If you’ve ever experienced the agony of heartburn, you’re probably familiar with Prilosec. Prescribed by doctors to help calm the irritation of excess stomach acid, it’s practically a hand-bag necessity for anyone with a fondness for the spicy side of life. But what about dogs? They might not be quite so liberal with the hot sauce as you, but they’re just as prone to the odd spot of over-indulgence. How can you help your best buddy when too much chow has left them feeling down? Is there a Prilosec for dogs? There is, indeed, and it’s called (drumroll, please), Prilosec. Yep, as it turns out, the same Prilosec you use for your own indigestion is the same Prilosec vets prescribe for pets.
What is Prilosec?
Prilosec is the brand name for omeprazole, a type of drug that (most of the time, at least) is one of the few human medications that’s safe for animals. Prilosec / Omeprazole is used for treating and preventing heartburn and stomach/ intestinal ulcers. It works by inhibiting the movement of hydrogen ions (one of the main elements of hydrochloric stomach acid), reducing the secretion of stomach acid, and creating a pH level that facilities the healing of stomach ulcers. If this all sounds a bit too technical for your liking, don’t worry. How it works isn’t really important. All we really need to know is that it DOES work, and it’s as likely to work on your dog as it is on you.
The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t actually approved Prilosec for use in animals, but due to its efficacy, veterinarians can legally prescribe it as an ‘extra-label’ drug (in other words, one that’s prescribed in a manner that’s not in line with the approved labeling, but that still meets the conditions set by the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994 and U.S. Food and Drug Administration). So, it’s legal, it works, and it’s available on prescription. All good to know, but what else do you need to be aware of before you start dosing your dog? Quite a lot actually…
Why is Prilosec prescribed for dogs?
Dogs, like us, can develop ulcers in their stomach and intestines if the stomach produces too much acid or if something is causing the stomach lining to be irritated. And like us, they really don’t like it when it happens. Prilosec stops the production of new ulcers while allowing the old one’s time to heal. As cuteness.com notes, your dog will usually only need to take the medication for as long as it takes your vet to diagnose and treat the underlying issues that are causing them. In some cases, your vet may recommend a more long-term approach to prevent the risk of your dog developing more ulcers in the future. Usually, this will only be needed if your dog has to regularly take other forms of medication (ibuprofen is one of the classic examples) that can damage or irritate the lining of the stomach.
How Is Prilosec administered?
If your vet feels your dog could benefit from Prilosec, they’ll usually prescribe it as a course of tablets or capsules. The pills should be administered at the start of the day before your dog has taken their first meal. The one thing you should never, ever do with a Prilosec pill is to crush it. While other forms of medication can be crushed to facilitate easier administration, Prilosec is different. You should also try and ensure your dog doesn’t chew it – wrapping it in a piece of cheese usually works. If you happen to have a dog that prefers to deliberate over their food more than most (or who’s maybe just taken enough medication in their time to be wary of cheese), speak to your vet about getting the Prilosec prescribed in paste form. As pills only come in 10- and 20-milligram increments, your vet will probably prescribe a paste over pills if the recommended dosage doesn’t have a 0 at the end of it.
What’s the correct dosage?
Prilosec should only ever be used if it’s prescribed by a vet. When it’s prescribed, your vet will instruct you on the proper dosage for your dog. As dogtime.com notes, this will usually be between 0.25 and 0.5 mg for every pound of the dog’s weight. Always be sure to follow your vet’s dosage and administration instructions to the letter, and to only use for as long as they advise.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
Regardless of how much you try to remember, it’s easy to occasionally forget to give your dog their morning medication. Don’t panic if you do: simply take the advice of vcahospitals.com and skip the missed dose and wait until the next dosing time. Don’t be tempted to give extra doses or two doses at the same time: although Prilosec is generally considered very safe, it’s always better to play it safe with any medication.
What should I do if I suspect an overdose?
Fortunately, it’s rare that giving your dog a slightly higher dose of Prilosec in error will result in any adverse reaction. However, always let your vet know what’s happened and follow their advice to the letter. If it’s out-of-hours and you’ve noticed any troubling signs, contact your local emergency facility as soon as possible.
Is Prilosec safe for all dogs?
While Prilosec is generally considered very safe, you need to approach its use in the same way as you would any other type of medication… carefully. If your dog is pregnant, nursing, or has kidney or liver disease, use Prilosec with extreme caution and only use on your vet’s express recommendation. If your dog has reacted negatively to Prilosec in the past, avoid using it completely.
Are there any drug interactions to be aware of?
Prilosec can affect the efficacy of certain other medications, including clarithromycin, clopidogrel, cyanocobalamin, cyclosporine, digoxin, diazepam levothyroxine, rifampin, and warfarin. Always let your vet know about any prescribed medications your dog is taking. If you’re supplementing their diet with any herbal therapies, vitamins, or over-the-counter supplements, let your vet know the exact details. Avoid starting any new regimes during a course of Prilosec without first consulting your vet.