All About Nitenpyram

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Nitenpyram - what is it? When your pet gets fleas, you need a quick solution, and the most recommended fix for an infestation tends to be Nitenpyram. Of course, most pet owners are generally wary of just giving their dog some unknown chemical substance. Today, I’m going to talk ALL about Nitenpyram - that’s right, everything, from the chemical structure, to why it works, to basic application. Feel free to skip to the section you’d like, as I’m going to talk about the science behind it, as well as why it works so effectively.

The Chemical
Although it might sound harsh, at its core Nitenpyram is an insecticide. However, it is much more environmentally friendly than other insecticides. Its chemical formula, as you can see from the picture above, is (E)-N-(6-Chloro-3-pyridylmethyl)- N-ethyl-N'-methyl-2-nitrovinylidenediamine. (1) Talk about a mouthful!

Chemical structure of Nitenpyram

This chemical structure means that Nitenpyram is a neonicotinoid, so it has a similar chemical structure similar to nicotine. I know a lot of people might get worried by this, but don’t be upset - it lacks the addictive properties. On the plus side, because of its structure, it lacks the same toxicity as other more powerful insecticides and as a result is able to be used on mammals and birds. There are some complex chemical reactions going on in the backend, so I’ll give the simple reason. The neonicotinoids react poorly to the chemical receptors in mammals, but very well to those in insects such as fleas and blowflies. So while it’s less toxic for mammals (i.e. cats and dogs), it is more dangerous for insects - you know, those fleas that you want off your pet! So it’s a win-win there.  

How It Works
Nitenpyram is a neurotoxin. According to Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers, neurotoxins are toxins that are poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue (Causing neurotoxicity). Generally, what happens in insects after Nitenpyram has been applied is it blocks nerve signals and accumulates in the central nervous system of insects, causing them to become paralyzed, suffocate, and die. Talk about intense!

However, one consideration for Nitenpyram is that it only affects adult insects - in your particular case, fleas and potentially blowflies (3). The eggs of the insects won’t be harmed as they won’t absorb the chemical. This isn’t a huge deal, as you can just apply the dose again the next day once the new fleas have hatched. Over a couple days, the flea infestation will be completely wiped out. Something to consider is that the neurotoxin affects all insects, not just the ones you want to get rid of. Keep Nitenpyram inside at all times - it could affect helpful insects such as bees.

Nitenpyram as a base component appears to be a slightly yellow to white crystalline powder. (2) It may have a very slight odor to it, but nothing harsh. Of course, you’ll probably get it in a pill form. Although it’s fairly safe to handle, you probably don’t want it all over your clothes and hands. Please exercise caution.

Since Nitenpyram is an insecticide, you will need to be careful in how you apply it. As mentioned above, Nitenpyram will most often come in a pill form. The pill should be applied orally to your cat or dog. Some pet owners ( including myself) will sprinkle the Nitenpyram over food, especially if your pet is very picky. I try to give my dogs some peanut butter with it to get them to consume it quickly.

In terms of dosing, a pill that contains 12mg of Nitenpyram will be effective on a cat or dog that weighs anywhere from 2 to 25 pounds. There is also a larger pill that contains 57mg of Nitenpyram that will be better for cats or dogs that weigh more than 25 to 125 pounds. Note that you should not apply Nitenpyram to pets that are under 2 pounds, pets that are sick or frail, or pets that are under 4 weeks old. You should also be cautious about giving it to pregnant or nursing females.

Warning - keep in mind, that while Nitenpyram is generally considered safe to use, it is still a toxin. Don’t give your pet more than its weight, even if it has a lot of fleas. The chemical is extremely powerful and there is no cure if you have given your pet too much and it gets poisoning. So again, I’ll reiterate - only give your pet the amount according to its weight, not according to how many fleas it has. Also, keep it out of the reach of children.

Once you’ve given your pet the Nitenpyram, it will work extremely fast. In about half an hour (30 minutes), the neurotoxin will take effect and fleas will start dying. The chemical will continue to affect and kill any other adult fleas for the following 24-48 hours. Your pet might start to pant or scratch - don’t worry, that’s just the Nitenpyram going to work! It will be scratching a lot, especially if it had a lot of fleas biting it and it’s trying to remove them from its fur.

Since Nitenpyram only works for 24-48 hours, you may need to apply it again. If there aren’t many fleas, one application will be enough. If the infestation is much larger, you will need to try at least 2 or 3 applications. The key is to break the flea life cycle - if enough adults are killed, they won’t be able to lay eggs and your pet will be free from them.

There’s a lot to be concerned about these days with different insecticides, but Nitenpyram flea killers have proven to be safe time and time again when given in proper dosage. I talked about how Nitenpyram is a neurotoxin designed to kill insects while being less toxic to cats and dogs. I also talked about how to best apply it, and how often to apply it. I also talked about how to exercise caution when using it. I hope that you found this information useful to you!

(1) Jiang, H., Yu, C.-X., Tu, S.-J., Wang, X.-S. & Yao, C.-S. (2007). Acta Cryst. E63, o298–o299

(2) Sheldrick, G. M. (2008). Acta Cryst. A64, 112–122.

Fact Sheets - Small Animal Dermatology | UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine 


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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