April 7, 2022

Common Dog and Cat Flea Meds are Poisonous to Rabbits, Warns Pet Poison Helpline

For many adults, Easter is time of joyous celebration and hope. To children, it’s also a season filled with wonder, Easter egg hunts and… bunnies! If you have a pet rabbit, or are considering getting one, the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline have an important warning.

“People often get new bunnies for their families at Easter, so we thought it would be a perfect time to remind pet lovers about the dangers of using dog and cat medications on their rabbit,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. “For example, a common mistake many rabbit owners make is using dog or cat topical medication on their floppy-eared family member. One chemical commonly used in commercial flea and tick topical medication in the form of sprays and ‘spot-ons’ is fipronil, which is extremely toxic to rabbits. Exposure can result in central nervous system signs including seizures and difficulty walking, as well as loss of appetite. In some cases, the exposure is fatal.”

Kristi Johnston, a rabbit owner and lover from Wilsonville, OR, found out the hard way what happens when you use over-the-counter flea and tick products on your hare.

“Our cat Luna gave Albus fleas, so we wanted to treat him,” Johnston explained. “We got the first product from our veterinarian, but it didn’t clear up the fleas completely, so I bought a new over-the-counter brand from the store. After a while, we could tell something was wrong. He wasn’t eating, and he started shaking. We called the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline, and they advised us to immediately rinse and wipe him off and seek further treatment. We then took him to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin, where they gave him several baths, intravenous fluids for hydration and medication for his seizures. They kept him hospitalized for 48 hours for treatment and observation, but he made a full recovery and is back at home.”

“Albus’ tale is a perfect reminder to check with your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline before giving your rabbit medications designed for other pets,” Schmid added. “It’s always a good idea not to share medication with multiple pets in your household. Even if they are the same species, they can have different reactions to specific medications based on varying underlying conditions or require different dosages.”

Pet Poison Helpline created Toxin Tails to educate the veterinary community and pet lovers on the many types of poisoning dangers facing pets, both in and out of the home. All the pets highlighted in Toxin Tails have been successfully treated for the poisoning and fully recovered.

Based in Minneapolis, Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online.

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