Prilosec for a dog’s upset stomach has obtained renewed interest as research out of North Carolina State University has revealed some new interesting findings. Normally found over-the-counter in many drug stores and supermarkets nationwide in the United States, Prilosec for dog upset stomach is often “prescribed” by veterinarians for dogs in need of an acid suppressant.
Many dogs suffering from acid reflux may find relief when they are given a once-daily dose of Prilosec OTC.
Prilosec for Dogs
Prilosec, generic name omeprazole, is an over-the-counter medication meant to prevent secretion of acid in the stomach and therefore plays a role in the prevention and treatment of stomach ulcers. Specifically, Prilosec belongs to a class of drugs known as proton-pump inhibitors. This drug therefore works in a different fashion compared to Pepcid or Tagamet which are H2 antagonists.
H2 antagonists such as Pepcid, Zantac or Tagamet, are also known as H2 blockers because of their ability to block the action of histamine. Histamine plays a role in acid production because it stimulates release of gastric acid from special glands in the stomach. Such class of medications are therefore helpful when too much acid is produced as it may happen in gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) like Prilosec, on the other hand,work by blocking the gastric proton pump which is the terminal stage in stomach acid secretion. By targeting this terminal stage, acid production is significantly reduced. When acid is significantly reduced like that, a more favorable stomach pH is maintained which allows ulcers to heal, resulting in less pain from indigestion and heartburn. Prilosec therefore has been reported to have a superior level of effectiveness when compared to Pepcid.
Prilosec for a Dog’s Upset Stomach
While Prilosec for a dog’s upset stomach is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration (it’s only registered for use in humans), it’s often legally prescribed by vets as an extra-label drug.
According to the AVMA, this means that while the drug dispensed is not in accordance with the approved labeling, it meets the conditions set by the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994 (AMDUCA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The only exception is omeprazole paste which is veterinary-approved for use in horses.
Prilosec for a dog’s upset stomach is helpful for dogs suffering from various digestive problems. When too much acid is produced, there are chances for damage to occur to the dog’s esophagus and stomach. Prilosec is therefore often prescribed for dogs suffering from ulcers or erosions (from ingesting something caustic or from use of medications that can promote ulcers such as aspirin or NSAIDs-non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Prilosec may also be prescribed to dogs suffering from annoying acid reflux disease and night-time bilious vomiting syndrome.
Prilosec for Dogs Side Effects
Prilosec should also be used cautiously in dogs suffering from kidney or liver disease. According to the book Pill Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, the use of Prilosec is likely safe in senior dogs with adequate liver function; however, a lower dose may be recommended.
When it comes to interactions with other drugs, consider that Prilosec may increase the effects of diazepam, phenytoin and warfarin because it slows down their breakdown and elimination time from the body. However, when it comes to ketoconazole, ampicillin and iron salts, Prilosec may decrease the effectiveness of these drugs because Prilosec changes the pH level of the stomach. Prilosec should not be used with drugs that suppress the bone marrow.
It’s still unknown whether the use of Prilosec can be safe in pregnant or lactating dogs. In some studies, high doses have been associated with miscarriage. In a laboratory study on humans,Prilosec has been found to possibly be linked to cancer.
Because Prilosec suppresses acid production, this promotes an abundance of gastrin,which can lead to a number of problems, such as a rebound effect meaning increased stomach acid secretion when stopping taking PPIs.
Dog Prilosec Dosage
The main reason for this warning is that this medication is unstable in acidic environments such as in the dog’s stomach. When you crush the tablets up or open the capsules, it therefore risks becoming inactive once it reaches the acid environment of the stomach. If the pill is crushed your dog therefore may not be getting the full effect of the medication or it may not have an opportunity to work at all, explains certified veterinary technician Lisa.
Prilosec comes in 10 mg and 20 mg strength. When it comes to dosage, here’s what a vet says. “A typical dose rate for this drug when administered to dogs is around 0.5 mg per pound once a day.”says Dr. Scott Nimmo. Since the coated tablets formulated for people should not be crushed or broken, dosing may therefore be difficult for dogs who need a smaller dose.
A Word About Stomach Acid
It’s natural for stomach acid to be produced. Problems start though when too much is produced and it causes problems in affected dogs. A drug like Prilosec can therefore help in preventing ulcers and erosions to the dog’s esophagus and stomach. As demonstrated, Prilosec has a superior effect in acid suppression compared to H2 blockers like Pepcid.
However, it’s important to also understand that acid suppressants only temporarily reduce symptoms and fail to address the underlying cause of excess acid production. On top of that, it’s important to understand the role of stomach acid. Read any physiology textbook and you’ll find stomach acid covers several important roles.
Stomach acid helps the immune system. When dogs ingest food, stomach acid helps kill any potentially harmful bacteria or parasites ingested with the food. It is thanks to the low pH of stomach acid that bacteria and other pathogens don’t make it alive past the stomach.
Stomach acid also helps absorb important nutrients such as vitamin B12 and calcium. For this reason, products such as Prilosec or other PPIs have labels suggesting not giving them for longer than 14 days. In humans, chronic use has been associated with nutritional deficiencies, bone fractures, and heart disease. On top of that consider that stomach acid plays a big role in digestion,breaking down complex molecules. Despite this, vets may prescribe acid suppressing drugs for long term use when they feel the benefits outweigh the risks.
On top of Prilosec, it may help to provide affected dogs with probiotics and to feed them dog 3 or 4 smaller meals throughout the day. Food kept often in the stomach can help keep the excess stomach acid soaked up, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona.
- Tolbert K, Bissett S, King A, et al. Efficacy of oral famotidine and 2 omeprazole formulations for the control of intragastric pH in dogs. J Vet Intern Med 2011;25(1):47-54
- DVM360: A quick guide to gastric acid suppression in dogs and cats
- U.S. National Library of Medicine, Acid reflux drugs linked to increased stomach cancer risk
- Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Dec;14(12):1706-1719.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2016.05.018. Epub 2016 May 20. Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors and Risks of Fundic Gland Polyps and Gastric Cancer: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Tran-Duy A1, Spaetgens B2, Hoes AW3, de Wit NJ3, Stehouwer CD2.
- DVM360: Have You Heard? Omeprazole vs. famotidine: A modern peek at gastric acid suppression in dogs (script).