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Nitroglycerine Paste ( Nitrol ®, Nitro-bid®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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  • Nitroglycerine is best known for its explosive properties; however, when properly diluted and combined with other chemicals, nitroglycerine can be safely used for medicinal purposes.
  • Nitroglycerine interacts with the blood vessels of arteries and veins to release a chemical called nitric oxide. This is a potent dilator of the blood vessel.
  • Nitroglycerine relaxes the muscular walls of veins, allowing them to store more blood and reduce the amount of blood returning to the heart.
  • Relaxation of arteries also can occur, especially at increased doses. This allows more blood to flow through arteries and can lower blood pressure.
  • Nitroglycerine 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: Nitrol ®(Savage), Nitro-bid® (Hoechst Marion Roussel) and various generic preparations
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Nitroglycerine

  • Nitroglycerine is primarily used to help treat the condition congestive heart failure in dogs and cats.
  • Nitroglycerine is used in conjunction with diuretics to treat fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary edema) caused by heart failure.
  • The drug is rarely used intravenously in animals to temporarily treat severe high blood pressure.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, nitroglycerine can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Nitroglycerine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Nitroglycerine should be avoided in animals with severe anemia, head trauma or suspected bleeding within the brain.
  • Caution must be used if nitroglycerine is given to patients with pre-existing low blood pressure as the pressure may fall further.
  • Since nitroglycerine is most often applied to the animals skin, a rash may appear at the site of application.
  • Nitroglycerine may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with nitroglycerine. Such drugs include drugs used to treat high blood pressure.
  • The most common adverse effect is low blood pressure. This can result in weakness and lethargy.
  • Reducing the dose typically resolves profound low blood pressure but intravenous fluids may be required.

    How Nitroglycerine Is Supplied

  • For use in animals, nitroglycerine is supplied as a 2 percent topical paste. The drug is absorbed through the skin and carried in the circulation to affect blood vessels.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • For dogs, nitroglycerine is applied to a hairless part of the body, typically within the ear. One-fourth to 1-1/2 inch strip of paste is applied every 8 to 12 hours.
  • For cats, 1/4 inch of nitroglycerine paste is applied every eight to 12 hours.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects.

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