Imidacloprid - Topical

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is imidacloprid?

Imidacloprid (brand names: Advantage®, Defense Care®) is a topical medication used to treat fleas. It is also used in combination with other medications to treat other parasites such as ticks, mosquitoes, chewing lice, heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, scabies, cheyletiellosis, demodex, or ear mites. (brand names include: K9 Advantix®, Advantage II®, Advantage Multi®, Seresto®, Advocate®).

At labeled doses, its use in cats, dogs, and ferrets is FDA-approved. However, to treat certain parasitic infections, it is considered ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is imidacloprid given?

Imidacloprid and the combination products are applied topically, directly on the skin. Do not bathe with shampoo, as this may strip the product from the skin and may require reapplication before the end of the treatment interval; do not reapply more than once per week in these situations. Do not get the medication in the eye, and if this occurs flush the eyes with an eye rinse or water.

It is not required, but it is recommended to wear gloves while applying this medication as skin contact should be avoided. Wash hands with soap and water after handling this medication. Dispose of this medication carefully and in the trash only as this product is extremely toxic to fish.

What if I forget to give my pet the medication, or my shipment is late?

Give the missed dose as soon as you remember, and then wait the recommended amount of time between doses. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects are uncommon if used as directed. If your pet licks the medication, excessive drooling may occur due to the bitterness of the medication. If your cat licks the combination product, Advantage Multi®, drooling, shaking, vomiting, and decreased appetite may occur. Rarely with the combination product Advantage Multi®, dogs may have itchiness, sleepiness, decreased appetite, or hyperactivity. Skin irritation can occasionally occur at the application site.

This long-acting medication may last up to 4 – 6 weeks, and may last longer in pets with kidney or liver disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Certain combination products including this medication should not be used in puppies less 7 weeks old or weighing less than 3 pounds, or in kittens less than 8 weeks old. Certain combination products containing this medication should not be used on cats (e.g., K9 Advantix®). Imidacloprid should be used cautiously in debilitated, geriatric, pregnant, or lactating animals.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

There are no drug interactions reported at this time. Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.

How do I store imidacloprid?

Store at room temperature and avoid temperature extremes. As there are many different products containing imidacloprid, follow the directions on the label for storage recommendations.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

Related Articles