Famotidine (Pepcid®) for Dogs and Cats

Pepcid spills on a wooden tablePepcid spills on a wooden table
Pepcid spills on a wooden tablePepcid spills on a wooden table

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Famotidine?
  2. Brand Names for Famotidine
  3. Is Pepcid Routinely Prescribed to Pets?
  4. Uses for Famotidine for Dogs and Cats
  5. How is Famotidine Supplied? 
  6. Pepcid Dosage for Dogs and Cats
  7. What Should I Do if My Dog or Cat Swallows My Pepcid?
  8. Potential Side Effects of Pepcid for Dogs and Cats
  9. How to Prevent Unintended Pepcid Exposure
  10. More Pet Emergency Resources
  11. Drug Library for Pets

Famotidine is the generic name for a drug commonly used in humans to treat excessive stomach acid production, esophagitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is currently one of the most commonly-prescribed drugs in the United States and is available as both a prescription drug and as an over-the counter drug. It is most commonly known by the brand names Pepcid and Pepcid AC.

What is Famotidine (Pepcid)?

  • Famotidine, commonly known by the brand name Pepcid or Pepcid AC, is one of the most common over-the-counter medications used in dogs and cats.
  • Famotidine is an anti-ulcer drug of the histamine receptor-2 (H-2) blocker class. Stimulation of H-2 receptors (targets) located on the cell membranes of stomach cells leads to secretion of gastric acid. The drug slows stomach acid production, allowing the ulcer time to heal.
  • Famotidine and other H-2 blockers are useful in the treatment and prevention of gastric (stomach) and intestinal ulcers because they prevent activation of this cell receptor. Other drugs with similar actions include ranitidine (Zantac®), nizatidine (Axid®) and cimetidine (Tagamet®).

Brand Names for Famotidine

Is Pepcid Routinely Prescribed to Pets?

This drug is not FDA approved for use in animals, but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug. Famotidine is available over the counter but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.

Pepcid® is commonly prescribed to both dogs and cats. Pepcid is in a class of drugs referred to as “H2 blockers” and related to medications such as cimetidine (Tagamet®) and ranitidine (Zantac®).

Pepcid is prescribed to treat pets with stomach ulcers, esophagitis, gastric reflux, and esophageal reflux. It can also be used in dogs and cats with Helicobacter infections.

Uses of Famotidine for Dogs and Cats

Famotidine has a number of purposes for humans, dogs, and cats:

  • Famotidine is used in the treatment and prevention of stomach (gastric) and intestinal ulcers.
  • Famotidine promotes ulcer healing in people and animals with ulcers or erosions (shallow depressions in the stomach lining).
  • Famotidine may be useful in the treatment of stomach inflammation caused by kidney failure.
  • Drugs like Pepcid are used to manage acid-reflux disease, a condition similar to “heartburn” in people and caused by movement of stomach acid into the lower part of the esophagus. It can help to reduce injury to the esophagus (food tube).
  • Dogs and cats with mast cell tumors may be treated with famotidine or a related drug because these tumors can produce large amounts of histamine.

How is Famotidine Supplied?

  • Famotidine is supplied in 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg tablets.
  • Famotidine oral powder for suspension is supplied at 50 mg/5 ml.

Pepcid Dosage for Dogs and Cats

Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian. Make sure to discuss proper dosage and other precautions with your veterinarian before using Pepcid for cats or dogs. The typical dose of famotidine administered is 0.25 to 0.5 mg per pound (0.5 to 1.0 mg/kg) every 12 to 24 hours.

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, complete the entire treatment plan to avoid a sudden relapse.

What Should I Do If My Dog or Cat Swallows My Pepcid?

In general, famotidine is not considered highly toxic to dogs or cats. Toxicity is only a concern if large amounts are ingested (i.e. many pills in a small cat or dog). Oral doses over 2 grams per kilogram body weight (1000 mg per pound) can cause death. The most common pill size is 10 mg. This means a 10-pound pet would need to ingest 100 pills to cause severe toxicity and possibly death.

Potential Side Effects of Pepcid for Dogs and Cats

Call your vet if you are concerned about your pet ingesting a toxic dose of medication and if you observe any of the following side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty walking
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Vomiting

Make sure to monitor your pet closely and observe their behavior, urination, and bowel movements to ensure they are not suffering any of these symptoms. Contact you veterinarian immediately if you believe you pet has ingested a potentially-toxic dose of famotidine.

How to Prevent Unintended Pepcid Exposure

Curious cats and dogs are good at getting into things, and it’s always better to prevent poisoning than to treat it after the face. Take these precautions to keep your pets from unwittingly ingesting a dangerous amount of famotidine:

  • Store all medications out of the reach of pets.
  • Take extra special care with pill bottles and weekly pill holders. The shape of the containers and the sounds they make when shaken can mimic toys, tempting some pets into playing with them or chewing on them.
  • Avoid using plastic bags to store pills. If you are traveling with medications, keep them in your purse or pocket. Bags can be easily chewed through and ingested.
  • Make sure you close your purse, hang it up, or secure it in an area that is inaccessible to your pet.
  • Encourage house guests to keep their belongings closed and medications secure from your pets.

More Pet Emergency Resources

If your pet ingests Pepcid and you can’t get in touch with your vet, call your closest emergency clinic. Another option is to call a poison control hotline for pets. The two most common are:

Drug Library for Pets

Want to learn more about safely administering medication to your dogs and cats? Check out PetPlace’s Drug Library.

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