Advantix Makes Dogs “Ticklish”?

I’d like to interrupt the ongoing discussion of how we’re in the early chapters of The Stand for a quick question about what really matters: the cute behaviors of my dog.

There’s probably a technical term for that thing dogs do where their back legs twitch when you scratch them in just the right spot. I’m not sure what it would be, though– Kate and I tend to use “reflex arc” as a shorthand, but when I was a kid it was described to me as the equivalent of tickling a dog, so I tend to think of it that way.

Anyway, we give Emmy Advantix as a flea and tick preventative, which works really well. We’ve noticed something odd, though: after we apply the Advantix every month (it goes on the skin along her back– we usually bribe her to hold still for the procedure with the chewy beef-flavored heartworm preventative, which she loves), she’s much more sensitive to the “tickling” effect. To the point that if I scratch her back in the right spot, she’ll do the leg twitch thing even when she’s standing up.

So, what’s the deal, here? Why does the Advantix make her so much more “ticklish”? It doesn’t seem to distress her at all (God knows, it would freak me out), and the effect usually goes away after a week or so. It’s very definitely correlated with the Advantix, too.


  1. #1 phisrow
    April 27, 2009

    I am not a toxicologist or anything; but both imidacloprid and permethrin are said to have some effect on the nervous system in mammals.

  2. #2 Adam
    April 27, 2009

    I was mildly disappointed to find that there was no supporting data after the break (thinking back to the baby feeding time graphs).

  3. #3 rfall
    April 27, 2009

    I’d guess it has something to do with the evaporative cooling effect immediately afterwards.

    However, since I’ve never noticed it in my dogs, I will have to do a confirmatory test later this week.

    And, how do you know the heartworm medication is beef-flavored? I always tell my dogs they’re getting a chocolate treat….

  4. #4 milkshake
    April 29, 2009

    Like the commenter before noted, permethrin is a pyrethroid and pyrethroids are known to have (some) neurologic side-effects. (Permethrin was among suspected causes of the Gulf War Syndrome)

    Wiki says that permethrin can cause a strange local sensation on skin and cattle that grazed on grass sprayed with permethrin suffers from muscle twitches. Cats are supposed to be very sensitive to it – they get hurt if a dog anti-flea product is given to them.

    I am not expert but I would recommend using some alternative product for awhile, to see if the problem goes away. For example Frontline does not contain permethrin or any other pyrethroids

  5. #5 evan ryan
    April 29, 2009

    Do not use this product. My dog is pacing all around and very jittery. Scarey! Seems nerve related when we apply.

  6. #6 Jenny
    May 8, 2009

    My lab does this back twitch thing when we applied the Advantix!!!! Never again, it is unfair!
    Last season I noticed it, but was not as soon as spring came and I gave it to him…all the twitching came back!! I wish there was a way to make it fade away quicker??
    Bad Product!

  7. #7 Patrick Hollamby
    May 20, 2009

    It is interesting, I have come on to Google to research Advantix after using it a few days ago (for the first time) on our two Shelties. Since then they have been constantly scratching, as if flea bitten! Precisely what you do not want.We have also noted certain nervous behaviour in the male Sheltie which seems to have been heightened in recent days. I will be contacting our Vet and returning the two unused sachets and advising him of the unwanted problems we have. I will not risk using this product again.

  8. #8 Lloyd Bemis
    May 28, 2009

    We used Advantix on our Bouvier and we are very concerned about his condition. It has almost been a week since the treatment and he remains very lethargic and seems disoriented. Apparently Advantix contains Imidacloprid which I understand to be a neurotoxin. We have washed him off and have contacted the vet, but I have not discovered any treatment options for these neurologic effects. We can only hope that his condition improves over time, but I am very upset the more I read about this product and the adverse effects that many have experienced which seem to be ignored by Advantix’s manufacturer. Do not use this product.

  9. #9 Chris Wilkinson
    June 2, 2009

    I am a first time user of Advantix because I bought a home in a highly wooded area. I thought this would help with the tick problem. NOT. I am picking ticks off my dog daily. I will be returning this product.

