Cerenia is an antiemetic drug that also has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic properties. FDA approved, it’s active ingredient is Maropitant citrate, which inhibits the activities of neurokinin-1 or NK1 receptors. Mostly used for motion sickness, Cerenia can also be used in the treatment of acute vomiting. It can be used on dogs over the age of 16 weeks for motion sickness and dogs over the age of 8 weeks old for acute vomiting.
It comes in the form of either a tablet or an injection, with an injection often preferred because it is faster-acting. Cerenia can only be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Before you use it, here are some things you should know about Cerenia.
Uses Of Cerenia
Cerenia has two main uses — to treat vomiting relating to diseases that could be causing acute vomiting, and to treat vomiting relating to motion sickness.
Vomiting Related To Diseases
Acute vomiting can be brought on by a number of diseases such as gastorenteritis, acute pancreatitis, renal failure and cholangitis, as well as chemotherapy. Cerenia can be used to treat the vomiting caused by these, and it can also be used to prevent vomiting in dogs that are given opioid pain relief. Cerenia can also be used to stop vomiting through drug overdose, gastrointestinal obstruction, central nervous system disease, hypercalcemia and uremia.
Vomiting Related To Motion Sickness
Vomiting that is related to motion sickness is the primary indication of Cerenia. It can be given orally two hours before the travel time and should effectively prevent your dog from vomiting. You can also inject it, but it works a lot quicker, normally within minutes. It works by competing with the neurotransmitter that attaches itself to a certain receptor in the brain, helping to prevent the transmission of impulses to the vomiting center.
How Cerenia Works
Cerenia works by helping to manage and prevent vomiting. Vomiting through motion sickness occurs due to the tricky relationship between the vestibular system and the eyes. The vestibular system is in the ear and is responsible for gathering information relating to balance and motion. If the eyes are seeing one thing and the vestibular system is feeling another, this is when vomiting can occur. For example, when humans feel nauseous and vomit while at sea, one of the best known treatments is to stare into the distance at the horizon.
This is because the horizon doesn’t move, so your eyes can focus on it even when your body and vestibular system are moving. If you don’t look at the horizon, your eyes and vestibular system are being sent mixed messages. The eyes believe that you are still, while the body senses we are moving. This is exactly what happens to dogs when they experience motion sickness.
When this happens, the brain will send a series of signals to the vomiting center. Cerenia works by preventing these signals to the vomiting center. It does this by competitively antagonizing substance P, which is a neurotransmitter responsible in the triggering of the vomiting center, therefore ensuring your dog doesn’t feel or get sick.
Benefits Of Cerenia
There are a number of benefits to Cerenia. The first and most obvious is, of course, that it helps to stop or prevent your dog from vomiting. However, this vomiting can be caused by a number of things and Cerenia is great for preventing it regardless of the origin. This can include motion sickness, for example if your dog is on a long car journey, if your dog is currently dealing with a certain disease, and it can also be great at supporting other treatments where one of the main side effects is vomiting. Cerenia can also promote your dog’s wellbeing by reducing the amount they vomit and it provides relief to your pup without you having to sedate them.
Potential Side Effects
As we mentioned above, Maropitant citrate is the active ingredient in Cerenia. It has shown to be a lot safer than other antiemetic drugs that help with vomiting, because it is highly specific to it’s target. It also doesn’t bind other central nervous system receptors, only the NK1 receptors that deliver the signals to the vomiting center. That being said, although it is very specific, it does not mean that it doesn’t produce side effects in dogs.
There are a number of side effects that your canine friend could experience as a result of taking Cerenia. The common side effects include loss of appetite, watery bowl movement, drowsiness, lethargy or weakness, increased salivation or drooling and pain at the injection site (if you inject Cerenia). It has also been known to produce life-threatening anaphylaxis, also known as a severe allergic reaction, in 1 out of 10,000 dogs. Although this number is very small, you should still know what to look for as signs of anaphylaxis just in case.
This can include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips and tongue or skin changes. If you notice any of these you should contact your vet immediately.
Things You Should Know About Cerenia
Giving your dog any kind of drug or medication can be scary, but Cerenia is safe if you follow the guidelines. First and foremost, it is FDA approved as being safe for your doggie, so you don’t need to worry. The amount and how often you give the drug to your dog differs, depending on what you are treating. We touch more on this below, but if you are treating motion sickness, the drug should be administered once a day for 2 consecutive days. If you need to administer it again, you must wait 3 days before giving it again for another 2 days.
