By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is lufenuron?

Lufenuron (brand name: Program®) is an insect growth regulator that controls flea infestations in dogs, cats, rabbits, and ferrets. It is frequently found in combination with other medications such as milbemycin and/or praziquantel (brand names: Sentinel®, Spectrum®).

How does it work? How quickly will it kill fleas?

Lufenuron works as a growth inhibitor. Therefore, the adult flea must feed on a treated animal to ingest the drug, and any eggs produced by this adult will not survive. It does NOT kill adult fleas nor does it repel fleas. Because the effects are targeting offspring, the overall flea control effects can take several months. Therefore, this medication works better in combination with other products for long-term control as opposed to a sole therapy.

How is lufenuron given?

Lufenuron is given by mouth in the form of a tablet or liquid. It can also be given as an injection in the hospital or clinic setting to cats only. Give oral forms with food, either by mixing it into the food or giving it directly after a meal. If mixed into food and the entire dose is not consumed, redose with the full, recommended dose as soon as possible. All cats and dogs must be treated concurrently with a flea control product in order to control flea populations in the household. Treatment should begin several weeks prior to flea season and end several weeks after flea season. If fleas are active year-round, then treatment should continue without stopping.

This medication can take up to a few weeks before full effects are noted, however, effects may not be noted outwardly.

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

Give the dose as soon as you remember and resume your regular monthly dosing schedule. For example, if you forgot to give your pet his or her dose on June 1st and remember on June 18th, give the dose on June 18th and resume your dosing schedule starting on July 1st. Contact your veterinarian if you are concerned about a missed dose.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects are uncommon but may include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, tiredness, reddening of the skin, or itchiness. The injectable form may cause a small lump at the injection site that should resolve in a few weeks. Serious side effects are very rare, but may include hives, severe skin rashes, or difficulty breathing.

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?

Lufenuron should not be used in pets that are allergic to it and it should be used with caution in pets less than 6 weeks of age. This medication is considered safe in pregnant, breeding, and lactating pets.

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 lufenuron?

Store at room temperature between 59°F and 77°F (15°C and 25°C). Exposure to temperatures outside of this range for less than 48 hours should not affect the medication.

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.

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