It was a frightening 48 hours for a Vernon woman after she used an over the counter medication to treat her pets, only to find them writhing in pain hours after applying the topical drops.
Samantha Taylor noticed some fleas on one of her two dogs last weekend and bought a product she has used on her animals in the past, Hartz UltraGuard Plus for dogs and puppies and Hartz UltraGuard Pro for cats.
“I came home and put it on both dogs and the cat,” says Taylor.
“Everybody seemed fine and then Monday morning the cat came in to eat her breakfast, but all of a sudden she took off screaming.”
When Samantha came home later that evening, she says both of her dogs were in distress and rolling on the ground in an obvious panic, trying to rub something off.
“One dog has very thick fur, so you can’t see through his, but the other one, you can see through hers and her flesh was quite red,” explains Taylor, who says the drops had enflamed the skin of her animals.
She quickly bathed the dogs, and correctly inferred the same problem was inflicting her cat.
“She wouldn’t let me pick her up. She started screaming and running around the yard like she was on fire.”
Samantha was finally able to give her cat a sponge bath, but says the animal would not stop convulsing and twitching. That’s when she decided to contact the company directly.
“I talked to Hartz and they’ve basically said because I treated the two dogs and a cat at the same time… and because the cat and dogs groom each other, the cat ingested it. And I wasn’t supposed to put the drops on the cat at the same time as the dogs,“ she says.
“They basically said I was doing the right thing, but I didn’t get a lot of help. They seemed to be more accusing me, that I had made the error by putting it on all three of them at the same time.”
Local veterinarian Dr. Moshe Oz, of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital in West Kelowna, occasionally sees these types of situations at his practice.
“We do once in a while we get complaints from over the counter topical and oral medications,” he says.
“People try to save some money and go to the store – (sometimes) it doesn’t help or there is some kind of issue.”
Oz typically doesn’t ask the animal’s owner which product they used, saying it is irrelevant.
“Every time I hear “over the counter,” I know that it’s either not good, not enough, or too much,” Oz says, explaining that most veterinarian medicines are not stringently regulated.
“When you buy over the counter, you’re taking a risk. It can be cheaper, but sometimes it can end up being more expensive.”
You can find more information and similar stories involving Hartz pet products here.