Cerenia Killed My Dog? – Everything You Need to Know

Cerenia for dogs vomiting
Image credit: Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock

You might’ve encountered Cerenia as a prescription drug used to treat vomiting and nausea in dogs, but have you also heard about dog owners stating, “Cerenia killed my dog!” 

Is there a truth to this? Can Cerenia really cause death in dogs, or can this drug continue to be used safely by our furry companions with the guidance of veterinary professionals?

Let us unravel the facts about giving dogs Cerenia, including its adverse reactions, when not to give it, how to avoid its overdose, and what other medications can be substituted for this drug. 

What to Do If Cerenia Killed Your Dog

Cerenia killed my dog

If your dog dies after taking Cerenia, get an autopsy report first to establish that it was the drug that killed your dog. If this is the case, immediately report the incident to the drug company, Zoetis Inc. You can also directly report it to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

If the autopsy findings indicate that your dog died from the prescribed Cerenia medication, you can report to Zoetis Inc. at (888) 963-8471 or their website at www.zoetis.com.

Similarly, any other adverse reaction of the dog to the drug must also be reported accordingly. Be ready to submit a copy of your dog’s medical records and describe all the events leading to the dog’s death.

Once all the required information has been provided and validated, expect the drug company to submit a report of your dog’s case to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Direct reporting of animal drug or device side effects and problems to the DFA is also encouraged. 

What Is Cerenia and How Does It Work in Dogs?

Cerenia is a brand of maropitant citrate — an antiemetic or a medication used to treat acute vomiting or prevent vomiting caused by motion sickness in dogs. 

Maropitant citrate is an FDA-approved medication that can’t be purchased over the counter. As a prescription medication, vet guidance is required in administering Cerenia due to its adverse effects.

Cerenia takes action in the central nervous system by blocking the main neurotransmitter that induces vomiting. Aside from this, it is also an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, and anti-anxiety drug. 

It may even be used to relieve symptoms of pancreatitis in canines.

Can Cerenia Kill a Dog?

Cerenia bottle with oral syringe
Image credit: Todorean-Gabriel / Shutterstock

While Cerenia may be effective in treating vomiting, it is said to mask the symptoms instead of treating the underlying disease. Along with possible adverse reactions, it may result in complications and even death.

In fact, the US field study reported in the drug’s package insert stated that 10 out of 206 dogs who were given Cerenia tablets or injectables for acute vomiting resulted in death. This translates to a 4.9% death occurrence. 

The Post-Approval Experience section of the same leaflet also mentions that cases of death have been reported concerning dogs receiving Cerenia medication.

How Does Cerenia Kill a Dog?

To be accurate, Cerenia on its own may not kill dogs. It is the failure to treat the underlying conditions that cause vomiting or the failure to manage the associated adverse or allergic reactions that may cause death in dogs.

When a dog vomits, it flushes toxins, viruses, and bacteria. As Cerenia is given to the dog, it will mask or prevent the dog’s vomiting. Hence, it may also prevent dog owners from treating its underlying cause further.

As a prescription drug, a veterinarian must run tests first to identify any health issues before giving Cerenia to a dog and treat these accordingly. Else, misuse of the drug can lead to its death.

Additionally, Cerenia, like any drug, has its side effects. If left untreated, it may cause an allergic reaction or a complication that can lead to death. 

Also, taking Cerenia may trigger interactions with other drugs if taken together, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, seizure medications, and antibiotics. 

These drug interactions may lead to serious problems for your pet or even death.

Common Side Effects of Cerenia on Dogs

Side effects of Cerenia on dogs

The leaflet that comes with Cerenia’s packaging lists all the possible side effects of the drug. These may include those that affect the dog’s central nervous system, amongst others.

For the dosage used to prevent acute vomiting, the following adverse reactions were observed in those taking both the tablet and the Cerenia injection:

For treatment of motion sickness or car sickness, a higher dosage of oral Cerenia is given, with the following side effects:

  • Hypersalivation or excessive drooling
  • Vomiting that is not associated with motion sickness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Sedation or depression
  • Retching
  • Flatulence

Dose-related side effects of this drug also include decreased appetite and body weight. Hence, reading your prescription label carefully is a must to avoid the dangers of giving too much Cerenia.

Further, dog owners must be informed that administering Cerenia while they are currently using certain drugs may also increase the risks of side effects. These different medications include the ones listed below:

Due to all these possible health issues, proper veterinary care must always be practiced whenever you plan on giving your beloved dog Cerenia. 

When Should You Not Give Your Dog Cerenia?

Though Cerenia is generally considered a safe drug, it must be given on conditions that have already been tested. This helps us mitigate its possible effect on the dog’s health.

To start, Cerenia must never be given to puppies younger than 11 weeks old as it may cause bone marrow hypocellularity

Dogs suffering from liver or heart disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal problems, or toxin ingestion must also be restricted from taking Cerenia. The said conditions may hinder the drug’s effectiveness.

Further, the safe use of Cerenia has not yet been tested in dogs that are used for breeding and in pregnant and lactating dams. So it is best not to experiment on Cerenia’s usage during these periods in a dog’s life.

5 Alternatives to Cerenia for Dogs

Sick dog getting some medicine

If what you have read so far made you uncomfortable giving dogs Cerenia despite all the guidance given for its safe usage, you can try alternatives to battle acute vomiting or vomiting due to motion sickness in dogs.

Below are some of the substitutes to Cerenia that you can explore.

1. Cannabidiol or CBD Oil

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is extracted from the hemp or the Cannabis plant and does not have the psychoactive ingredient THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. Hence, it is proven safe in the treatment of nausea and anxiety in dogs.

