Cerenia For Dogs. What is it and WHAT is it for?

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Published by Dr. Catharina Hjorth

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What is Cerenia for Dogs?

We all know the feeling of being nauseous- and even worse than that, the feeling when we get so sick that we are vomiting! Cerenia for dogs is a type of dog nausea medicine and is the first FDA-approved veterinary medication to effectively treat vomiting in dogs and cats! 

Just like us, our dogs can feel nauseous and start vomiting. Feeling waves of nausea can be because they are sick, or perhaps they are just suffering from motion sickness! 

No matter what is causing the vomiting, Cerenia for dogs can, in many cases, luckily, help your best friend to feel better sooner rather than later. 

Sick Ill Dog

What is Cerenia Used for in Dogs?

Cerenia for dogs contains the active ingredient maropitant citrate. It is registered to treat vomiting in dogs as a dog car sickness medicine, working by alleviating nausea. 

Cerenia can also treat nausea in many other situations, even though it isn’t meant for vomiting in situations other than motion sickness. 

There are many possible reasons why your dog may be feeling ill and where Cerenia might help your dog. Some of the situations that may cause nausea in dogs include: 

  • Infectious diseases (e.g., parvovirus). 
  • Kidney diseases (e.g., kidney failure). 
  • Liver diseases (e.g., hepatitis). 
  • Pancreatic diseases (inflammation in the pancreas). 
  • Gastrointestinal diseases (e.g., vomiting and diarrhea with no known origin). 

Just remember, if you suspect your dog is suffering from any of the above, you should contact a veterinarian to ensure your dog is receiving the best possible care.

Don’t give your dog Cerenia if it’s been vomiting without being in a car, even if your vet prescribed it for nausea related to motion sickness.  

Don’t give your dog Cerenia unless it has been administered by a veterinarian for this specific situation, as there are conditions where Cerenia may be counter-productive to use! 

But what does Cerenia do for dogs? Cerenia for dogs, or maropitant citrate in general, is an antiemetic (anti-vomiting) medicine. It works by inhibiting a neurotransmitter (a communication molecule) within the brain called substance P. 

In simple terms, substance P is the transmitter that tells the brain that “something bad is happening in the stomach” and then tells the body to empty its stomach— activating the feeling of nausea to get the process started. 

When maropitant citrate inhibits and stops substance P, the transmitter can no longer signal the brain that it needs to empty the stomach. Slowing down and possibly stopping, these signals will reduce the feeling of nausea and, in effect, inhibit the response of vomiting altogether!

Another benefit of Cerenia is that inhibiting nausea will, obviously, often make the dog much more likely to eat, something we prefer if the dog is sick, but also if we just want it to feel better after a drive. 

What is Motion Sickness in Dogs?

Maybe you remember as a child riding in the back of a car and getting motion sick- perhaps you still feel this way as an adult. Dogs can get motion sick just like humans, which is pretty uncomfortable for them. 

Motion sickness is a pretty common occurrence amongst dogs. Some studies even suggest that up to 48% of dogs are affected to some degree by motion sickness.

Humans and dogs both have motion-sensing parts within the body. Motion can be detected by the eyes, joints, muscles, and especially the inner ears. When we are driving, the eyes will tell the brain that the body is moving; the other parts may send signals that the body is stationary.

When the brain receives these conflicting signals, it will get confused. The brain may even think that the body has been poisoned! The brain, therefore, sends an alert to the body, with the help of substance P, that it needs to empty the stomach. These signals effectively cause all the symptoms we associate with motion sickness in dogs and ourselves.

Signs of Motion Sickness in Dogs

Some of the most common signs of motion sickness and nausea in dogs include: 

  • Drooling and hypersalivation. 
  • Shaking and tremors. 
  • Yawning repeatedly. 
  • Whining. 
  • Panting and shallow breathing. 
  • Lip licking continuously. 
  • Retching and dry heaving.
  • Vomiting. 

If your dog frequently gets motion sick when driving, it may limit you and your dog’s freedom quite a lot as it can discourage you from taking your dogs out and about in all kinds of situations. Luckily, there are nausea meds for dogs, like Cerenia, available for you and your dog to live your best life! 

What Are the Side Effects of Cerenia for Dogs?

Like all types of medication, there are some Cerenia side effects you should be aware of when you give your dog the medication, but these are often relatively mild. 

The most common side effect of Cerenia for dogs, or maropitant, is vomiting and drooling. Vomiting can occur roughly two hours after administering the medication due to the relatively high dosages needed to help treat motion sickness. If this occurs, you should contact your veterinarian and not give your dog the medication anymore. 

Other Cerenia side effects include 

  • Lethargy (tiredness). 
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite. 

Generally, though, Cerenia for dogs is considered a safe and reliable anti-emetic for dogs. 

Animal Dog Pill Treatment

Cerenia vs. Dramamine

Another option if your dog frequently experiences motion sickness is Dramamine, with the active ingredient dimenhydrinate. But what are the differences between Cerenia for dogs and Dramamine? We’ve put the two products up against each other: Cerenia vs. Dramamine. 

CereniaDramamine
FDA-approved veterinary medication. Off-label medication*
It does not cause drowsinessCauses drowsiness
Can be administered as: 
-A tablet 
-An injection
Can be administered as: 
-A tablet 
-A compounded liquid
-An injection
Should be given 3 AND 2 hours before traveling. Should be given 30-60 minutes before traveling. 

*Many drugs and medications are commonly described as off-label within veterinary medicine. Being off-label doesn’t mean it is more dangerous or wrong to use. The medication just hasn’t been made directly for veterinary use. 

