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Lactulose is a synthetic non-digestible disaccharide which is used to treat hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and chronic constipation in dogs and cats. Oral lactulose is very poorly absorbed and the majority of the drug remains in the colon where it is metabolized by the resident bacterial flora into short chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids acidify the colon contents and draw water and ammonia (NH3) from the blood into the colon. The net effect is to soften the stool and reduce blood ammonia levels by trapping and expelling ammonium ion in the feces.
Lactulose is used to treat HE in both dogs and cats. The most common cause of HE is the presence of a congenital portal-caval shunt. Other causes of HE include acute or chronic liver failure, and juvenile fibrosing liver disease. Lactulose may be administered orally or used in a retention enema during an emergency situation such as a seizuring animal or during a hepatic coma.
Lactulose is also used as a stool softener in the treatment of chronic mega-colon in both dogs and cats, and in the treatment of rectal-anal polyps in dogs.
Diarrhea and dehydration may occur in an overdose situation. Replacement fluids, electrolytes and other supportive measures may be indicated.
Dogs and cats
May Be Prescribed by Vets for:
Reduction of blood ammonia levels, and osmotic laxative
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Barbara Forney, VMD
Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.
She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.
Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.
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This content is intended for counseling purposes only. This content is informational/educational and is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or patient. No claims are made as to the safety or efficacy of mentioned preparations. The compounded medications featured in this content have been prescribed and/or administered by prescribers who work with Wedgewood Pharmacy. You are encouraged to speak with your prescriber as to the appropriate use of any medication. Wedgewood Pharmacy’s compounded veterinary preparations are not intended for use in food and food-producing animals. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.
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