As CBD oil creates that calming effect in the dog, it also prevents the vomiting caused by car sickness.

However, professional advice is still recommended when using Cannabidiol oil since there is no established research done yet on the effects of its long-term usage.

2. Alternative Medications

Even though there is no direct evidence that links death to the actual usage of Cerenia itself, a dog owner may look into alternative drugs to manage vomiting in dogs.

Pet owners may substitute Cerenia with Meclizine, Benadry, and Dramamine. These are all antihistamines that can treat inflammation, nausea, and vomiting in dogs with minimal side effects.

Even if the drugs mentioned are more subtle than giving Cerenia for dogs, seeking professional advice is still recommended to ensure proper dosage upon administration.

3. Desensitization to Car Rides

If your dog is not used to car rides, it may feel stressed or anxious every time it needs to travel. This causes your dog’s sensitive stomach to produce acids, leading to inflammation and nausea.

Hence, desensitizing your dog to the feeling of traveling will make them feel at ease, reducing their stress and anxiety. However, this does not guarantee they will never experience car sickness anymore.

4. Reducing Food Intake

Prior to traveling with your dog, it is smart to plan the dog’s meal ahead of time and reduce the amount of food to give. A full stomach would induce vomiting once your dog gets stressed or nauseous.

Similarly, feeding a dog during a car ride is never a good idea, as it may just lead to car sickness and an upset stomach.

5. Use of Calming Agents

Similar to humans, certain substances have scents that have a calming effect, such as lavender, vanilla, and ginger. These can all help in reducing both stress and the possibility of motion sickness in dogs.

Additionally, bringing your dog’s favorite toy, pillow, or piece of your clothing to play or cuddle with will also help relieve anxiety during travel. This also lowers the instance of car sickness for your pet.

You can check this video to learn more about treating car sickness in dogs:

3 Tips to help with Car Sickness in Dogs? | Stop vomiting during car rides!

How to Avoid Cerenia Overdose in Dogs

Cerenia dosage in dogs is computed based on a dog’s age and body weight. Further, the dosage of Cerenia for dogs depends on whether it treats acute vomiting or vomiting due to motion sickness.

Regardless of the condition, the best way to avoid overdose from the drug Cerenia is to stick to the prescription given by your vet. 

For acute vomiting in dogs 2 to 7 months old, it has to be at a minimum dose of 0.9 milligrams per pound of body weight once daily for up to five consecutive days.

For older dogs, it can be once daily until the acute vomiting is resolved.

Alternatively, treating vomiting due to motion sickness for dogs four months and older require a minimum dose of 3.6 milligrams per pound of the dog’s body weight. This can only be given for two consecutive days.

What Happens If I Give My Dog Too Much Cerenia?

Dog after having too much Cerenia

Giving your dog too much Cerenia can lead to an overdose. This impacts the central nervous system, and the possible side effects become more vigorous.

A dog that takes too much Cerenia can exhibit weight loss, vomiting, loose bowel, weakness, lethargy, excessive drooling, bradycardia, and changes in electrolyte levels and white blood cell count, and even in the bone marrow.

If an overdose happens accidentally, rush your dog to the veterinarian immediately. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dog dying while owner holding its hands

Can I Give My Dog Cerenia on an Empty Stomach?

Though it is reported that giving Cerenia on an empty stomach is safe, feeding them a light meal an hour before taking the drug is perfectly fine. 

Other animals that went on longer fasting periods before ingesting the medication have led to instances of vomiting. Hence, this should be avoided.

Does Cerenia Help With an Upset Stomach?

Yes, Cerenia may be prescribed for an upset stomach, especially if this is due to motion sickness. The anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects of Cerenia can help calm the disturbed tummy.

However, it is best to seek veterinary advice before administering the drug. This ensures that no other underlying cause needs to be treated and that the correct dosage is given.

What If My Dog Vomits After Cerenia?

If your dog continues to vomit even after giving it Cerenia, it may mean that the dosage was not enough or something in the dog’s system is preventing it from working.

If this is the case, bring your dog to the vet immediately for an accurate diagnosis of what to do. If the oral tablet does not work, it may be given a Cerenia injectable instead.

How Long Does Cerenia Stay in a Dog’s System?

Cerenia’s effect may last for 20 to 24 hours in many dogs, but some breeds have reported a longer-lasting effect of up to 36 to 40 hours.

Hence, a daily dose of Cerenia should be enough for it to accomplish its task of preventing vomiting in dogs without going overboard.

Is Cerenia Safe for Older Dogs?

Cerenia is considered safe for older dogs, provided that the owner follows the drug’s precautions for the general dog population. This is true for older dogs with liver dysfunction or taking high-protein-bound drugs.

Does Cerenia Make Dogs Constipated?

Although constipation is not part of the side effects documented in the field study that comes with the drug’s package, it has been observed by dog owners in some cases for their pets who took Cerenia.

Should this happen, increasing your dog’s water intake and introducing a high-fiber diet will help treat this condition. 

Does Cerenia Make Dogs Sleepy?

Zoetis has labeled Cerenia as non-drowsy. However, instances of sleepiness in dogs have been reported related to the use of the drug. This should be temporary, though, and expected to wear off after a few hours.

Final Thoughts

Before concluding whether a certain drug can kill a dog, it is always best to thoroughly research the matter. In this case, it can be said that Cerenia alone does not kill a dog.

However, a dog owner must be responsible enough to ensure that treatment of its underlying causes and its possible side effects are prioritized, along with following its dosage accurately.

You will never have to mention, “Cerenia killed my dog!” if you follow all these reminders closely. Have you experienced giving your dog Cerenia? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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