Therefore, it is essential to follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely when using an off-label medication, as these may vary from what it says on the medication label.  

In short, the most significant difference between the two products is that Dramamine is a type of anti-histamine and will therefore often cause your dog to become sleepy. Some anecdotal evidence also suggests that Cerenia for dogs is more effective, but peer-reviewed studies have not confirmed this at the moment. 

The Benefits of Cerenia for Dogs

Cerenia is an excellent medication for dogs in many situations, both within and outside the veterinary hospital. One of our favorite benefits is that Cerenia for dogs is the first veterinary FDA-approved medication to help treat vomiting due to motion sickness. 

Another significant benefit is that it does not cause drowsiness. It may seem like a great idea to have your dog sleeping while you go for a ride, but if you aren’t going very far, it may be pretty annoying actually to then have to drag around an exhausted dog. It all depends on what you want!

Another great benefit of Cerenia is also that it is easy to administer! 

How to Administer Cerenia to your Canine

Cerenia for dogs is very easy to administer, both at the vet clinic and home when it’s been prescribed by a veterinarian. At home, Cerenia can be administered as an injection under the instruction of a veterinarian. 

Cerenia can also be administered even more efficiently, as a Cerenia tablet, given to the dog by mouth. When giving the tablet, give it with food, but be careful not to wrap it too well. Wrapping the pill too much can prevent it from being absorbed correctly into the system- thereby limiting its effectiveness. 

Cerenia for Dogs Dose Chart

Most commonly, Cerenia for dogs is administered as Cerenia tablets, as this is the easiest for in-home administering before going on a drive. Always follow your veterinarian’s instructions when it comes to doses. However, here’s our quick guide to Cerenia tablets for dogs:

Cerenia Doses for Dogs Over Four Months of Age
Dog Body WeightTablet Dose
Up to ( lbs)Up to ( kg)16 mg 24 mg 60 mg160 mg
2,21,00,5   
3,31,5 0,5  
4,42,01   
6,63,0 1  
8,84,02   
13,26,0 2  
16,57,5  1 
22,010,0   1
33,015,0  2 
44,020,0   1
66,029,9   2
88,039,9   2
123,055,8   3

Although many dogs and their owners see a significant effect from using Cerenia for dogs, for some dogs, it just can’t take away all of the motion sicknesses. Do not despair if this is the case. 

If you feel like your dog isn’t benefiting from the effects of Cerenia, do not give it an extra pill or increase the dose. An overdose can be dangerous for your dog. Instead, call your vet to see if more can be done for you and your best friend! 

What Should I Do if I Missed a Dose of Maropitrant Citrate?

If you missed giving your dog a dose of Cerenia, you should give it as soon as you remember, but wait after that for the recommended amount of time before giving the next one. The recommended period will often be 24 hours, but contact your veterinarian for guidance if in doubt. 

Are There Any Risk Factors to Giving a Dog Cerenia?

Cerenia, or maropitant, should not be used in dogs that have ingested toxins because if your dog has ingested toxins, we often want them to come back up and will therefore attempt to induce vomiting. Therefore you should not give your dog Cerenia if you suspect your dog is nauseous due to something toxic. 

Nor should Cerenia for dogs be given if you or your veterinarian suspect that your dog is suffering from a gastrointestinal obstruction. 

Do not use Cerenia for dogs in puppies younger than four months without the guidance of a veterinarian. Some studies suggest that the high motion-sickness doses of Cerenia can cause bone marrow suppression in young puppies in a few rare cases.

Maropitrant Citrate’s Drug Interactions

Remember to notify your veterinarian of any medication, supplements, or vitamins your dog may receive. Other drugs, even drugs that seem like harmless supplements, may affect whether your dog can receive Cerenia and its effect within the body. 

Cerenia for dogs should be used with caution and only under the instruction of a veterinarian when given in conjunction with the following medications: 

  • Chloramphenicol (a type of antibiotic).
  • Phenobarbital (epilepsia drug). 
  • Erythromycin (a type of antibiotic). 
  • Ketoconazole (a drug to help treat Cushing’s Disease). 
  • Itraconazole (anti-fungal medication). 
  • NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory painkillers). 
Dog Taking Pill

How to Store Cerenia?

Cerenia is an excellent anti-nausea medication for dogs to keep in your home if your dog frequently suffers from motion sickness. The tablets need only be stored at room temperature and kept away from moisture. 

If your dog has been prescribed the injectable solution, you should keep this at room temperature if it is unopened. If you have punctured the vial, store the solution in a fridge between 36-46 °F (2-8 °C), and use it within 90 days. 

Do not use the Cerenia solution if it is older than 90 days, as it may have fewer adverse effects on your dog. The solution cannot be frozen to extend its lifespan. 

If your dog frequently suffers from motion sickness, it is definitely worth giving your veterinarian a call to see if they can help. For many dogs, Cerenia is the anti-nausea med that means they can suddenly go with you on the road trips you always dreamed of! 

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AUTHOR

With a veterinary master's degree from the University of Copenhagen in 2023, this accomplished writer's academic journey culminated in a thesis focused on the "Feasibility of using ultrasound of the abdomen for early diagnosis of necrotizing enterocolitis in neonatal pigs." Additionally, their dissertation delved into the intriguing topic of "Mercury accumulation in Greenlandic sleddogs." Beyond her academic achievements, her passion for animal health seamlessly merges with her love for writing. She excels in harmonizing clinical precision with literary expression, crafting articles that resonate with the heartbeat of her veterinary profession.

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