Is Prilosec Safe for Dogs?
Let’s face it: humans deal with a lot of nagging physical unpleasantries on a daily basis. We eat fatty or heavily seasoned foods, we don’t drink enough water, we sit still for long periods of time, we deal with chronic stress that would’ve given cavemen aneurisms, and we certainly don’t get enough sleep. As a result of these and many other factors, many of us experience physical symptoms such as acid reflux with some regularity. Fortunately, modern medicine has given us a wide variety of thoroughly tested, perfectly formulated over-the-counter drugs to treat heartburn and indigestion. But what are we supposed to do when our dog is cooking up an ulcer?
Prilosec is one of our more popular antacids today. Many of us use this drug at the first sign of indigestion, but we are understandably cautious about administering over-the-counter drugs to our furry friends. So, what’s the verdict on Prilosec? Can my dog take Prilosec?
The answer: technically, yes, Prilosec is considered safe for canine use—however, you should not give this or any over-the-counter drug to your dog without the guidance of a veterinarian. Only give your dog Prilosec if they have been examined by a vet who has determined that acid pump inhibitors are the way to go. This is not a drug to give your dog because they seem to be uncomfortable after eating something spicy. If your dog is experiencing mild stomach upset as a result of stress or unfamiliar food, either forego medications altogether or offer them something very mild like Tums. Improperly administered, Prilosec can cause your dog some serious problems.
So, if Prilosec isn’t an antidote for spicy food, what is it? Prilosec, also known as Omeprazole, is mostly used in veterinary medicine to treat or prevent stomach ulcers. It is a proton pump inhibitor that reduces the amount of stomach acid secreted within your dog’s body, resulting in a reduction in stomach acidity that can make it easier for ulcers to heal. A single dose of Omeprazole reduces stomach acidity for around 24 hours, which is why it is usually administered once per day for an extended period.
Though some veterinarians prescribe Prilosec for their patients, they are few and far between. Because there has been very little research on the effects of Prilosec on canine health, the FDA has not cleared this drug for use in dogs. Omeprazole does appear to be effective in the treatment of ulcers and acid reflux (a condition where stomach acid spills up into the esophagus), but it is not without side effects.
If your veterinarian has given you the go-ahead, it is important to follow their instructions carefully. Sick dogs will usually take up to 0.5 mg of Omeprazole per pound of body weight once daily for an extended period. If your dog has an ulcer, their symptoms may begin to improve after just a few days on Prilosec, but it is important to continue administering the drug for as long as your veterinarian has instructed. If you suddenly take them off Prilosec before their ulcer has healed, their symptoms may worsen again.
Most dogs seem to tolerate this drug well—but there has not been a lot of research, and it is always important to air on the side of caution. The most common side effects associated with Omeprazole are nausea, vomiting, loose stools, and excessive gas. Some dogs have also suffered from urinary tract infections, nervous system problems, or protein in the urine.
Even if they have handled Prilosec well in the past, some dogs develop drug sensitivities while taking Omeprazole. These dogs may develop more serious symptoms of allergic reaction, such as itching, dry skin, hives, swelling in the lips, face, and tongue, or breathing problems. If you suspect that your dog is experiencing an allergic reaction, take them to see the veterinarian as soon as possible. Allergic reactions can be fatal if they are severe.
Things to Consider
Prilosec is not recommended for pregnant or nursing dogs. It can also be dangerous for dogs who have existing kidney and liver problems, as well as those who are taking other medications—Prilosec can interact with any other drugs your dog is taking. Talk to your veterinarian about your furry friend’s medical history before accepting any prescriptions. If your dog’s symptoms worsen or do not seem to improve after they have been taking Omeprazole for a while, make another appointment with your veterinarian. It is also important to follow all of your vet’s instructions, including dietary guidelines. The best way to prevent digestive problems is to make sure your dog is eating bland, healthy foods.
In sum, Prilosec should only be given to dogs under the guidance of a veterinarian. Though well-meaning, we don’t have the knowledge to make an appropriate diagnosis based on our dog’s symptoms. If your dog appears to be suffering, do not attempt to treat their symptoms with drugs unless you have consulted a veterinarian—and, once your vet has given you advice, make sure you follow it to a T.