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Itraconazole (Sporanox®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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  • Itraconazole is an antifungal drug that inhibits the growth of fungal organisms by interfering with the formation of the fungal cell wall. It is similar in its action to other related drugs, such as miconazole, fluconazole and ketoconazole (Nizoral®).
  • Itraconazole is effective only against fungal or yeast organisms. These fungi are the ones that cause skin infections (dermatophytes) commonly known as "ringworm" and toenail infections. However, it also is effective for some more serious fungal infections, such as blastomycosis and cryptococcosis. These infections can affect the brain, bone, and respiratory tract (lungs).
  • Itraconazole 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 but it is 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: Sporanox® (Janssen)
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Itraconazole

  • Itraconazole is used in both dogs and cats to treat infections caused by fungi. These infections may affect the skin, claws, brain, respiratory tract, bone and other tissues.
  • Infections treated by itraconazole include cryptococcosis (cats), and dermatophyte infections (dogs and cats).

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, itraconazole can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Itraconazole should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • The most serious adverse effect is that which affects the liver (hepatitis). Signs of decreased appetite, jaundice, vomiting or diarrhea should be reported to your veterinarian.
  • Itraconazole may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with itraconazole. Such drugs include antacids, digoxin, cisapride and certain antibiotics.
  • Compared to some of the other antifungal drugs (amphotericin B, ketoconazole), itraconazole has been associated with fewer adverse effects.
  • Itraconazole may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite in dogs and cats.

    How Itraconazole Is Supplied

  • Itraconazole is only available in 100 mg capsules.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The usual dose is 2.5 mg per pound one to two times per day for dogs orally. The dose for cats is 2.5 to 5 mg per pound every 12 to 24 hours. It is common for fungal infections to require several weeks of treatment.
  • 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 or prevent the development of resistance.

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