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Famotidine for Dogs: Uses and Side Effects

Stomach and intestinal ulcers in dogs are often treated with famotidine, and the dosage varies depending upon the weight of the dog. This DogAppy article elaborates more on the uses and side effects of famotidine in dogs.
DogAppy Staff
As drugs are primarily metabolized in the liver, and then eliminated via the kidneys, it is very important that you contact a veterinarian to discuss the safety aspect of famotidine in dogs who suffer from liver or kidney problems.
Available under the brand name Pepcid, famotidine is often prescribed to speed up the healing of stomach and intestinal ulcers in dogs. It is observed that ulcer pain gets aggravated when the ulcerated area is exposed to stomach acids that are released when having meals. Famotidine is essentially an acid-suppressing medicine which helps alleviate pain as well as allows ulcers to heal.
The medication is classified as an H2-receptor antagonist (H2RA), meaning, it prohibits the activity of histamine H2 receptors located in the stomach. These receptors stimulate the parietal cells to produce stomach acids. However, H2RA drugs prevent this from occurring, which works toward treating ulcers effectively.
Famotidine is usually available in the form of tablets, but also comes as a liquid formulation, which is taken orally but is also available in an injectable form. So, in case your pet is not comfortable taking the solid dosage, you may prefer giving its counterpart.
Other Uses
This medication may also be given to dogs with acid reflux (heartburn), a condition in which the stomach acid moves upwards and reaches the food pipe. Minimizing production of stomach acid often helps alleviate the symptoms of heartburn. This can be achieved by administering famotidine at the prescribed doses. Veterinarians also prescribe Pepcid for treating a dog's stomach upset that causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, flatulence, nausea, and vomiting. Mast cell tumors, a common type of skin tumor in dogs, is also sometimes treated with famotidine.
Is Famotidine Approved for Dogs?
Famotidine has received approval for human use only, but as pet owners that shouldn't scare you, as the medication is found to be safe when used as instructed by a veterinarian. So, though it is an extra-label drug, the medication is in the dog's best interest, and commonly recommended by veterinarians.
Drug Interactions
Drug interactions is another possibility that cannot be overlooked. For instance, certain drugs can interact with famotidine and cause some side effects. There is an increased risk of drug interactions with famotidine if your pet is put on antacids, heart medication tablets such as digoxin, anti-vomiting drugs like Metoclopramide, or antifungal agents like ketoconazole. In case your pet is taking any of these medicines, your vet will advice you to reschedule your pet's dosage, so that it does not clash with the administration timing of other medicines. A 2-hour gap is usually necessary in between doses of different medicines, so as to prevent any drug interaction.
The weight and size of your dog needs to be taken into consideration so as to determine the dosage of famotidine. Usually, weight-based dosage is the common way for medication dosing in dogs. Famotidine tablets are available in doses of 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg. The prescribed dosage is 0.25 mg to 0.44 mg for every pound of weight. Generally, a 12 to 24 hour gap needs to kept in between administration times.
With or Without Food?
Usually, it is often told that medications should be given along with food, to reduce the occurrence of side effects. However, in case of famotidine, it is advised to avoid giving it along with any meal, as this way of administering the dose will reduce its efficacy and delay the healing of ulcers.
Side Effects
There have been reports of pet owners complaining about tiredness, drowsiness, and lack of appetite in their fury friends. However, in general, side effects from famotidine are a rarity, unless of course your dog has developed allergy to this medication. Allergic reactions can cause symptoms like rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and sweating. In severe cases, the dog may suffer from facial swelling, breathing problems, and even seizures.
Giving the medication in high doses can also cause side effects. Consult with your veterinarian and make sure that the medication is prescribed in appropriate doses. In case any of these side effects occur, immediately notify your veterinarian. He/she may suggest another alternative for famotidine, that works to relieve your pet's issues.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.