Use and abuse of pyrethrins and synthetic pyrethroids in veterinary medicine

Vet J. 2009 Oct;182(1):7-20. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2008.04.008. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


Pyrethrin and pyrethroid insecticides are widely used in veterinary medicine for agricultural and domestic purposes. Although pyrethrins and pyrethroids are generally regarded as safe to animals, there have been reports of systemic poisoning in veterinary species. This review summarises the use of pyrethrins and pyrethroids in companion and food producing animals, including their mechanism of action and toxicity. The toxicokinetics of pyrethrins and pyrethroids are described, including absorption, distribution, metabolism (including interactions with other compounds affecting drug metabolising enzymes) and excretion, leading to the application of toxicokinetic/toxicodynamic concepts. Specific cases of pyrethroid poisoning in laboratory animals (including age-related toxicity), fish, companion and large animals are considered, including the high incidence of feline pyrethroids toxicosis following the extra-label use of topical formulations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic*
  • Animals, Wild*
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Insecticides / pharmacokinetics
  • Insecticides / poisoning*
  • Insecticides / therapeutic use
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Poisoning / etiology
  • Poisoning / veterinary*
  • Pyrethrins / pharmacokinetics
  • Pyrethrins / poisoning*
  • Pyrethrins / therapeutic use
  • Species Specificity


  • Insecticides
  • Pyrethrins