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Tick Medicine Poisoning in Dogs

Amitraz Toxicosis in Dogs

Amitraz toxicosis in dogs occurs when they are exposed to excessive amounts of the pharmaceutical drug Amitraz, a formamidine acaricide commonly found in dog collars and topical solutions. These products are used to prevent and eliminate ticks as well as to control demodex mite infections in dogs. Toxic levels of Amitraz affect the dog’s nervous, endocrine/metabolic, and gastrointestinal systems. Typically, topical solutions contain 19.9 percent Amitraz in 10.6 ml bottles, while impregnated collars contain 9 percent Amitraz in a 25-inch, 27.5 gram collar.


Symptoms of Amitraz toxicosis manifest rapidly following overexposure, typically within two to six hours. Common indications include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, staggering, disorientation, hypothermia, abdominal pain, and varying degrees of depression. In severe instances where prompt treatment is lacking, Amitraz toxicosis can lead to coma or death.


Amitraz toxicosis can stem from various sources. The primary cause is often when a dog chews or consumes its own tick collar. Additionally, inadequate dilution of an Amitraz-containing solution applied topically on the dog’s skin, or direct ingestion of the undiluted solution, can lead to toxicosis. When applied correctly and appropriately diluted, Amitraz toxicosis is uncommon. Dogs that are elderly, sick, diabetic, debilitated, or of toy breeds are particularly susceptible to this condition. Puppies, driven by curiosity, are among the most commonly affected victims.


Diagnosing Amitraz toxicosis involves considering recent exposure to an Amitraz-containing solution or tick collar, alongside observing symptoms of overdose in your dog during a physical examination by your veterinarian. An abdominal X-ray typically indicates the presence of a collar buckle in the gastrointestinal tract. Examination results might detect traces of Amitraz on the hair or in gastrointestinal contents, while biochemical and urine analyses often reveal hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Additionally, elevated liver enzyme levels may indicate Amitraz toxicosis, albeit infrequently.


Treating Amitraz toxicosis varies based on severity. For mild cases resulting from topical application, gentle sedation post-application or scrubbing with dishwashing detergent and ample water may suffice. Severe cases may necessitate one to two days of hospitalization and supportive therapy, including intravenous fluids, nutritional support, and maintaining body temperature.

If ingestion of a collar caused the condition, larger pieces must be removed from the stomach via endoscopic retrieval. If symptoms haven’t appeared yet after collar ingestion, oral administration of 3 percent emetic and USP hydrogen peroxide (2.2 ml per kilogram of body weight, maximum 45 ml) after a moist meal is recommended. Activated charcoal (2 g per kilogram of body weight) with sorbitol may be administered every four hours until collar pieces appear in the stool.

For dogs showing marked depression, various medications are available until improvement is observed. Recovery may take longer for elderly, sick, or debilitated dogs.

Living and Management

Following successful treatment, the dog requires close monitoring for 24 to 72 hours. Continual monitoring of body temperature, blood pressure, serum glucose, and heart rate is essential. In severe cases, medications may need to be readministered. Fortunately, there are typically no long-term adverse effects after successful treatment of the condition.


To prevent Amitraz toxicosis, it’s crucial to adhere precisely to the instructions provided with topical solutions and tick collars, and ensure that dogs within the household do not lick each other’s collars. Additionally, owners should store Amitraz-containing solutions and unused tick collars in a location inaccessible to their dogs.

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