Amitraz Toxicity in Dogs

Amitraz Toxicity in Dogs

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Overview of Canine Amitraz (Tick Collar) Toxicity

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. Toxicity from wearing the tick collar or receiving demodectic mange treatment is highly unlikely and most toxicity associated with this insecticide is due to ingestion by the pet. The dogs most commonly affected by amitraz toxicity are curious puppies.

Within about 2 to 6 hours of ingestion of the tick collar, the pet becomes weak and lethargic. Without treatment, coma may result. In severe untreated cases, toxicity may result in death.

What to Watch For

Signs of amitraz toxicity in dogs may include: 

  • Vomiting
  • Staggering
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation.

    Veterinary care is strongly recommended in treating amitraz toxicity.

  • Diagnosis of Amitraz Toxicity in Dogs

    Diagnosis is usually based on physical exam findings and a history of recent access to an amitraz-based tick collar. Frequently, the owner does not realize the dog ingested the collar until pieces of the collar are found in the vomit.

  • Your veterinarian may recommend taking an X-ray of your dog’s abdomen to look for pieces of the collar within the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Tissue samples can be analyzed for amitraz, but this generally takes days to get results, and treatment must be started before the tissues can be analyzed.

    Treatment of Amitraz Toxicity in Dogs

    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 dogs treated for amitraz toxicity recover in 24-48 hours.

  • Home Care and Prevention

    If you witness ingestion of the collar by your dog, prompt consultation with your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency hospital is suggested. Based on the time of ingestion, overall health of your dog and other factors, you may be instructed to induce vomiting. This should never be done unless specifically instructed by a veterinarian. Inappropriate vomiting can also be dangerous.

    If your dog has been 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, please contact your family veterinarian as soon as possible.

    Follow the directions on the tick collar package. Make sure to fit the tick collar properly so that it is not too tight and also not too loose. Your dog can easily remove a loose collar and ingest it. Trim the excess tick collar after fitting it properly. Also, make sure that other dogs in the household do not chew or lick another dog’s tick collar.

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