Amitraz Toxicity in Cats

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Amitraz is an effective insecticide used in some brands of dog tick collars and topical solutions. It readily kills ticks and mites, but it is also used to treat demodectic mange. This type of tick collar is not recommended for use in cats. The cats most commonly affected by amitraz toxicity are those that have an amitraz based tick collar placed on them by mistake.

Within about two to six hours of wearing or licking the tick collar, your cat becomes weak and lethargic. Without treatment, coma may result. In severe untreated cases, toxicity may result in death.

What to Watch For

  • Vomiting
  • Staggering
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation.

    Veterinary care is strongly recommended in treating amitraz toxicity.

    Diagnosis

    Diagnosis is usually based on physical exam findings and a history of recent access to an amitraz-based tick collar.

    Treatment

    Expect your veterinarian to recommend hospitalization with continuous intravenous fluids. In addition, the following may be recommended:

  • Activated charcoal given by a stomach tube in order to reduce the amount of amitraz ingested
  • Administration of yohimbine, a medication that reverses some of the sedative effects of amitraz.

    Most cats treated for amitraz toxicity recover in 24-48 hours.

    Home Care and Prevention

    Prompt consultation with your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency hospital is suggested if you realize an amitraz-based tick collar was placed on your cat.

    If your cat was treated for amitraz toxicity, home care upon release from the veterinary hospital includes a bland diet for a few days and gradual return to a normal diet. Watch for vomiting, not eating or persistent lethargy or weakness. If any of these occur, contact your family veterinarian as soon as possible.

    For cats, the primary prevention is to avoid use of amitraz-based tick collars. Also, make sure that cats in the household do not chew on or lick another dog's tick collar.

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