General Question

wildpotato's avatar

Is it ok to use Frontline for dogs on cats?

Asked by wildpotato (15030points) October 28th, 2013

My last vet said it was fine and told me to use .5mL for the dosage. I never ended up needing to then, but now I think I do. However, my current vet says this is not recommended (info came as a call-back, so I didn’t have the chance to ask follow-up questions).

I checked and the main active ingredient, fipronil, is in both at the same concentration. And the second active ingredient is slightly less concentrated in the dog solution than in the cat solution (8.8% vs 11.8%). So why would the dog solution not be ok for cats?

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22 Answers

marinelife's avatar

It may contain pyrethrins, which are deadly for cats.

gailcalled's avatar

I would listen to your current vet, if he is who I think he is. They are packaged and sold separately for dogs and cats; there must be a reason. You can always find out why later.

I find the small ticks (even though they do not embed or engorge) on MIlo’s fur all year long here due to the fields and brush so I use it every 30 days. And I always get the cat Frontline.

wildpotato's avatar

@marinelife Could you source that statement, please?

livelaughlove21's avatar

Absolutely not. Here’s why.

My mom accidentally used dog flea and tick medication on her cat. A couple of hour later, the cat was shaking and breathing improperly. They had to take her to the hospital, where she began to seize. She survived, but it was scary as hell.

$500 for a emergency vet hospital visit vs. $30 for medication the cat should take. The choice is yours.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

No. There’s a reason why they make the two different kinds.

Buttonstc's avatar

Frontline does not contain Pyrethrines (although some of the OTC products found in pet stores do) so as long as we are speaking strictly about Frontline, that’s not where the problem lies.

Have you seen the size of the dog dosage packets? i have. They’re huge compared to the cat sized ones.

Notice that the first vet said to use a dosage of ,5 ml. THIS IS CRITICAL HERE.

He just didn’t tell you precisely HOW you’re supposed to get that exact amount out of the larger dog-sized ampules, now did he??

Yeah, that’s what I figured. Technically speaking, he’s correct in the nearly identical concentrations of ingredients. And he’s got syringes and stuff in the office with which to accurately measure that ,5 ml. But do you?

If not, then I wouldn’t risk it. The old-fashioned “by guess and by golly” is really not going to cut it here. Cats have very sensitive central nervous systems and overdosing them with this can have serious consequences.

I’m assuming that’s why your current Vet is being a whole lot more cautious. He’s aware that the average pet owner doesn’t really have the equipment handy to accurately measure the proper dosage.

Plus, these things don’t come with screw caps. You basically cut off the top part and apply it to the pets neck. They are designed as single application units.

Obviously a medical person (or a diabetic) can get around that by using a syringe. But really, why bother ? Just wait an extra day or two and get the cat size; it’s so muvh safer and convenient.

wildpotato's avatar

@Buttonstc Thanks for your answer. Yes, I do have a syringe, and I’m pretty handy with the little bugger. I don’t mind using (and wasting much of the contents of) one of my dog packets. The cats are strictly indoor and so do not require continual flea and tick prevention; I will only be treating each cat once, in order to address the current problem. It just doesn’t seem cost effective to buy a cat three-pack for $60 when I could sacrifice a single $10 dog packet.

@WillWorkForChocolate. Well, sure. But the reason in this case seems to be marketing and profiteering, rather than medically based.

syz's avatar

It is the same drug at the same concentration, but dogs and cats get treated at a different dose, and it is doubtful that you have the means to accurately measure and dose your cat. As mentioned earlier, they are designed as single dose.

If you OD your cat, you’re looking at a minimum of several hundred dollars in veterinary bills. Just buy the appropriate packaging.

wildpotato's avatar

@syz Thanks for your input! I have a cat-sized oral syringe, a small empty liquid med bottle, and one of those round plastic discs that you fit over the top of the bottle and then stick the syringe into. My vet had me use these things to measure out .5mL of Orbax twice a day for like three weeks. My plan was to drain the Frontline into the bottle, put the round thingee on, stick the syringe in, flip it upside down and suck out the right amount. I don’t mean to second guess you, I just don’t understand why it would be a different or more difficult process than measuring out the Orbax.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well then, you are the exception to the typical pet owner and I see your reasoning.

However, there is such a thing as way way too cheap. Treating a cat once will kill 98% of the adult fleas within 24 hrs.

However. each female adult flea lays an astounding number of eggs each day. You really need to kill them at all life stages of their cycle. That’s what the second ingredient is designed to address. It’s an insect growth regulator and affects primarily the larvae and pupae (so they don’t grow into adult fleas to lay yet more eggs in an endless cycle.

Basically if you dose the cat three times at 30 day intervals the problem is done for good (on indoor only cats). Thre months and you’re totally flea free.

Frontline had a pretty good diagrammatic portrayal of this on their website and it worked perfectly for my cats.

Interestingly enough, I was also going over their coats each day with a fine tooth flea comb and masking tape to be certain there would be no stragglers.

As each month progressed further from time of application there was a gradual increase in the number of fleas I’d catch so that was obviously those hatching out.

I made certain to go no longer than 30 days between applications as it was obvious what would happen.

