Permethrin products

Permethrin products available in the UK that can cause problems for cats

Spot-on flea and tick products designed for use in dogs that contain concentrated permethrin can kill cats.

Poisoning of cats can occur if these products are used on cats deliberately or by accident, or even if cats come into close contact with recently treated dogs. For full information see permethrin poisoning in cats – information for cat owners

Spot-on products containing concentrated permethrin can be deadly to cats

The UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate advises:

These products are intended for the treatment of fleas and ticks in dogs only. They contain permethrin, a substance that is safe for dogs but causes a toxic reaction in cats when present in spot-on products, due to its concentration. Cats treated with even small amounts of spot-on products containing permethrin, or allowed to groom dogs treated with any of the products in the list below, can develop nervous signs such as depression, drooling, tremors, seizures, vomiting and staggering, and can die.

Some pet owners apply spot-on products containing permethrin that are indicated for use in dogs to their cats by mistake, or because they think that it is safe if they use only small amounts of the product. It is not safe to use any spot-on product containing permethrin in cats. If you have applied any of the products listed below to your cat, it is important to wash off the product from the cat with water and a mild detergent and seek immediate treatment from your veterinary surgeon. Take the product package with you and show it to the veterinarian.

The VMD is actively monitoring the incidence of suspected adverse reactions to these products and requests that any incident be reported as soon as possible. Details of how to report a suspected adverse reaction can be found on the Adverse Reaction Reporting site.

Concentrated permethrin-containing spot-on products that are available in the UK and toxic to cats:

1. Products only available on prescription from vets

  • Advantix Spot On Solution for Dogs
  • Activyl Tick Plus for Dogs

2. Products available ‘over the counter’ at shops without the need for any advice:

  • Armitage Pet Care Flea and Tick Drops for Dogs 702mg Spot-on Solution
  • Beaphar Dog Flea and Tick Drops, 65% w/w, Cutaneous Solution
  • Bob Martin Dog Spot On Solution 744mg
  • Bob Martin Dog Spot On Solution 1488mg
  • Bob Martin Flea and Tick Spot On Solution 744mg
  • Bob Martin Permethrin Dog Spot On Exspot Insecticide for Dogs
  • Easi-drop Flea and Tick drops for Dogs (previously Hyperdrug Veterinary Flea and Tick Drops for Dogs 742 mg cutaneous solution)
  • Johnson’s Flea and Tick Drops 742mg for Puppies and Small Dogs, Cutaneous Solution
  • Johnson’s Insecticidal Flea and Tick Drops 742mg, Cutaneous Solution
  • Wilko Dog Flea Drops 65% w/w Cutaneous Solution

This information is taken from the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate website.

Details on products is also available through the Product Information Database on the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate web site.

3. Products with an expired licence, but which some owners may still have:

  • Bio-tech’s Anti-Flea and Anti-Tick Drops for Dogs
  • Bio-tech’s Flea and Tick Drops for Dogs
  • Hartz Control Pet Care System One Spot Flea and Tick Remedy for Dogs
  • Protect Spot Flea and Tick Drops for Dogs

This information is taken from the Product Information Database on the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate web site

4. Other products listed on the VMD site containing permethrin which should not be used on cats:

Shampoos

  • Beaphar Insecticidal Dog Shampoo
  • Bob Martin Permethrin Flea Shampoo for Dogs
  • Canovel Insecticidal Flea and Tick Shampoo and Conditioner for Dogs
  • Johnsons 4 fleas Shampoo for Dogs
  • Vetzyme Insecticidal Dog Shampoo

Sprays

  • Canovel Long Acting Flea and Tick Cutaneous Spray Solution
  • Defendog Cutaneous Spray Solution
  • Duowin Cutaneous spray for dogs

5. Some flea collars designed for cats and available from shops also contain permethrin:

While the concentration of permethrin in these collars is much lower, International Cat Care believes there are much safer and far more effective flea control methods than using collars containing permethrin on cats. While the concentration of permethrin in the collar alone should not cause problems, if the cat is also exposed to other sources of permethrin, the collar could contribute to poisoning.

  • Johnson’s Felt Cat Flea collar
  • Wilko Cat Felt Flea Collar
  • Armitage Pet Care Felt Flea Collar for cats
  • Beaphar Soft Cat Flea Collar
  • Bob Martin Catwalk Fashion Flea Collar for cats
  • Canac Soft Flea Collar for Cats

This information is taken from the Product Information Database on the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate website.

What about other countries?

Unfortunately, collecting information on permethrin-containing dog flea and tick spot-on products used in different countries is extremely difficult as many are available as ‘over the counter’ products made by different companies and using different trade names. Additionally, there are different ‘prescription only’ products (products available only from vets or pharmacists) in different countries.

Because of the risk of poisoning to cats with concentrated permethrin spot-on products, it is vitally important to always read the label carefully and find out what active ingredient a product contains. If you ever have any doubt, simply ask your vet.

What is International Cat Care doing to help?

International Cat Care has been actively involved in educating pet owners, members of the cat community and vets about feline permethrin toxicity, through conferences, letters and publications. We have also been campaigning to make the reporting of adverse events easier and for restrictions on the sale of permethrin products. We have also been campaigning for much clearer labelling and warnings to be added to all packaging of permethrin-containing flea products, and it is encouraging to see that this has been having some effect.

We have been active in discussing this problem with vets and veterinary organisations in many countries to help highlight the scale of the problem, and spread information about this important issue.

What can you do to help?

Help spread the word by letting your friends and colleagues know about this problem, and importantly, sign our petition for better regulation of concentrated permethrin-based flea products. Please encourage others to sign it too!

Be sure to always read product labels carefully, and if you are ever in doubt, contact your vet for advice.