Metoclopramide for dog vomiting and acid reflux is a medication that veterinarians may prescribe to dogs suffering from digestive issues. While this medication is primarily formulated for human use, it is not FDA approved for use in dogs and cats, but it can be prescribed for use in animals as an extra label drug.
If your dog was prescribed metoclopramide for dog vomiting, you may be wondering about how this drug exactly works, how it can help your dog, it’s side effects and other cautions and warnings you may be concerned about.
Metoclopramide for Dogs
Also known by the brand name Reglan, metoclopramide hydrochloride is a medication that is often prescribed for dogs suffering from nausea, vomiting, delayed emptying of the stomach and esophageal reflux.
When it comes to it pharmacological classification, metoclopramide is categorized as an antiemetic drug (anti-vomiting) and gastrointestinal stimulant.
One of the most common uses of metoclopramide is for dogs suffering from acid reflux, especially when the usual medications (Pepcid for dogs , Prilosec for dog upset stomach) are not working well enough.
It’s important to treat persistent acid reflux in dogs considering that stomach acid can cause damage to the dog’s esophagus long term. The drug may be used to help reduce damage and promote healing. Follow your vet’s recommendations.
This drug can also be prescribed to dogs suffering from metabolic diseases such as kidney failure. Kidney failure is known for causing nausea and vomiting due to buildup of uremic toxins in the blood and other consequences. However, since this drug is metabolized by the kidneys, the dose may need to be decreased.
While metoclopramide if often used to give relief to people suffering from cancer and the nausea associated with undergoing chemotherapy, in dogs, this drug doesn’t appear as effective for this purpose.
Metoclopramide for Dog Vomiting and Acid Reflux
When metoclopramide is prescribed for dog vomiting and acid reflux, this drug works in several different ways that may be beneficial to the dog. Understanding these benefits can help dog owners better comprehend how this drug can help their dogs with an upset stomach and its mode of action.
Metoclopramide works by stimulating the movement of the upper digestive tract without over stimulating the secretion of stomach acid or other secretions.
When prescribed for dog vomiting, metoclopramide is believed to work because of this drug’s direct effect on dopamine receptors in the dog’s brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been implicated in the control of nausea and vomiting.
As mentioned, metoclopramide can also benefit dogs suffering from acid reflux. At a closer insight, once this drug is swallowed and reaches the GI tract, metoclopramide works by tightening the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach (lower esophageal sphincter LES).Metoclopramide also helps empty the stomach faster (prokinetic drug). This is helpful for acid reflux as it means a reduction in the gastric material for reflux.
Faster gastric emptying is also important for treating conditions that cause delays in gastric emptying such as gastritis, and metabolic or post surgical slowing of the bowel. Ileus is the medical term used to depict decreased motility somewhere in the intestines leading to to a buildup of food material.
General Drug Information
Metoclopramide for dog vomiting is available in 5 and 10 mg tablets and in syrup form. It is also available in injectable form and can be given subcutaneously (under the skin) or intravenously (inside a vein) by adding it to fluids in hospitalized dogs so to help prevent or control vomiting.
According to a study (1), this drug has also proved helpful for dogs undergoing sedation using morphine and dexmedetomidine. These drugs are known to induce nausea and vomiting, but this side effect was decreased by giving metoclopramide to dogs 30 minutes in advance.
The general dosage of metoclopramide for vomiting dogs is 0.1 to 0.2 mg per pound (0.2 to 0.5 mg/kg) given 3 to 4 times a day. Dosages vary based on individual factors such as the dog’s medical condition, response to treatment, age, and other medications the dog is on.
Generally, this drug is given 30 minutes prior to meals. If a dog is suffering from reflux only at certain times of the day (such as after the evening meal or at night), the vet may prescribe a single dose before those times rather than prescribing it throughout the day. How long this drug is given depends on several factors such as the condition the dog is suffering from, reaction to the drug and benefits, etc.
Side Effects of Metoclopramide for Dogs
Although metoclopramide provides many benefits, there are also some risks for side effects and precautions to be aware of before giving this drug.
Metoclopramide should not be used in dogs who have ingested toxins or dogs who are suffering from ulcers and associated GI bleeding, obstructions and perforations of the bowel. Dogs with pheochromocytomas, tumors of the adrenal glands should not be put on this drug.
Metoclopramide should be used with caution in dogs suffering from seizures as it may lower the dog’s threshold for seizures. And of course this drug should be avoided in cases of dogs suffering from a hypersensitivity or allergy to this drug.
Metoclopramide may affect the absorption rate of other medications. For example, when taking this drug, the absorption of digoxin is decreased, while the absorption of cimetidine, tetracycline, aspirin and diazepam are increased. This drug may also affect dogs on insulin, sedatives, narcotics, atropine, and certain tranquilizers. Consult with your vet if your dog is on any of these medications as the dosages may need to be adjusted.
Metoclopramide is likely safe to use in senior dogs, although the dose may need to be adjusted, especially in dogs with impaired kidney function, considering that this drug is metabolized by the kidneys. In humans, the occurrence of side effects are more common in elderly patients.
Side effects of metoclopramide for dogs are not very common when the drug is administered at normal doses. The most common adverse effect is sedation. Rare side effects include disorientation, behavior changes and constipation.
Symptoms of an overdose include sedation, staggering, nausea vomiting and constipation.
The concomitant use of Ranitidine (Zantac) may increase the risk of side effects of metoclopramide when given at the same time, explains veterinarian Dr. Chantal Lainesse, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology
If you suspect an overdose consult with your vet at once or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee applies.