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Risperidone (Risperidal®)

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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  • Behavioral disorders in dogs and cats are a common reason for veterinary visits. Unacceptable or dangerous animal behavior problems are also a common cause of euthanasia – an ultimate and often unnecessary solution.
  • Veterinarians have placed greater emphasis on behavioral training and behavior modification, and specialists working in the field of animal behavior have increasingly adopted drugs used in human behavioral medicine for animal use. Risperidone is one of these drugs.
  • Risperidone is a neuroleptic. Other neuroleptics include clozapine and olanzapine.
  • How risperidone works is not fully understood, but it is believed to block dopamine receptors and serotonin receptors.
  • Risperidone 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 (FDA) 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: Risperidal® (Janssen)
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Risperidone

  • Risperidone is used to treat a number of behavioral problems in dogs and sometimes cats, including aggression.
  • Risperidone may also be used for tail-chasing, compulsive circling, and fly-snapping.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • The veterinary use of risperidone has not been well established and for this reason it should be regarded as an experimental drug.
  • Risperidone should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • The drug should also be avoided or used with caution in animals in shock as it may cause low blood pressure.
  • Risperidone has been shown to affect heart rhythm.
  • The drug should be used with caution in patients with kidney disease and in elderly patients.
  • Risperidone may interact with other medications. Consult your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving might interact with risperidone. Such drugs include central nervous system depressants.

    How Risperidone is Supplied

  • Risperidone is available as 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg, and 4 mg tablets.
  • It is also available as 1 mg per mL solution in 30 mL bottles with a calibrated pipette.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • A specific dose rate of risperidone has not been established for any domestic species.
  • 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.

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