But I also noticed the second month that the new hatchlings were significantly smaller and weaker. And by the third month, there were some but not nearly as many as the first or second month. Plus they were far easier to catch since they were weaker, smaller and slower than their predecessors.

And soon there were none. Forever more.

At the beginning of all this I had also called the company and asked them why it was necessary to do three months for indoor only cats. And the patiently explained it to me and it made sense as being accurate and not justie marketing hype.

So, as long as you’re getting significant savings as is, do the full three months. You won’t be sorry. After all, what’s a few more ml ?

IMHO well worth it. Fleas are the devil. Hate those SOBS.

gailcalled's avatar

The Frontline looks like a clear gel and seems rather thick. After I apply the measured single application to the back of Milo’s neck (where he cannot lick it off) the fur looks like I have used hair gel on it…spikey and pointy. I wonder whether that would interfere with using a syringe.

Buttonstc's avatar

That’s interesting. They must have changed the formula. The stuff I had was liquid. No doubt about it as I even ended up with a bit of it on my fingers. GAAAAACK.

But even if its a gel now, the syringe to which she’s referring is a pediatric ORAL syringe so there’s a considerably larger opening than if it were a needle.

If I can suck up Fancy Feast pâté style cat food with it, a bit of gel shouldn’t be a problem. This is what I was using to coax Smoochie back to regular eating. It’s the best way to get anything into a cats mouth and they give them out free at most Pharmacies. If you ever need to give meds to Milo…


We’re you using Frontline Plus or just the regular? The plus is for ticks. My cats never went outdoors so I had no need for it. Maybe that accounts for the liquid vs. gel situation?

gailcalled's avatar

Plus, now that you mention it. Your cats never sneak between your legs and rush outside? Milo is in for the night, I think, and suddenly there is this black and white blur and he is outside again.

If you get any of that stuff on your hands, wash them in hot water and soap immediately. (Unless, of course, you have fleas).

livelaughlove21's avatar

@gailcalled My cat never tries to get outside. She’s perfectly content indoors. We only have to put flea medication on her once every few months, and only because of the dog being in and out. She’s actually allergic to fleas and will develop little scabs way before you can see fleas in her fur.

Buttonstc's avatar

Definitely not an option for my cats when I lived in the city and the furthest any got was into the hallway and up the stairs in the apt. building.

But that was the only one of mine who dedicated her energies into being an escape artist. After tiring of climbing three flights to corner her, I finally designed a foolproof method.

But none of my cats ever got outdoors unless a careless guest or roommate were involved.

Smitha's avatar

Many people use fipronil (Frontline) or selamectin (Revolution) as first choices but I think they should be avoided in cats because these flea treatments are all applied topically, they can leave a residue on your pet’s fur.The best solution would be to comb your pet with a fine-toothed flea comb, and have 2 tall plastic bowls prepared with water and a drop or two of Dawn (or Joy) dishwashing liquid in one, and plain water in the other. When you comb him, if you should remove any live fleas, dip the comb in the cup with the water/Dawn, and this will kill them instantly; then dip the comb into the clean water and wipe with paper towel; repeat your combing.This really works!

gailcalled's avatar

@Buttonstc:I finally designed a foolproof method. Are you going to tell me what it was or leave me hanging?

Buttonstc's avatar

Since she weighed only five pounds or less, as I was leaving, I would pick her up and when I was on the outer side of the door I would open it a crack and give her a quick toss (lightly) inside and quickly close the door before she could run back.

She was a very quick little thing and could squirm between my legs with surprisingly little space. I just got tired of pursuing her upstairs each time.

But she was the type of cat who would eagerly run into a closet the moment I opened the door and same for bathroom. She regarded the opening of any door as an immediate invitation to come running through it :)

From her frame and her ears, I’m assuming a fairly large percentage of Abyssinian in her DNA. She sure acted like it :)

gailcalled's avatar

Ah. Five pounds. Tossing Milo would be like heaving a medicine ball, assuming that I could even get my hands on him. Luckily, thirty seconds after he rushes out, this is what I see.

wildpotato's avatar

@gailcalled I finally spoke with Dr. Vet yesterday; he is totally on board. Whew!

Blaze often makes a dash out the door, but only as far as the first blades of grass to munch on. Occasionally he’ll make it to the driveway, but all he does then is flop over and roll around on his back ecstatically.

gailcalled's avatar

^^. I am really happy that you like Dr. Vet; I will pass that info on to my friend who recommended him in the first place.

Blaze is ecstatic because he is living in the Berkshires. Milo no longer wanders much farther than another entrance. I have four and he alternates…wherever I am not is the perfect place to stare at the door and hope it opens by magic.

I have not been down the basement for 5 weeks and went today. There I found some traces (dried, mercifully) of what happens after Milo eats grass. I have no idea of how long they ave been here.

Are you going to be around long enough to plant catmint (nepeta nepeta) in the spring, speaking of cats and ecstasy.

SEKA's avatar

I know I’m late but someone else might be interested. My vet said to never use Frontline on my cats; however, he did say that the only dog treatment that could be used on cats is Advantage. He said all the others weren’t stable enough to risk it. I used Advantage for years on both my dogs & cats. I’d buy the Advantage for my size dog, put “1” drop on the cat and the rest of the tube on my dog. Both cats lived to the ripe old age of 15 without any problems

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