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Dextromethorphan for Treating Bronchial Irritation in Dogs

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By Evan Ware, DVM

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Basic Information

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant that can be obtained over the counter under its brand-name human formulation, Robitussin-DM®, or in unique formulations through a veterinary compounding pharmacy. It is used in veterinary medicine primarily in cases of bronchial or tracheal irritation.

Veterinary Medicine Uses for Dextromethorphan

Dogs can suffer from an array of respiratory conditions, from tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough, to chronic bronchitis, and in these cases (or in the case of a collapsed windpipe or bronchial compression), coughing can add to the pain and discomfort the dog already may be experiencing. If the coughing is left untreated in a pet, it can make a bad problem worse.

Dextromethorphan temporarily suppresses coughing in dogs that are suffering from mild irritation of the airway, thereby reducing the risk of the condition worsening through the strenuous act of coughing. When combined with Guaifenesin, Dextromethorphan not only helps reduce the cough, but also loosens and dislodges mucous.

Potential Side-Effects of Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan can cause some animals to experience certain side-effects, the most common one being mild sedation, although it can be accompanied by general nausea and some dizziness.

Drug Interactions with Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan also can cause a reaction with one or more medications. Possible interactions include sedatives, narcotics, antihistamines, and central nervous system depressants. Dextromethorphan should also not be given within 14 days of administered monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

Precautions for Using Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan can be appropriate to treat coughing in dogs, but it is only when used following your veterinarian's instructions. Just because this medication is available over the counter does not make it safe to give as you wish. It should be given to an animal only under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian.

This medication should not be administered to pets with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to it. Administering Dextromethorphan should also be avoided in pregnant or nursing animals, or those suffering from heart disease or chronic coughs. Dextromethorphan may be an appropriate treatment for coughing in dogs, but only when used as advised by your veterinarian."

Dosage and Administration of Dextromethorphan

The commercially available dosage-form available for Guaifenesin/Dextromethorphan is an oral suspension. Wedgewood Pharmacy's oral suspensions and solutions are familiar and convenient dosage forms. Oral suspensions and solutions can be administered directly into the mouth using a dosing syringe or mixed with a small amount of food. They offer a wide range of flavoring options, and flexible dosing adjustments.

One strength combination of compounded Guaifenesin/Dextromethorphan oral suspension is available.

  • Dextromethorphan HBr 5 mg/ml
  • Guaifenesin 50 mg/ml

Other Dosage-Forms Available

Compounded Guaifenesin/Dextromethorphan also is available as an anhydrous oral suspension. Different strengths may be available.

Available Flavors

Anchovy; Apple; Apple/Molasses; Bacon; Bacon/Beef; Bacon/Marshmallow; Banana; Banana/Marshmallow; Beef/Chicken; Beef/Marshmallow; Butterscotch; Butterscotch/Marshmallow; Butterscotch/Vanilla; Cherry; Cherry-Vanilla; Chicken & Liver; Chicken, natural; Chicken-Marshmallow; Duck; Fish; Fish/Marshmallow; Half Fish; Marshmallow/Peanut Butter; Marshmallow/Vanilla Butternut; Molasses-Peanut Butter; Triple-Fish; Tutti Frutti; Tutti Frutti/Marshmallow; Vanilla/Marshmallow; Venison and Venison/Marshmallow.

About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.