If you are treating acute vomiting, it can be given for five days consecutively, with one dose a day. We have set out the amounts you need to give your dog based on their weight further on. You should always administer the Cerenia drug with a small amount of food, like a bit of deli meat. Your dog will need to have an empty stomach an hour before administering it.
What You Should Tell Your Vet Before They Prescribe Cerenia
Cerenia can be great at relieving vomiting, but there are a few situations in which you need to mention previous diagnoses to your vet. If your dog has been diagnosed with liver dysfunction, kidney disease, seizures, epilepsy or cardiovascular problems, you will need to tell your vet. You should also let your vet know if your dog is already taking medication of some sort, because certain medications can interfere with Cerenia.
If your dog is pregnant, lactating or nursing, this is another thing to point out to your vet. There have not been many studies on the effects of Cerenia on pregnant, lactating or nursing dogs, so you will want to be safe. Also, if your dog has also ever ingested a toxic substance they may be given a different form of an antiemetic drug, instead of Cerenia.
These points above are not meant to scare you, and we can confirm Cerenia is still safe. However, it is always best to be on the side of caution and tell your vet if there is anything you think may interfere with the use of Cerenia within your pup. You want them to be safe, after all!
How To Give Cerenia To Your Dog
The amount of Cerenia you give to your dog relates to the age that you can give it to them and the reason behind administering it. As we mentioned above, if you are using Cerenia to treat acute vomiting relating to a disease or as a side effect to another medication, the earliest you can give the drug to them is 2 months old. If you are using Cerenia to treat motion sickness however, your dog must be 4 months old.
Cerenia in oral tablet form comes in different preparations — 16-, 24-, 60- and 160-milligrams. Cerenia tablets should be given two hours before travelling and it should mixed with some food, although your dog’s stomach should be empty an hour before you administer Cerenia.
The amount you give your dog relates to their body weight. Currently, the dose is set out at roughly 2mg/kg body weight, given once a day and can be repeated again the following day. If it is needed again, you must wait 3 days before administering Cerenia again over a 2 day period. Below, we have set out the dosage amount based on your dog’s size.
Size & Weight
- 2.0 to 2.2 pounds — 1/2 of 16-mg tablet
- 2.3 to 3.3 pounds — 1/2 of 24 mg-tablet
- 3.4 to 4.4 pounds — one 16-mg tablet
- 4.5 to 6.6 pounds — one 24-mg tablet
- 6.7 to 8.8 pounds — two 16-mg tablets
- 8.9 to 13.2 pounds — two 24-mg tablets
- 13.3 to 16.5 pounds — one 60-mg tablet
- 16.6 to 22.0 pounds —1/2 160-mg tablet
- 22.1 to 33.0 pounds — two 60-mg tablets
- 33.1 to 44.0 pounds — one 160-mg tablet
- 44.1 to 66.0 pounds — one and 1/2 160-mg tablets
- 66.1 to 88.0 pounds — two 160-mg tablets
- 88.1 to 132.0 pounds — three 160-mg tablets
If you are using Cerenia to treat acute vomiting as the result of a disease or other treatment medication, the doses are slightly different. If your dog is between the age of 2 months and 7 months, you can give your dog their dose once a day, again based on their weight, and this dose can repeat for five consecutive days. In cases where your dog is over 7 months of age, you can give them their dose every day until the acute vomiting subsides. We have set out the recommended doses below for you.
Size & Weight
- 2.2 to 8.8 pounds — 1/2 of 16-mg tablet
- 8.9 to 17.6 pounds — one 16-mg tablet
- 17.7 to 26.4 pounds — one 24-mg tablet
- 26.5 to 52.8 pounds — two 24-mg tablets
- 52.9 to 66.0 pounds — one 60-mg tablet
- 66.1 to 132.0 pounds — two 60-mg tablets
It has been recommended that you wrap the Cerenia pill in a small cut of deli meat when feeding it to your dog. Hiding the pill in other foods such as cheese or sausage may delay the absorption of the Cerenia.
What To Do If You Miss A Dose
If you miss a dose of your dog’s Cerenia you should give it to them as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, or only a few hours before, skip the dose you have missed and give the next dose at the correct time. At no point should you ever double up on the dose of Cerenia, even if you missed a dose.
What To Do In Case Of A Cerenia Overdose
If there is an accidental Cerenia overdose, you should take your dog to the vet for medical attention. It should be safe, but some dogs can react badly to an overdose of Cerenia. Effects of overdosing can include irregular breathing, diarrhoea, bloody stool or tremors, among other effects. If you suspect an overdose, it is always best to seek medical advice and take your dog to the vet.