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About Cerenia for Dogs (a.k.a. Maropitant)

November 9, 2009 by Maria-Elena Cloherty, DVM

Cerenia is touted by its manufacturer, Pfizer, as a medication which allows pet owners to travel by car with their dogs, without the unpleasant experience of a pet vomiting due to motion sickness. Motion sickness is said to affect 1 in 6 dogs, this medication has been purported to have an effectiveness rate of 93% (reference). So, now owners do not have to suffer with pangs of guilt from having to leave their pets behind with sitters or in a kennel.

What May Cause Motion Sickness
For many pets it believed that it is their anxiety associated with travel, and/or their lack of balance due to movement of the vehicle that consequently leads to vomiting. This medication works in the central nervous system at the emetic center to block the body’s signals that lead to vomiting. This medication is non-sedating, so this will not complicate travel plans or your ability to appropriately assess your pet’s condition while away from home.

Uses of Cerenia
Cerenia has also been used by veterinarians to treat acute nausea/vomiting in pets who present without an obstructive process causing this condition. Some situations in which this medication has shown great benefit is for patients undergoing chemotherapy (especially effective in patients using cisplatin 95%), as well as those with kidney disease, parvoviral infection, pancreatitis, etc.

These patients will often suffer from acute vomiting and if the vomiting is not stopped, it can lead to electrolyte imbalance, weakness, dehydration, and possibly death. This medication can diminish the chance that vomiting will continue, thus decreasing the chance of these sequelae, and thus the need for expensive hospitalization and IV fluid therapies.

This medication can be used safely in dogs 16 weeks and older. Pets should be fasted an hour prior to this medicine being administered, and the dosing should occur 2 hours prior to travel. According to the manufacturer’s guidelines, this medication should be given with a small meal, and not tightly wrapped in a substance that is fatty, as this will prevent it from being efficacious. This medication is used once daily, and for only two days in a row. Though rare, the side effects that have been noted are mostly GI related including the following: excessive drooling, anorexia, lethargy, diarrhea, and rarely vomiting.

Important Notes and Considerations for Pet Owners
Make sure your veterinarian is aware of any other conditions/medications/supplements that your pet is on before using this medication to avoid any contraindicated use of this medicine. This medication should not be given if your pet is breeding, pregnant or lactating, and used with caution in dogs with liver problems. If you detect any side effects in your pet after use of this medication discontinue its use, and call your veterinarian.

Additional Resources


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