Treat Cat Who Took a Dog Tick/Flea Medication

Potential New Treatment for Common Poisoning in Cats


by Lorie Huston, DVM on December 26, 2012

Share on Twitter

Permethrin toxicity is one of the most common poisonings I see in cats in my veterinary practice. That’s why I got so excited when I saw this post on the Winn Feline Foundation blog about a potentially effective new method for treating permethrin toxicosis.

Permethrin is commonly used in flea and tick products for dogs. However, the compound is not particularly safe for cats. Most of the cats I see suffering from permethin poisoning are those whose owners mistakenly used a dog product on their cat. Unfortunately, many people simply don’t realize that cats metabolize medications differently than dogs and are sensitive to many chemicals which can be safely used for dogs. Permethrin is one of these chemicals.

The treatment in question is called intravenous lipid emulsion (IVLE). It has been used in the recent past to treat lipophilic poisons. Lipophilic poisons are those that tend to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats. I know that sounds complicated but some of the poisonings IVLE has been successfully used to treat include ivermectin toxicosis and local anesthetic overdoses.

Not much is known about how or why intravenouys lipid emulsion therapy works. At the current time, it is still an emerging technology that has not been terribly widely used. But it is a promising therapy, especially when it can be used in common poisonings like permethrin toxicosis.

While this study included only three cats (certainly not a large number of “test subjects”), all three cats “appeared to show accelerated resolution of clinical signs following lipid administration.” In these three cats, IVLE therapy was administered along with standard treatments. Because no specific antidote for permethrin exists, standard treatments have been limited in the past to decontamination (such as activated charcoal to adsorb the toxin) and symptomatic treatment.

Unfortunately, hospitalization is usually necessary for cats suffering from permethrin poisoning for several days and can become very expensive. According to the Winn post, “The authors suggest that lipid administration may also reduce hospitalization time and cost, and possibly prevent the decision to euthanize.”

Needless to say, a therapy which can save cats suffering from a potentially lethal poisoning is welcome, particularly when the therapy not only increases the chance of survival for the cat but also reduces the cost for the owner. Hopefully, further studies will support the findings in this study.


This article is posted and shared through the courtesy of the Pet Health Care Gazette