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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Permethrin-based antiparasitic medicinal products for dogs should not be applied to cats

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News of 08/07/2013

In the context of the veterinary drug monitoring plan that ANSES has implemented via the French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products,  serious and even lethal adverse reactions in cats treated with topical antiparasitic treatments containing permethrin used for treating dogs are regularly reported.  With the arrival of summer, the period when antiparasitic treatment of pets is the most common, the Agency is issuing an advisory to cat owners warning them not to treat their cats with veterinary medicinal products containing permethrin.

 

 

With summer upon us, many pet owners have begun treating their animals with topical antiparisitics.  The French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products (ANMV) is therefore issuing an advisory to warn people that these products - for sale in pharmacies, through veterinarians and in supermarkets, garden centres, pet shops, etc. - are not without danger.  Special caution should be taken when using antiparasitic products for dogs containing permethrin, a substance which is toxic for cats. These products can cause neurological disorders (trembling, convulsions) which can be fatal in cats, due to cats' inability to eliminate certain compounds including permethrin.  With certain concentrated forms, such as products sold in pipettes, just a few drops are enough to cause severe adverse effects in sensitive animals. 

 

Despite warnings, accidents continue to be reported

In the context of the veterinary drug monitoring plan implemented via the French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products, ANSES has been receiving reports for several years of serious and even lethal adverse reactions in cats treated with topical antiparasitic products containing permethrin. Thanks to information campaigns implemented by the Agency since 2006 and targeting veterinarians and pet owners, as well as labelling changes on the products which highlight the fact that they are strongly counter-indicated for use on cats, there has been a sharp drop in the number of poisonings since 2007. However, despite these measures, accidents continue to occur every year.  In 2012, the Agency registered 258 declarations of adverse effects in cats following administration of treatments containing permethrin. 121 of these cases were considered severe and 16 deaths were reported. 

 

Advice to prevent poisoning

Within this context, the Agency advises cat owners not to treat their cats with veterinary medicinal products containing permethrin (list available at www.anses.fr and at the end of this article - product names in French).

In the event of accidental exposure to permethrin, if adverse effects are observed, the cat should be washed with shampoo or soap and the advice of a veterinary practitioner should immediately be sought. 

To prevent cats from accidentally being exposed to permethrin in homes where dogs and cats cohabit, dogs treated with permethrin should be kept separate from cats until the application of the antiparasitic treatment on the dog's body has dried, and cats should be prevented from licking the application areas on the treated dog. 

Rare cases have also been reported after use of certain antiparasitic products for dogs (especially those in spray format) for the treatment of cat bedding and cushions.

 

 

The French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products (ANMV), under the authority of ANSES's Director General, ensures all of the missions entrusted to it in the field of veterinary pharmaceuticals. To carry out these missions, it has been given scientific assessment, surveillance and decision-making powers. Among its tasks, it is in charge of providing authorisations for veterinary medicinal products. It coordinates inspections of veterinary pharmaceutical companies and monitors the pharmacovigilance system. It also provides drug quality monitoring and control missions.