  10. #10 Sharon Worden
    July 9, 2009

    I have a two year old Golden Ret. and after using Advantix she is very lethargic I hope this goes away soon. I will never use this product again.

  11. #11 Kim
    September 6, 2009

    PLEASE tell everyone you know that they should NEVER use Advantix. I had been using Frontline with no side effects, but changed over to Advantix because I heard that fleas can become immune to certain treatments. Oh my Gosh. I am praying that my poor peekapoo recovers from the horrible tremors, twitching and skin sensitivity it has caused. I also put it on our other dog before I realized what was happening and he acted like he was in a manic state combined with being on crack until I washed it off of him with Dawn and other pet shampoos. However, my other dog is still suffering the side effects 4 days later. It is sad that the vet must be in the back pockets of Bayer, because he tried to tell us that it does not get into their blood stream and will not harm him neurologically. But aren’t the ingredients in Advantix called neurotoxins? Duhhh. I wish I had done more research before using this on our beloved pets.

  12. #12 Loren
    September 22, 2010

    Don’t use this stuff it has caused our GSD to have a very sensitive back, if you touch her back her skin moves from side to side. Then if you rub or scratch her back her back her legs start scratch on her sides. She is always rolling on her back and scratching with her back legs. She never seems to have relief. I would like to dump this stuff on the people that approved it to be used on our pets. I hope the problem will correct it self in time. Does anyone know of a way to give her any relief?

  13. #13 Yvonne
    September 25, 2010

    Does anyone know–I had to bathe my dog in a special shampoo for ringworm because we adopted two kittens from the animal shelter and they had ringworm (we didn’t know it when we got them). So to prevent the dog from getting ringworm, we bathed him in the same shampoo called Mal-A-Ket. The active ingredients are acetic acid, ketaconazole and chlorhexidine gluconate. He is going crazy, rubbing himself against the furniture, crying, and his “tickle” reflex has gone crazy. Just barely scratching him will make his leg go nuts. I feel terrible for him, I don’t know how to bring him any relief. Any help would be appreciated.

  14. #14 Ann Kelman
    April 21, 2011

    Five minutes after treating my dog with ‘Advantix Spot On’ he became very agitated and began rolling on the floor. When I read the instructions I saw that ‘rare’ side effects were those my dog was experiencing. Why did my vet not inform me of this and by reading comments on the net I know my dog has not been the only animal who has suffered after being treated with this product. I will certainly be voicing my opinion to him tomorrow! 24 hours later and my dog is still distressed, hiding in corners of the house and garden. I only hope that the effects wear off soon as watching him like this is very upsetting. I have e mailed Buyer so it will be interesting to see how they respond. Meanwhile I will make certain that I let all of the dog owners and walkers I am in contact know the dangers.

  15. #15 Jill Moran
    April 14, 2012

    Oh my gosh…I KNEW It!!!I applied Advantix to my German Shorthair Pointer and she has had hyper sensitive skin ever since. I touch her back and it’s like her skin “crawls”…lots of weird movement. She also has leg twitching, esp. her rear legs. Holy shit! Why is this product being sold?!! That makes me so angry and it’s so expensive too. I will be contacting my vet and Bayer. I would never use this product again.

  16. #16 Jill Moran
    April 15, 2012

    This is a follow up comment to the one I posted yesterday. I apllied K9 Advantix 2 nine days ago on my G S Pointer. After reading several blogs about this poison I was nearly sick to my stomach. Her legs have been twitching (she never gets proper sleep) and sometimes I wake up and shes shaking all over (like she’s shivering)…GSP’s never get cold. So I took the suggestion and scrubbed her spinal area (where I applied that poison) with Dawn. Then I gave her an all over bath and again applied the Dawn to the back area. This morning she has no leg twitches and her skin isn’t crawling when I touch her back. It’s nine days post application and washing that crap off does work. Don’t wait to let your dog ride out these horrible neuro symptoms.

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