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Dextromethorphan (Robitussin-DM®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Overview

  • Respiratory conditions in dogs are associated with severe or chronic coughing. These include tracheobronchitis (kennel cough), chronic bronchitis, tracheal (windpipe) collapse and bronchial compression. In many instances, the only effective therapy for these major airway irritations is a cough suppressant or anti-tussive drug.
  • Dextromethorphan temporarily suppresses coughs due to mild airway irritation. It is at best a mild cough suppressant in dogs.
  • It also helps to loosen and dislodge mucus, especially when combined with guaiphenesin.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.
  • Dextromethorphan is available over the counter but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Robitussin-DM® (AH Robins) and various generic preparations
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Dextromethorphan

  • Dextromethorphan is used to suppress coughing in cases of tracheal or bronchial irritation.
  • It is a temporary measure to alleviate coughing and is less effective than opiate (morphine-related) drugs, such as hydrocodone and butorphanol.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, dextromethorphan can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Dextromethorphan should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Dextromethorphan should not be used to treat chronic or persistent coughs. It is only effective in mild and temporary coughs.
  • Dextromethorphan should not be taken if an animal is diagnosed with pneumonia or other lung disease.
  • Dextromethorphan should be avoided in animals if the coughing is associated with heart disease.
  • Dextromethorphan may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with dextromethorphan. Such drugs include sedatives, tranquilizers and barbiturates.
  • Adverse effects are limited and are primarily associated with sedation.
  • Dextromethorphan is often combined with other cold remedies. Some of these drugs can cause excitement or other adverse effects in pets. Consult your veterinarian before administering any over-the-counter cough remedy.

    How Dextromethorphan Is Supplied

  • There are a variety of concentrations of dextromethorphan, depending on the brand and any other drugs used in combination with dextromethorphan.
  • Dextromethorphan is available in tablet and liquid form.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • 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 by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.




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