Vets warn about dangers of common flea treatments after this post went viral

Can you imagine how this woman felt? She bought a common flea treatment from Big W to treat her cat

Can you imagine how this woman felt? She bought a common flea treatment from Big W to treat her cat only to find out the hard way that the product was actually quite dangerous for her feline friend.

In desperation, she took to Facebook with her story:

Hi Big W, I tried to contact you yesterday in relation to a safety concern requiring urgent attention (using the phone number on your website) however I kept getting put through to Woolworths who eventually transferred me to an automated phone line. My safety concern is that I purchased Exelpet FLEABAN from Big W for use on my cat—you can see that the label clearly states ‘for cats and dogs’. After following the instructions on the bottle and administering FLEABAN to my cat, she began foaming at the mouth and convulsing. I took her to the animal hospital where they informed me that a key ingredient in FLEABAN (pyrethrins) is highly toxic to cats. The vet suggested that I contact you via Facebook to ask that you remove this product from your stock. I can’t save my cat the 12 hour stay in hospital under observation for neurological damage, and I can’t save myself the $700 vet bill, but hopefully I can ask you to take this product off your shelves and maybe save some others in the future.

Big W replied immediately, asking the woman for her details, but the post instantly gained a lot of attention – and has drawn out similar stories that allegedly involve the same product.


Lucas Flin, wrote, “Our dog got semi paralyzed and nearly died two hours after using this product. After advice from the vet looking after her and help from Google we discovered that it is a lethal side effect of the chemical pyretherins as mentioned above. It is harmful to all animals but seemingly lethal to small dogs and cats. Why is it being sold if this is common knowledge?? I think we (and anyone else affected by this) need to look into this further!”

Several other commenters told similar stories, while others pointed out that the issue lay with the producers of the product, not the store itself, and that the product is on sale in supermarkets too.

It’s not known whether the instances were due to the pets having a reaction to the product, or an issue with the ingredients themselves.

Several vets added their voice, telling people to be selective about where they buy their pet’s products from.

Harry Sue Dislers-Grieve, said, “Vet nurse……please please people stop buying any kind of medication from stores…..please buy from vets…..yes you will pay a bit more but you will get the correct medication ..sprays washers etc etc.”

Shayla Diamond adds, “I’m a vet surgeon and the best advice I can give you is buy your wormers and flea treatments from a veterinary clinic. In saying that remember that Big W and all the other stores are just stocking the companies product and the sales assistants know nothing about the product, they probably don’t even know what it’s used for and that’s really wrong.”

Do you have a pet? Do you buy flea treatments and other products from stores or from vet practices? 


  1. I buy my flea treatment for cats from OBAY which my vet recommended as I get a discount. I have one cat that is very sensitive to flea bites and needs to be treated every month. It is better to have a recommended product from the vet and know you are doing the right thing for your fur baby.

  2. We used a squeeze on worm treatment from the supermarket and our cat reacted like we had just put boiling water on her neck, was running around and frightened. Vet only for us now.

  3. I buy my bird spray for mites, I don’t think he has ever had any and he hates being sprayed but it is better to be safe than sorry, I also buy him vitamins and worming medicine, just in case but I buy it from the pet store

    • I would only use those products if you have evidence of mites,feather loss,scratching etc.Why treat if it’s not needed.Do you worm yourself and use lice treatment on the children when you have no evidence of any disease?

  4. I buy my flea treatment ( for my dog !) from the vet, Advantage, once a month on the back of her neck, noticed it in the local pet store this week when buying dog food, Same price but I will stick to the vet, they know my dog.

    • You can buy that so much cheaper from Stock Feeders (places that sell horse food/hay etc).

      • Quite possibly, but do u know you cannot mix certain flea products with medications. … will the feed shed know which ones?
        Thats why it is always safer to get the correct product with the correct advice. Vets are best for all info needed.

  5. So lucky we don’t have fleas. In the past living in northern NSW it was a constant problem.

  6. I only buy from the vet, how can they sell these products if they are known to cause these side affects? No sense there

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