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Hydrocodone for Dogs and Cats

By Evan Ware, DVM

Last reviewed: 9/19/2022

Commonly prescribed for: Treating excessive coughing due to a wide range of respiratory problems

Species: Dogs and Cats

Therapeutic Class: Opiate Mu-agonist


Basic Information

Hydrocodone is a powerful opiate mu-agonist, much like morphine, that can be prescribed by veterinarians to treat excessive coughing due to a wide range of respiratory problems. Hydrocodone is a controlled schedule Class II drug that is only obtainable with a prescription from a veterinarian who has an active DEA license.

Dealing with Coughing in Dogs

When dogs suffer from chronic coughing, it can be a result of a respiratory condition or a trauma to the bronchial or tracheal tracts. Hydrocodone is a popular treatment option for these types of conditions because it effectively suppresses the cough reflex within the medulla of the brain.

In veterinary medicine, Hydrocodone is prescribed to treat canine respiratory conditions like chronic bronchitis, bronchial compression, a collapsed windpipe (trachea), and tracheobronchitis or kennel cough.

Possible Side Effects of Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is a powerful opiate, so it can cause some animal patients to experience certain side-effects after the drug has been administered. The most-common side effect associated with Hydrocodone is sedation, although it also has been known to cause constipation, nausea, and vomiting in some more sensitive patients.

Hydrocodone Precautions

There can be some instances where Hydrocodone should be avoided. This medication should not be administered to an animal patient with a known allergy to it. It also should be avoided in cases involving head injury or active bacterial infection of the lungs.

Hydrocodone is not recommended for a patient suffering from heart or lung disease, kidney disease, or low thyroid-function, unless the patient is strictly monitored by a veterinarian while undergoing treatment.

Hydrocodone should not be administered to cats, as the drug can negatively affect the animal's central nervous system.

Hydrocodone and Possible Drug Interactions

Hydrocodone can interact with other drugs your pet may be currently taking; therefore, it is critical to discuss your pet's drug regimen with the veterinarian beforehand. Drugs that interact with Hydrocodone include tranquilizers, barbiturates, antidepressants, antihistamines, and others.

How Is Hydrocodone Supplied?

Hydrocodone is available from compounding pharmacies in an oral tablet formulation. A licensed veterinarian should determine the dose and frequency of administration. For the drug to work as intended, following the prescription as closely as possible is key. If a dose is missed, you should consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
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Popular Hydrocodone Dosage Forms

Dosage options starting at $0.36 per dose

Hydrocodone: Quad Tab

Hydrocodone: Quad Tab

Quarter-scored tablets for maximum flexibility in oral dosing.

Hydrocodone: Oral Suspension

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Water based oral suspension with a wide variety of flavoring options.

Hydrocodone: Capsule

Hydrocodone: Capsule

Oral medication available in gelatin or veggie capsule options.