Cyphenothrin Toxicity: Negative Reactions to Sergeant’s Gold Flea and Tick Squeeze-On in Dogs
Flea and Tick Product Toxicity in Dogs
I want to start out by saying that there are lots of websites and message boards online that tell you not to use Sergeant's Gold Flea and Tick Squeeze-On, and they are all correct; however, I (like many people) had not seen them when I did use this product and my dog experienced problems with it.
Prescription Products Can Be Expensive
In the course of this incident, I talked to quite a few people who advised me that over-the-counter flea products are worthless and dangerous and should never be used. That may very well be true, but I know that there are lots of people just like me who want to do something to keep fleas off their pets and simply do not have the money to buy prescription products from the vet.
I fully understand that choosing to buy OTC flea products is not necessarily a matter of not thinking your pet is worth the money (as many people will imply). It’s a matter of just not having the money. Although I now think you would be wise not to choose this particular product, the purpose of this article is not to tell you not to use it.
Know What to Do If Your Dog Has a Reaction
The purpose of this article is to tell you what to expect and what to do if you do use this product and your dog has problems. I am writing this article because when I was looking for just this kind of information online, I didn’t find it! So here’s what happened with me and my dog. I hope it’s helpful for you.
How to Find a Safe Product
When using over-the-counter flea products, it is important to protect yourself and your dog by:
- Doing your research first
- Asking your vet for advice
- Avoiding products containing cyphenothrin
- Keeping your receipts
- Keeping all packaging
- Reading instructions completely
- Applying the product carefully
- Staying with and observing your dog after application
Warnings and Side Effects for Flea Prevention
My Dog's Scary Reaction
There are many over-the-counter preparations for fighting fleas and ticks in dogs. I’ve used a variety of brands for a number of years without problems. I’ve heard that other people’s dogs have had negative reactions, but that has not been the case with my dogs; however, yesterday I got a little careless and neglected to read the application instructions before giving my dogs their first flea treatment of the flea season.
When the Symptoms Appeared
I applied Sergeant’s Gold Flea and Tick Squeeze-On as I had applied a different product last year in spots at the shoulder blades and base of the tail. This was at about 6 pm in the evening. All was well for several hours. I took my big dogs out for their walk, gave them dinner, and settled in for the evening. Then, my oldest dog, Daisy, began licking at the spot at the base of her tail. She began to gag and became very anxious, shaking, and acting like she wanted to jump out of her skin.
She was also drooling and seemed to be a little bit off-balance, but it was hard to tell if it was a reaction to the chemicals or just anxiety because she tends to be an anxious, shaky sort of dog anyway. She paced around the room and seemed like she didn’t want to put her feet on the floor.
Symptoms of Topical Flea Treatment Toxicity
Here's what to watch out for when using cyphenothrin and topical flea products in dogs. The following symptoms may indicate an adverse reaction:
- Hair standing on end
- Unsteady gait
- Tenderness in paws
- Seizures (in severe cases)
What to Do If Your Dog Shows Signs of Toxicity
Here's what to do if your dog has a negative reaction to cyphenothrin or any other topical flea product:
- Wash your dog thoroughly with warm water and dish soap (no bleach added).
- Keep your dog comfortable and keep a close eye on him/her.
- Make sure water is available and encourage your dog to drink.
- Do not induce vomiting.
- If no improvement is noted within 30 minutes, take your dog to the vet.
Call the Manufacturer to Report It
I called the number on the Sergeant’s package (1-800-781-4738) and it was answered right away by a woman who told me to wash all the product off of Daisy using dish soap (with no bleach added) and water and to take her to the vet if her symptoms worsened.
She said that the amount Daisy would have gotten licking it off one spot like that was not enough to do damage, but it would taste terrible and cause a tingling pins-and-needles sensation in the mouth and throat. The woman also gave me her name and a case number for future reference.
I washed Daisy off, made her comfortable, and looked up the chemical (cyphenothrin) online and found toxicity and regulatory information.
Warnings About Seargent's Gold Flea and Tick Product
It seems that this pesticide has caused problems in a number of dogs, but in small amounts, it is not fatal, and it doesn’t cause permanent damage except in large doses. The treatment recommended is to wash the affected area and to give water to the dog to dilute any of the product that has been swallowed. Instructions said not to induce vomiting.
Other instructions I located explained that, if washing did not help, you should take your dog to an emergency clinic where a medication called Robaxin (methocarbamol) would be given to stop the shaking and then the dog would be given IV fluids to help with a quick recovery.
Daisy’s symptoms started at about midnight, worsened for an hour (she experienced some weakness in her legs), and then became less and less until about 6:30 am when she got up and had some food and water.
What Our Veterinarian Had to Say
When I talked with my own vet in the morning, he said that if Daisy did not seem fully recovered by afternoon, she should come in for some IV fluids. I told him that she had been drinking well (but not excessively) on her own and seemed to be fine now, and he said that she probably was alright in that case. She ended up being okay after all.
Read Instructions on How to Apply the Treatment Properly
My other dogs did not have any problems with the treatment and I don’t think Daisy would have if I had applied it properly. I would say that washing the product off didn’t really help in this case because I don’t think it was the product on the skin that was causing a problem. It was the product that Daisy had ingested that caused the problem, and she just needed to drink lots of water and rest to get it out of her system.
So, I think in this case it was my own fault that there was a problem. I should have read the instructions before applying the product! With this squeeze-on flea deterrent, you are supposed to apply it on the back of the neck and the shoulders to halfway down the back so that the dog can’t lick it off. Information found online backs this up and says that in some cases where dogs had problems, it was because the product was not applied correctly.
Finding Cautionary Sites by Googling "Sergeant’s Gold"
There are quite a few sites that tell about various people having problems with Sergeant's Gold and Sergeant's Silver, even when they do apply it correctly. In fact, there are quite a few negative reviews of the product on Amazon.
In my opinion, it seems like many dogs are very sensitive to cyphenothrin and it’s best just to steer clear of it entirely!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.