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Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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  • Antihistamines are most often used in the treatment of allergies. However, some of these drugs also are useful to reduce the sensation of motion sickness, often caused by travel or diseases of the inner ear. Many dogs develop carsickness and drool excessively or vomit during an automobile, boat or airplane ride.
  • Dimenhydrinate is an antihistamine that inhibits stimulation of the vestibular system of the brain. The vestibular system is located within the inner ear and is responsible for detecting motion. Excessive or overstimulation of the vestibular system can result in dizziness, nausea and stumbling.
  • 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.
  • Dimenhydrinate is available over the counter but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.

    Name Brands and Other Brands

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Dramamine® (Upjohn) and various generic preparations
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Dimenhydrinate

  • The most common use for dimenhydrinate is to reduce symptoms associated with motion sickness in dogs or cats.
  • Dimenhydrinate can also be used to help with nausea unrelated to motion sickness, such as that related to inner ear (vestibular) disease.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, dimenhydrinate can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Dimenhydrinate should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Dimenhydrinate should be used with caution in animals with glaucoma, prostate gland enlargement and certain stomach and urinary bladder abnormalities.
  • Dimenhydrinate should also be avoided in animals with an overactive thyroid, seizure disorder, heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • Dimenhydrinate may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with dimenhydrinate. Such drugs include heparin, tranquilizers and sedatives.
  • Adverse effects include sedation, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea or lack of appetite.

    How Dimenhydrinate Is Supplied

  • Dimenhydrinate is available in 50 mg tablets and various strength liquid forms.
  • Dimenhydrinate is also available in 50 mg/ml injectable forms.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • For dogs, a common dose is 4 mg per pound (8 mg/kg) three times daily.
  • For cats, 12.5 mg total dose per cat three times daily.
  • 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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