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Developed in collaboration with Andrea Johnson, DVM | Co-Founder | PetVet365
Last reviewed: 9/20/2023
Cyclosporine is a potent immunosuppressant agent, meaning it adjusts the immune cells involved in a dog's allergic reaction. Cyclosporine works by acting on the immune cells to reduce inflammation and itching associated with allergies. It is also used to treat many other immune-mediated conditions.
Your veterinarian may prescribe cyclosporine under the brand names Optimmune®, Restasis®, or Atopica® and it may be prescribed as eye drops, ointment, as a pill, or as an oral solution.
Topical cyclosporine is typically very well tolerated by dogs and is not known to produce any serious adverse side effects.
Oral cyclosporine may cause temporary stomach or intestinal issues like nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, loose stools/diarrhea, or uti in some pets. These effects usually disappear after you give the medication for a few days but could last as long as a couple of weeks.
Gingival hyperplasia, the excessive growth or thickening of gum tissue, is also a common side effect. The gums typically return to normal after discontinuing cyclosporine.
Cyclosporine should be used with great caution if given with NSAIDs such as carprofen, or antibiotics like trimethroprin and gentamicin due to possible kidney damage.
If you suspect your pet is experiencing side effects, contact your veterinarian immediately. Drug interactions are generally unlikely but be sure to review any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving from your veterinarian.
Veterinarians prescribe a specific dosage of cyclosporine based on the pet’s weight and condition. It may be applied topically or given orally. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s dosing instructions carefully.
When the appropriate dosage form (a higher concentration ointment or eye drops, for example) is not available, it may be compounded by a specialty pharmacy. Wedgewood Pharmacy specializes in compounding for veterinary ophthalmologists.
Wedgewood Pharmacy provides medication options that help ensure accurate dosing, especially for hard to medicate pets. Click below for a complete list of Wedgewood’s dosing forms and strengths.
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Wedgewood Pharmacy provides medication options that help ensure accurate dosing, especially for hard to medicate pets. Click below for a complete list of Wedgewood’s cyclosporine dosing forms and strengths.
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 pet’s eye or eyelid. It is also 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 for both you and your pet.
If you are giving your pet more than one eye medication (such as artificial tears and cyclosporine), try to allow at least five minutes between medications.
Oral cyclosporine dosages for dogs and cats with chronic, but non–life-threatening diseases typically differ from those for pets with more life-threatening immune-mediated diseases. Pets with chronic mild inflammatory diseases, like dermatitis, immune-mediated skin diseases, anal furunculosis, mild inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic hepatitis, are often started on lower doses (typically 5 mg/kg PO q24h).
It is generally best divided into two daily doses. Absorption of cyclosporine capsules is best when administered on an empty stomach.
Applying too much ophthalmic cyclosporine typically should not seriously affect your pet, but an overdose of oral cyclosporine can cause serious effects.
If you suspect your pet or another animal 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.
Wedgewood Pharmacy’s dosage options for cyclosporine start at $0.65 per dose; however, your veterinarian will prescribe a specific dosage based on the pet’s weight, condition, and other factors.
Compounded medicines are prepared for the exact strength your veterinarian prescribes. The price of the medication will depend on the dosage and the medication form, with certain dosage forms and higher strengths generally being more expensive.
In addition, the price of a medication will depend upon the cost of the other active pharmaceutical ingredients and may increase the cost of the finished drug.
Looking for Cyclosporine?
We can let your veterinarian know that you are interested in our compounded Cyclosporine.
In most dogs, dry eye is a permanent condition that cannot be cured, only controlled. Your dog will likely require some degree of medication long-term. Your veterinarian may prescribe an initial higher dose, then taper off over time to a minimum dose that will still effectively control the condition and its symptoms.
Store cyclosporine at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Do not refrigerate or freeze. After a bottle of liquid cyclosporine is opened, the medication is usable for two months. Be sure to read the label or ask your pharmacist about storage requirements.
Veterinarians prescribe a specific dosage of cyclosporine based on your dog’s weight and condition. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s dosing/application instructions carefully. Try not to touch the container tip to your dog’s eye or eyelid. It is also 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 for both you and your dog.
It may take three to eight weeks until the full benefit of the cyclosporine therapy is reached.
No. Cyclosporine is a steroid-sparing medication which is safer to use topically for prolonged periods of time.
This article is meant to provide general and not medical advice. We strongly recommend that a veterinarian be consulted for the specific medical needs of your animal.
Today’s Veterinary Practice
Cyclosporine for Veterinary Use
Andrea Johnson, DVM, is co-founder of PetVet365, a franchise company that creates new veterinary practices around entrepreneur owners determined to reinvent the animal healthcare profession and to offer the highest quality care for pets and their families.
She began her career as an associate veterinarian with a practice in Kentucky and eventually became owner and chief medical officer for 15 Banfield Pet Hospital franchises in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, with 75 veterinarians on her team. She was a veterinary consultant for LegacyVet and a self-employed consultant prior to co-founding PetVet365.
She holds a BS degree in biology from Marshall University, an MS degree in Biology and Biological Sciences from Marshall University, and a DVM degree from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.
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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.