If you’re a dog or cat owner, you’ve probably heard of the brand PetArmor Plus. The company churns out flea repellent, de-wormers, ear care, dental products, vitamins and other healthcare supplements for pets. Chances are, if you use these types of products for your pets, you treat your animals without thinking twice about the medication’s quality or effectiveness.

But one cat owner in Ventura, California, says two of her cats almost died after she treated them with PetArmor Plus’s flea repellent. After Erin Debora applied the treatment to her pets, they became extremely lethargic. They almost entirely lost their ability to walk and they started suffering from seizures.

Debora raced her pets to the vet, where they were kept in ICU for four days while they healed. Their vet said they were lucky to have survived, because what was in their flea repellent medication very well could have been lethal. That’s because PetArmor Plus had labeled the medication incorrectly: Debora thought she was buying flea repellent for cats, but found what she had bought was flea repellent for dogs, placed in the wrong packaging.

She described the experience as “mind-blowing,” since the company was such a trusted one to her and to so many other pet parents. And, perhaps even more disappointing, she has yet to receive any help from the company who distributes PetArmor products.

Debora hoped sharing her story would help others who might use similar products for their pets. Even without a recall or notification sent to pet owners, those who read her story might double-check the products they have on-hand before it’s too late.

Not the First Time Pet Products Have Come Under Fire

Although PetArmor Plus is the most recent pet product manufacturer to come under fire, it’s not the first company responsible for causing health problems in customers’ pets.

The FDA approved Bravecto in 2014, but thousands of pet owners have claimed that the flea and tick medication killed their pets. In fact, there’s an entire Facebook page dedicated to tracking all of the claims against the company. One owner, David Junker, said that his dog ate the medication without problem or hesitation, but his dog was dead the next morning.

Veterinarians have chimed in, saying they believe the medication is unsafe after dealing with experiences like Junker’s. Others — including the company behind Bravecto — have said it’s completely safe.

Toys and Treats Can Be Dangerous, Too

Rawhide chews, a favorite treat for dogs worldwide, have also faced the fire. Products expiring between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020 have been recalled. This occurred after it was discovered that plants in Mexico, Brazil and Columbia used chemicals to clean their food-processing equipment — chemicals not approved in the U.S. for manufacturing these chews.

The recall includes many brands that pet lovers trust: Petco, Exer-Hides, Essential Everyday, Dentahex, Priority Pet, Enzadent, Digest-eeze, Healthy Hide, American Beefhide and Hill Country Fare all have products manufactured in these plants. And, just in case recalled chews have fallen through the cracks, experts warn that those that are still out there may cause stomach irritation including diarrhea, loss of appetite and vomiting.

And Beware of Deceptive Advertising

Even misleading claims made by these types of products have been challenged in courts. Adams Flea & Tick Spot On for Dogs once made claims that its product began to eradicate fleas and ticks within 15 minutes of application, which was challenged and later found to be untrue.

The National Advertising Division, an arm of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, asserted that ads for the product had to be changed after it was found that the product didn’t actually reach its full efficacy until a week after its application. They had to take back claims that their products worked eight times faster than a competitor, too, after it was found that their medication did not treat fleas and ticks in 15 minutes.

What’s a Pet Owner To Do?

Because pet care companies like PetArmor aren’t making their products’ reported side effects well-known, it’s up to you to find out what products might be dangerous for your dog or cat. The first line of defense is a chat with your veterinarian. He or she is probably well aware of any contentious brands on the market and will help you steer clear of anything that could hurt your pet or cost you thousands in medical bills.

On your own time, be sure to read labels and stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the pet care industry. Follow the social media pages of your trusted pet care products to see if any commenters report side effects there — if so, make sure your pets don’t show the same symptoms, too.

Most of all, your best bet is to pay attention to any changes your pet may experience post-medication, no matter how subtle those changes may be. Knowing your dog or cat well will help you realize when something’s amiss. You can call your vet and stop a problem in its tracks before it becomes something much worse. But, hopefully, with time and testing, these types of stories will become few and far between and pets will be able to take medication without their parents having to worry about unwanted side effects.

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