Top 10 Medications Prescribed for Dogs
Here is a cheat sheet of the most common prescription drugs for canines.
In community pharmacies, we often see prescriptions for dogs. These can be challenging for pharmacists, because our typical references do not offer proper dosing for pets.
Here is a cheat sheet for 10 of the most commonly prescribed drugs for dogs:1
1. Metronidazole has not been approved by the FDA for animals, but it is quite often prescribed for Giardia infection. The typical dose is 15 to 20 mg/kg PO q12 hours for 5 to 7 days.
2. Famotidine is frequently prescribed along with metronidazole to help with an upset belly. The usual dose is 0.5 to 1 mg/kg PO q12 to 24 hours.
3. Diphenhydramine is regularly used to treat acute allergy symptoms. It is dosed routinely as 2 to 4 mg/kg PO q8-12 hours.
4. Doxepin is prescribed to help treat anxiety but also to help with chronic allergies. The average dose range is 3 to 5 mg/kg PO q8-12 hours.
5. Tramadol is commonly prescribed for pain in dogs. The typical dose is 2 to 5 mg/kg q6-12 hours.
6. Prednisone is often used for dogs as an anti-inflammatory and as an immunosuppressant. The dose ranges widely but usually starts at 0.5 to 2 mg/kg per day.
7. Ketoconazole is used often in dogs for a variety of fungal infections. The dose most often seen is 5 to 10 mg/kg PO q12-24h.
8. Hydrogen peroxide 3% is used as an emergency emetic. It is best for the animal’s guardian to first contact the emergency veterinarian or Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435. If needed, the dose is 2 ml/kg every 10 minutes for 3 doses (maximum, 45 ml). It also helps to gently massage the dog's belly and encourage him or her to walk around.
9. Doxycycline has not been approved by the FDA for use in animals, but it is used to treat a plethora of bacterial infections in dogs. Doses range from 3 to 5 mg/kg q12-24 hours. The Lyme disease treatment dose is 10 mg/kg PO q24 hours.
10. Sucralfate is often used for acute gastrointestinal distress, as well as GI ulcers. A flat dose is used 0.5 to 1 gram PO q8 hours. Smaller dogs would start on the lower side of range.
I most often see guardians come in for prescriptions to treat their pups for belly upset with diarrhea. I suggest adding some canned pumpkin to the dog’s food, once they restart feeding. The fiber in pumpkin can help bulk up the stools. They can add unsweetened all-natural applesauce to the food. The applesauce contains pectin that acts to tighten the bowels. Also, Slippery Elm powder, 1 teaspoon per 25 lbs. mixed in with warm water 3 times a day can help soothe the dog’s digestive tract. Animal guardians should discuss changing their dog to a raw diet and adding a daily probiotic.2,3
The dogs’ guardians often ask how to successfully give these medications to their pets. In my experience, I find that it is best to use the tablet/capsule form instead of a liquid form. Some dogs are not that discerning, so the pill can just be mixed in with their meals. For more finicky dogs, coat the pill in peanut butter or hide it in some cheese or meat. There are also Pill Pockets that dogs seem to love.
1. Plum D. Plumb’s Veterinary Handbook. 8th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons; 2015.
2. Zucker M. The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press; 1999.
3. Flaim D. The Holistic Dog Book: Canine Care for the 21st Century. Hoboken, NJ: Howell Book House; 2003.