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Hydromorphone for Veterinary Use

By Evan Ware, DVM

Basic Information

Hydromorphone is a very potent opioid analgesic drug. This medication is a narcotic and only available with a prescription from a veterinarian with an active DEA license.

Hydromorphone suppresses the cough reflex within the brain, which can make it an ideal treatment choice for these types of conditions in animals.

Veterinary Uses for Hydromorphone

In veterinary medicine, the primary use for Hydromorphone is to treat moderate to severe pain and preoperatively to reduce the sensation of pain from surgery.

Potential Side-Effects of Hydromorphone

Hydromorphone is a powerful opiate drug, so it can cause some animal patients to experience certain side-effects after the drug is administered. The most-common side effects associated with Hydromorphone are sedation and nausea, although it also can cause some patients to experience constipation.

Drug Interactions with Hydromorphone

Hydromorphone should not be administered to an animal with a known allergy to this or other opiates. It also should be avoided if the patient is suffering from a head injury or is being treated for a bacterial infection of the lungs.

Hydromorphone should not be administered to a patient suffering from pre-existing heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, or low thyroid function unless strictly monitored by the veterinarian. Hydromorphone is not recommended for use in cats, as it can negatively affect the animal's central nervous system.

Other medications potentially can interact with Hydromorphone; therefore, it is critical for the veterinarian to be aware of any medications or supplements the animal already may be taking. Drugs known to interact with this medication include certain tranquilizers, barbiturates, and antihistamines.

For human use, Hydromorphone is available as the commercial drug Dilaudid®.

For Veterinary Practices
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For Pet & Horse Owners
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Therapeutic Class
Opiate Agonist

Dogs, Cats

May Be Prescribed by Vets for:
A sedative/restraining agent, analgesic, and preanesthetic

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About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Evan Ware, DVM

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 interest include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.