Watch Tip: DEET is Poison for Dogs & Cats

Posted on July 17th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoTip for week of July 17:

Important: NEVER apply human bug repellents to your dogs or cats, especially those with DEET (Off®, Cutters®, Repel®, etc.). If a product label does not specifically state it is safe for use on a dog or cat, assume that it is toxic for either type of pet. Purchase and use products made specifically for dogs on dogs and for cats on cats. Teach your children and grandchildren about the dangers too.

Yes, they are family, but they are not human

Loving pet parents could find themselves in vet clinics, praying desperately for a miracle, because they naively sprayed a human insect repellent on their pet—or perhaps their uninformed child did it. Without thinking about the power of chemicals and the differences between our species, they created a tragedy.Veterinarians can tell many stories about the dogs and cats they have treated for DEET toxicity. This danger is widely known.

If your dog or cat that was sprayed or wiped with a DEET product and is showing symptoms such as skin irritation or burn, vomiting, tremors, staggering gait, seizures, you must immediately rush your pet to the vet for intensive care.

I understand very well how it can happen. Years ago I nearly killed my favorite tree in our yard, a young red oak tree, with Cutters spray. It was being attacked by large buzzing June bugs and I lost patience one evening. Without thinking, I angrily grabbed the first can of insect repellent I found and sprayed the tree thoroughly, hoping to kill the bugs. I felt immediate satisfaction about having taken action, but my heart dropped the next day when all the leaves fell off the poor tree. Thankfully the tree recovered and grew a new set of leaves before the summer ended. If the bugs had been chewing on my dog or cat, I shudder to think of what I might have done. That was one powerful chemistry lesson.

Protecting your pet from insects and the diseases insects carry is very important. If you haven’t already, resolve to visit a pet retailer soon to purchase specific repellents for your pets so you are prepared for your next outing. (Again, remember to use only dog products on dogs and cat repellents on cats.) There are many natural formulations available now. Also you can easily find recipes for home-made repellents online that just might work very well for your four-legged family.

Remember too that topical spot-on products purchased from your veterinarian and properly used may provide the protection your pet needs. Be aware that some sensitive dogs and cats won’t tolerate these products, so watch them carefully for 24 hours after applications. Also, near the end of the monthly use cycle, the products might lose some effectiveness in some environments.

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