Is Prilosec Safe for Cats?
Some of us have stomachs as resilient as rocks, but others of us are not so lucky—the slightest change in diet, sleeping habits, or stress levels, and suddenly we are left with heartburn that refuses to go away for hours or even days. Our ancestors had much more pressing issues to deal with, but modern man is busy, always stressed, always sleep deprived, and armed with an array of over-the-counter medications to combat the aches, pains, and little ailments that come with modern life. After a day or two of fast food, we often have to rely on antacids to calm our complaining stomachs. Prilosec is one of our favorites.
Drugs like Prilosec are great for our own use, but what are we supposed to do when stress starts to get to our furry friends? Can we use this handy drug on our cats’ acid reflux? Can my cat take Prilosec?
Before we get into the specifics of using Prilosec on cats, it is important to stress that all of your cat’s severe or chronic symptoms should be examined by a veterinarian. No matter how mild, safe, or pet-friendly one of your favorite medications seems to be, there is always some risk of your cat developing an adverse reaction or suffering from an accidental overdose. Treating your pets at home is also dangerous because of the risk of misdiagnosis—unless you are a veterinarian yourself, it is unlikely that you are qualified to diagnose whatever is ailing your pet. To make sure you are not treating the wrong thing, consult a veterinarian before you turn to your personal pharmacy.
As for Prilosec: technically, yes, this drug can be given to felines to prevent or treat stomach ulcers. This is not a drug you should give your cat if they are dealing with an upset stomach due to a stomach bug or an isolated case of indigestion—most upset stomachs should be left to resolve themselves. If your cat’s dinner did not sit well with them, either let their bodies resolve the problem on their own or offer them a small quantity of something very mild that will ‘soak up’ excess acid in their stomach, like Tums.
If your veterinarian has examined your cat and determined that they are cooking up an ulcer, they may prescribe Prilosec (also called Omeprazole) to help improve healing. We should note, however, that Prilosec has not been FDA approved for veterinary use—this drug has only started being used on animals very recently, and there is little research on the long-term effects of Omeprazole usage in cats.
In veterinary medicine, Prilosec is prescribed exclusively for the use of treating stomach ulcers. This drug is a proton pump inhibitor which works by reducing the amount of stomach acid that your cat’s body produces—less acid takes some of the burden off your cat’s stomach lining, which can make it easier for ulcers to heal properly. Omeprazole’s effects last for around 24 hours, so most veterinarians recommend that cats take it once per day for a given period of time while the ulcer heals.
If your veterinarian has recommended Omeprazole as your cat’s primary treatment, they will provide specific dosing instructions. This drug is usually administered in the morning before breakfast, which will maximize absorption and effectiveness. Prilosec appears to be safe when it is used as directed, but it is not a risk-free medication—it may be dangerous to cats with allergies, as well as those already suffering from kidney or liver problems. This drug can also interact with, or reduce the effectiveness of, other medications. To protect your cat, make sure your veterinarian is aware of any and all medications that they are already taking. This includes herbal supplements, spices, and superfoods.
Things to Consider
If your veterinarian has prescribed Prilosec, it is critical to make sure that you continue to administer it to your cat for the recommended length of time. It is possible that your cat’s symptoms may improve after several days on Prilosec. Even if your cat appears to have recovered, continue to give them Prilosec until the prescription runs out. If you take your cat off the drug before the ulcer has fully healed, it will be more likely to come back, which may result in complications.
Most cats handle this drug pretty well. Side effects are usually mild and include vomiting, diarrhea, and gas. If your cat’s symptoms worsen, or if they develop new symptoms, consult a veterinarian—they may be having a reaction to the drug, or they may have been misdiagnosed.
In conclusion, Prilosec is safe to give to cats who have been diagnosed with a stomach or intestinal ulcer. This drug should only be administered under the guidance of a veterinarian. If your cat is dealing with severe or chronic symptoms and you have reason to believe that they are suffering from an ulcer, seek veterinary care before attempting to treat their symptoms at home.