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Cyclosporine for Dogs and Horses

By Barbara Forney, VMD

Last reviewed: 7/12/2022

Commonly prescribed for: Dry Eye (KCS) and Pannus

Species: Dogs and Horses

Therapeutic Class: Nonribosomal Peptide

General Drug Information and Indications

Cyclosporine eye drops and ophthalmic ointment are used in dogs to treat dry eye and pannus. The veterinary term for dry eye is keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS. When used to treat KCS in dogs, cyclosporine causes increased tear production and decreases local inflammation in the eye and tear gland. It also has a calming effect on inflammation of the cornea. Dogs that respond well to cyclosporine ophthalmic should remain on the medication for the rest of their lives. Your veterinarian may perform a Schirmer Tear Test on your dog to determine the severity of your dog’s dry eye and to monitor tear production. At the beginning of treatment your veterinarian also may prescribe artificial tears to be used along with the cyclosporine ophthalmic until tear production has improved. It may take three to eight weeks until the full benefit of the cyclosporine therapy is reached. Cyclosporine is effective in about 75-85% of dogs with KCS.

Cyclosporine ophthalmic is also used in German Shepherds to treat pannus or chronic superficial keratitis. Pannus is an immune disorder of the cornea. Cyclosporine has become the treatment of choice because it is both effective and has a lower incidence of systemic side effects when compared to topical corticosteroids.

Cyclosporine ophthalmic does not appear to be effective for the treatment of dry eye in cats or in feline eosinophilic keratitis. This is probably because in the cat these conditions are thought to be associated with an underlying herpes virus infection that is not responsive to cyclosporine.

Cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment is FDA approved for use in animals. When the appropriate dosage form (for example higher concentration ointment or eye drops) is not available from a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer, it may be compounded by a specialty pharmacy.

How to Give This Medication

Give this medication to your pet exactly as your veterinarian prescribes. If you miss giving your pet a dose of cyclosporine, give the next dose as soon as you remember or, if it is close to the next scheduled dose, return to the regular schedule. Do not double dose to catch up.

Administering eye medications to animals can be a struggle and may require patience and practice. Try not to touch the tube or container tip to your dog’s eye or eyelid. It also is important not to contaminate the medication by touching the tip with your fingers or hand. Your veterinarian can help you develop a technique that will be effective and minimally stressful to both you and your dog.

If you are giving your dog more than one eye medication (such as artificial tears and cyclosporine), try to allow at least five minutes between medications.

Wash your hands after giving your pet this medication.

Side Effects

Be sure to discuss any side effects with your veterinarian immediately.

Systemic side effects are unlikely with cyclosporine ophthalmic


Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children.

Cyclosporine may be used in animals that are being treated for a corneal ulcer, but these dogs will need topical ophthalmic antibiotics and additional monitoring.

Drug Interactions

Be sure to review with your veterinarian any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving.


If you suspect your pet or another animal was accidentally overdosed or has eaten this medication inadvertently, contact your veterinarian or the A.S.P.C.A.’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435. Always bring the prescription container with you when you take your pet for treatment.

If you or someone else has accidentally ingested this medication call the National Capital Poison Center at 800.222.1222.


Different strengths or dosage forms of cyclosporine may have different storage requirements. Read the labeling or ask your pharmacist for the storage requirements of the prescription you receive.

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Popular Cyclosporine Dosage Forms

Dosage options starting at $0.65 per dose

Cyclosporine: Ophthalmic Solution

Cyclosporine: Ophthalmic Solution

Sterile solution, applied to the eye.

Cyclosporine: Ophthalmic Suspension

Cyclosporine: Ophthalmic Suspension

Sterile suspension, applied to the eye.

Cyclosporine: Capsule

Cyclosporine: Capsule

Oral medication available in gelatin or veggie capsule options.