What to Do if Flea Medicine Goes on a Cat's Hair & Not Skin

Consider applying Toby’s flea medication a two-person job until you're adept at it. Otherwise you're at risk of his squirming getting the medicine all over his coat instead of on the skin between the shoulder blades. Flea medication can be toxic, so you’ll need to wipe away any that winds up in his hair.

Proper Application

Have your significant other hold Toby in his lap, petting your furry buddy until he relaxes. While Toby is getting a massage, grab a rag, then go ahead and break the seal of the tube of flea medication. You’ll squeeze the tube onto the skin on the back of Toby’s neck – an area he can’t reach to lick off the medication. Part his fur until you see his skin, which can be tricky if he has long tresses. Place the open tip directly on Toby’s skin and squeeze out the entire package. Ideally all of the product will wind up right on your cuddly companion’s skin, although that isn’t always the case -- it's bound to soak into the immediate hairs. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully; if you’re uncomfortable administering topical flea medication, ask your veterinarian to do it for you or show you how.

Medication on Fur

If some of the flea medication winds up on Toby’s fur, it is a big concern only if he can lick the spot. For example, if some of the contents of the tube drip on his leg, you’ll want to quickly wipe it away with the rag. But if the flea medication gets onto Toby’s hair on the back of his neck, he probably won’t be able to get to it. Just to be safe, take the rag and rub in any flea gel glistening on his fur. That way the formula can get closer to his skin to protect him from any crawling critters.

Allowing It to Dry

After you’ve carefully applied the flea gel and removed any that might have dripped on his fur, keep Toby occupied so the medication can go to work. Let the formula dry for a full 30 minutes before allowing your mischievous chum to groom himself or before letting him come into contact with other animals in your home.


If you leave wet flea product on Toby’s coat and she ingests it, or if another fur-covered family member pounces over and licks it off, severe complications can potentially result. Each type of formulation has its own warnings but, in general, ingesting even a small dab of flea medicine could lead to severe vomiting and drooling. In some cases, swallowing flea products can cause your feline to have tremors and no desire to eat. If you notice Toby isn’t acting like himself after you've applied the product, take your fur ball to the emergency clinic right away as a precautionary measure.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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