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Flea Collar Poisoning in Cats: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment

Flea Collar Poisoning in Cats: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment | BetterVet

Are you aware of the potential downsides and side effects of flea collars on your cat? If you answered no, you're not alone. Many pet owners are unaware that collars used to treat fleas in cats can be poisonous.

Though flea collars can be an effective way to control fleas on cats, they also pose serious and potentially fatal health risks. In this article, we'll discuss the signs and symptoms of flea collar poisoning in cats, as well as alternative treatment options.

What Is Flea Collar Poisoning in Cats?

Most flea collars for cats slowly expose your cat to toxic chemicals. The chemicals used in flea collars can lead to cat flea collar poisoning, which can cause severe symptoms in your cat. Flea collars can use a range of chemical-based insecticides and pesticides, which can put your cat in danger.

Many flea collars contain a dangerous chemical known as Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), an organophosphate insecticide that interrupts a flea’s central nervous system. This harmful chemical is hazardous to your pet and can transfer from your cat to furniture, children's toys, and sometimes directly to humans. Other flea collars also contain an ingredient known as permethrin, which is dangerous to your cat's liver.

While flea collars are intended to treat fleas in cats, they pose a real risk. Talk with a BetterVet veterinary doctor to discuss better, non-toxic flea treatment and prevention methods for your cat.

Signs of Cat Flea Collar Poisoning

A poisonous flea collar may cause your cat to act differently. If you notice one or more of the following signs, your cat may need flea collar poisoning treatment. Cat flea collar poisoning can sometimes present within minutes of exposure but may be delayed several days in some cats.

Some common signs of cat flea collar poisoning include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Agitation
  • Hiding
  • Weakness and falling over
  • Muscle tremors
  • Small pupils 

Symptoms of Flea Collar Poisoning in Cats

Symptoms of flea collar poisoning can vary depending on the type of flea collar but most often include:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weakness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Paralysis
  • Chemical burns
  • Seizures
  • Excessive scratching from skin irritation
  • Death, if left untreated

If using a pyrethrum-based flea collar, the most common signs include muscle tremors and excessive salivation. Flea products with organophosphates can be rapidly fatal, depending on the ingredients. Not only is flea collar poisoning dangerous to your cat, but it can also be dangerous to the children and adults in your family who are close to the cat.

Treating Flea Collar Poisoning in Cats

Cats who have fleas may develop flea allergic dermatitis, one of the ten most common cat diseases every cat parent should be aware of. This condition causes your cat to experience intense itching from an allergic reaction to flea bites. Using pet flea collars is not effective for treating fleas in cats. Instead, your BetterVet veterinarian can prescribe safer treatments, such as topical or oral medications, to kill fleas.

Treating your cat for fleas is also important to help prevent infections that can pass from cats to humans, such as Cat Scratch Disease.

If your cat has already been exposed to a flea collar and developed flea collar poisoning, seek treatment as soon as possible. Flea collar poisoning treatment will depend on the type of collar used and the severity of symptoms. Possible treatments your veterinarian may prescribe include anti-nausea medications, IV muscle relaxers, or IV fluids. Sometimes, your cat's veterinarian may need to run blood work to gather more information about your cat's condition.

The sooner your cat is treated for flea collar poisoning symptoms, the better. If your cat is experiencing tremors or twitching, hospitalization may be recommended. Without treatment, flea collar poisoning in cats can be serious, cause permanent neurological symptoms, and, in some cases, can be fatal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is flea collar poisoning fatal in cats?

Flea collar poisoning can be fatal if left untreated or treated too late in cats. If you suspect any potential for flea collar poisoning in your cat, seek help from a veterinary doctor right away. When you need your pet seen quickly, BetterVet offers same-day sick visits to ensure your cat is seen as soon as possible.

How does a cat get poisoned by a flea collar?

Flea collars that contain permethrin, which your cat's liver cannot effectively break down. Since cat livers are inefficient at breaking down this ingredient, the substance can begin to build up in their bloodstream when wearing a flea collar. This can eventually lead to cat flea collar poisoning.  Other flea collars with pesticides also pose health risks to your pet.

Can all flea collars poison cats?

All flea collars currently on the market pose a risk to cats. BetterVet recommends other safer and more effective flea treatment and prevention methods. For example, we may recommend monthly oral preventatives such as NexGard or topical on-skin products such as Frontline or Advantage, which are safe and effective cat flea treatments.

Do I need to visit an emergency animal hospital if my cat has flea collar poisoning? 

If your cat exhibits any life-threatening symptoms, such as trouble breathing or seizures, immediately take them to an emergency animal hospital immediately.

If you suspect your cat has flea collar poisoning, make an appointment to see your veterinary doctor immediately. In severe cases, they may recommend your pet stay in an animal hospital. Most cases can be treated without a visit to an emergency animal hospital.

Ask a BetterVet Veterinarian About Cat Flea Collar Poisoning  

Are you concerned about flea collar poisoning for your cat? Book an appointment with BetterVet, a mobile veterinary practice that comes right to you for both sick pet visits and wellness visits.

We also offer video consultations that allow you to connect with a veterinary doctor from the comfort of your home. Don't forget to make sure your cat is up-to-date with their preventative vaccinations!

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