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Overview of Hydrocodone for Dogs
- Hydrocodone, also known as Tussigon®, Hycodan®, Hydropane®, etc., is used primarily to treat excessive coughing due to collapsing trachea (windpipe), bronchitis or upper respiratory infections in dogs.
- Certain respiratory conditions in dogs are associated with severe or chronic coughing. These include tracheobronchitis (kennel cough), chronic bronchitis, tracheal (windpipe) collapse and bronchial compression. In many instances, the only effective therapy for these major airway irritations is a cough suppressant or antitussive drug.
- Hydrocodone is an opiate agonist (related to morphine) with profound cough-suppressant effects. Hydrocodone suppresses the cough reflex within the brain.
- Similar to other opiates, hydrocodone can also cause sedation.
- Hydrocodone is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
- This is a controlled drug, schedule class III, and is available only from a veterinarian with an active DEA license.
- 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 of Hydrocodone
- This drug is registered for use in humans only.
- Human formulations: Tussigon® (Daniels), Hycodan® (DuPont), Hydropane® (Halsey), Mycodone® (My-K), Codan® (Warner Chilcott), Hydrotropine® (Rugby), and various generics
- Veterinary formulations: None
Uses of Hydrocodone for Dogs
- Hydrocodone is used primarily to treat excessive coughing due to collapsing trachea (windpipe), bronchitis or upper respiratory infections (kennel cough).
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, hydrocodone can cause side effects in some animals.
- Hydrocodone should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- This drug should not be used in the setting of an active bacterial infection of the lung because cough is an essential reflex to rid the lung of infection. In viral infections, cough suppression can be done safely, but if the patient becomes ill or develops a fever or thick discharge from the nose, discontinue the drug and contact your veterinarian.
- Hydrocodone should be used cautiously in animals with low thyroid function, kidney disease or in severely ill patients.
- Hydrocodone should be avoided in animals with head injuries.
- Hydrocone should be avoided in animals with significant heart or lung disease, unless strictly supervised by a veterinarian.
- Hydrocodone may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with hydrocodone. Such drugs include antihistamines, barbiturates and tranquilizers.
- The most common adverse effects of hydrocodone include sedation, constipation and vomiting.
- Due to potential nervous-system effects, hydrocodone is not recommended in cats.
How Hydrocodone Is Supplied
- Hydrocodone is available in 5 mg tablets and a 5 mg/ml liquid.
- There are combination products that include acetaminophen (Vicodin). It is important these formulations NEVER be used in cats.
Dosing Information of Hydrocodone for Dogs
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
- In dogs, hydrocodone is dosed at 0.1 mg to 0.25 mg per pound (0.2 mg – 0.5 mg/kg) every 6 to 12 hours. This often ends up being at the recommended dose of 2.5 to 10 mg per dog two to four times daily.
- Hydrocodone is not recommended for use in cats.
- 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, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse or prevent the development of resistance.