Esomeprazole (Nexium®) for Dogs and Cats
Esomeprazole, commonly known by the brand name Nexium®, is used in the treatment and prevention of stomach (gastric) and intestinal ulcers in humans as well as in dogs and cats. The drug inhibits the movement of hydrogen ions, which are constituents of hydrochloric stomach acid. In doing so, esomeprazole blocks the stomach from secreting acid and creates a more favorable stomach pH to encourage healing. It is considered effective for 24 hours.
Other drugs in the same class as Nexium include Omeprazole (sold under the brand name Prilosec®). Note the similarity between the two drugs’ names to avoid any confusion.
Is Esomeprazole Safe for Pets?
The 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.
Esomeprazole is available without a prescription in low-dose oral forms. You should only take Nexium with direction from your doctor and only administer it to your pet under the guidance of their veterinarian.
Nexium and other forms of esomeprazole are not safe for pets who are pregnant, nursing, lactating, or allergic to any of its ingredients. Pet parents should take special caution when administering Nexium to pets with liver disease as well.
Types of Esomeprazole
Esomeprazole is available in the following human-safe formulations:
- Esomeprazole Magnesium is supplied as Oral Delayed-Release Capsules in sizes of 20 mg and 40 mg.
- Esomeprazole Magnesium Powder for Oral Delayed-Release Suspension in 2.5, 5, 10, 20, and 40 mg packets.
- Esomeprazole Sodium is available for Injection: 20 & 40 mg.
There are formulations of Esomeprazole designed with pets in mind.
Uses of Nexium for Dogs and Cats
- Esomeprazole can be used in the treatment and prevention of stomach (gastric) and intestinal ulcers. The drug promotes ulcer healing in animals with ulcers or erosions (shallow depressions in the stomach lining).
- The drug may be useful in treating ulcers caused by ulcerogenic drugs such as steroids like prednisone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, and many more.
- Nexium is also useful for managing acid reflux disease. The drug reduces injury to the esophagus by discouraging the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus.
Esomeprazole Dosage for Dogs and Cats
Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian. Be sure to discuss proper dosage for your pet’s particular size, breed, and underlying health concerns.
Oral doses should be given on an empty stomach or at least one hour before eating. A typical esomeprazole dose for dogs and cats is 0.25 to 0.75 mg per pound (0.5 to 1.5 mg/kg) every 24 hours or once daily.
The duration of administration will depend on the condition you’re treating and your pet’s response to the medication. Be certain to complete the entire course of treatment unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, completing the treatment plan can help prevent a relapse or the development of resistance to Nexium in the future.
Precautions and Side Effects
While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, Esomeprazole can cause side effects in some animals. Adverse reactions include:
- Excessive gas
- Loss of Appetite
Esomeprazole may interact with other medications that your dog or cat is already taking. These include, but are not limited to:
If your pet takes any of these medications, consult with your veterinarian before beginning a course of esomeprazole treatments.
Preventing Unintended Exposure to Nexium
Prevention is always safer and simpler than treatment where your pet’s health is concerned. Take the following precautions to avoid an accidental overdose on drugs like Nexium:
- Never store pills, bottles, or carrying cases where pets can reach them. Avoid storing them in plastic bags or other containers that pet could easily chew through or otherwise open on their own.
- Close purses and bags closely to ensure paws and snouts can’t find their way inside.
- Ensure that guests and family members are familiar with your pet safety precautions.
Pet Health Emergency Resources
If your pet ingests a dangerous dose of Nexium and exhibits warning signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. Contact the Pet Poison Helpline or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center if you cannot get in touch with them. Keep in mind that incident fees may apply even for insured pet parents.