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Albuterol (Proventil®, Volmax®, Ventolin®)

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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Overview

  • When the smooth muscle in the airways contracts, air flow into and within the lungs is impeded. This condition is often referred to as bronchospasm and occurs in disorders such as asthma.
  • Albuterol relaxes the smooth muscle in the airways and provides relief from obstructive airway diseases, such as asthma. Albuterol belongs to a class of drugs called bronchodilators.
  • Albuterol is a ß2-selective agonist with rapid potent vasodilator activity. It also inhibits smooth muscle of the intestine, uterus, and skeletal muscle vasculature. The primary action of beta-adrenergic drugs is to stimulate adenylcyclase, an enzyme that catalyzes the formation of cyclic AMP from ATP. It is cyclic AMP that mediates the cellular response.
  • After oral administration of albuterol, in tablet or syrup form, absorption is rapid, with maximum plasma concentrations being achieved within two hours. Albuterol can also be given by inhalation and, when administered by this route, has an onset of action of less than five minutes and duration of effect of three to six hours in humans.
  • Albuterol is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but may be prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Proventil® [Schering], Volmax® [Muro], Ventolin® [GlaxoSmithKline], and various generic preparations.
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Use of Albuterol

  • Albuterol is used to open the airways in the treatment of bronchitis and asthma.
  • Albuterol has also been used in the treatment of hyperkalemia associated with renal failure.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, albuterol may cause side effects in some animals.
  • Albuterol should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • The drug should be used with caution in animals with heart disease.
  • Possible side effects include anxiety, nervousness, and gastrointestinal problems.
  • Signs of overdose of albuterol include tachycardia, tachypnea, depression, hypokalemia, cardiac arrhythmias, hyperactivity, tremors, hypersalivation, and vomiting.
  • Albuterol may interact with other medications. Consult your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with albuterol. Such drugs include L-deprenyl, tricyclic antidepressants, like clomipramine, and diuretics.

    How Albuterol is Supplied

  • Albuterol is available as an aerosol available for inhalation that delivers 90 mcg per actuation.
  • Oral forms include a 2 mg and 4 mg immediate-release tablets. It is also supplied as 4 mg or 8 mg extended-release tablets.
  • Other preparations include a 2mg/5mL syrup.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The oral dose of albuterol for dogs and cats remains somewhat nebulous. Dosing must, therefore, be gauged to effect.
  • In dogs and cats, a conservative oral dose is 0.025 mg per pound (0.05 mg/kg) given up to 4 times a day, as tolerated.
  • The common method of use of albuterol in cats is by aerosol. The aerosolized form in cats, with feline asthma, a pediatric spacer and a standard albuterol inhaler are used; the typical dose is two "puffs" of albuterol into the spacer, then allowing the cat to breathe through the mask for 10 to 15 seconds. The does is repeated every four to six hours, as necessary and as tolerated.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication, and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed otherwise by your veterinarian





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