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Oxytocin

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Overview

  • Oxytocin is a hormone naturally produced in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This hormone is especially important in reproduction.
  • Oxytocin increases the ability of sodium molecules to pass into the muscles of the uterus. This effect causes the uterus to contract. In birth, this helps to move the fetus into the birth canal.
  • Oxytocin administration can also lead to the release of milk from the breasts.
  • Oxytocin is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans and animals.
  • Human formulations: Pitocin® (Park-Davis), Syntocinon® (Sandoz) and various generic preparations
  • Veterinary formulations: Various generic preparations

    Uses of Oxytocin

  • The primary use of oxytocin is to induce labor in animals having weak or no contractions. The drug enhances uterine contractions at the time of fetal delivery.
  • Oxytocin is also used medically to expel any residual placental material that might be left in the uterus. This may prevent the subsequent development of metritis.
  • Oxytocin helps to stimulate milk release after delivery.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, oxytocin can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Oxytocin should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Oxytocin may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with oxytocin.
  • Oxytocin should not be used if the fetus is in an abnormal position or is too large to pass through the birth canal.
  • Oxytocin should only be used if the cervix is dilated.
  • Oxytocin should not be used if an animal has uncorrected low blood sugar or untreated low blood calcium.
  • If inappropriately used, oxytocin can cause uterine rupture or pain from excessive uterine cramping.

    How Oxytocin Is Supplied

  • Oxytocin is typically available in injectable form and comes in 20 units/ml bottles. It is also available in 10 units/ml ampules and multi-dose vials.
  • Oxytocin is also available as a 40 units/ml nasal spray. This form of oxytocin is not for use to stimulate uterine contractions and should not be used for that purpose.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • There is a wide dose range for oxytocin, depending on the stage of labor.
  • Typically, oxytocin is given to dogs and cats at a dose of 2 to 20 units intravenous or intramuscular. At least 30 minutes should elapse before giving another dose.
  • 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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