticks for the time period indicated on the package.
To prevent accidental contact with topical products during application, disposable gloves can be worn to protect your skin. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after application can also reduce exposure to the chemicals. Keep children from touching or playing with the dog after application to allow the product time to absorb or dry, and read the instructions for proper disposal of empty product containers after use.
In households with multiple animals, it may be necessary to keep the animals apart for a time while the product dries to prevent them from grooming each other and ingesting the chemicals.
Monitor for Adverse Effects
For the several hours following application of a flea and tick preventive product, keep an eye on your dog for any reactions or sensitivity to the product. This is especially important when using a particular flea and tick product for the first time on your dog.
Keep the packaging for the product for at least a day after application so that you have information on the kind of ingredients used, as well as contact information for the company that manufactured the product.
Signs of sensitivity to pesticides include:
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Stumbling or incoordination (ataxia)
- Drooling excessively or foaming at the mouth
- Trembling (seizures)
- Lack of appetite
- Severe depression
If you notice any unusual behavior shortly after applying a preventive product, call your veterinarian immediately. Bathe your dog completely in soapy water and rinse its coat with copious amounts of water.
Due to increased incidents of reactions to spot-on products in dogs and cats, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about their use in 2009. The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together to improve safety and reduce adverse effects in pets. In order to do this, the EPA is working to address certain aspects of safety, such as improving labeling and simplifying instructions on packaging. They are monitoring any reports of adverse effects and keeping track of incidence reports.
If you believe your dog has had an adverse reaction to a flea or tick preventive product, call your veterinarian and report the problem right away. Your veterinarian has access to a national reporting center that will inform the EPA. You may also wish to inform the company that manufactured the product. All manufacturers are required to report any incidents to the EPA. Contact information should be clearly indicated on the packaging for the product
Working with your veterinarian and carefully reading labels will help you to reduce the incidence of reactions to flea and tick preventive products. Make sure you know your dog’s correct weight and the proper application technique. If you are careful, the possibility is much lower that your dog will experience any adverse effects.