Overview of Clonidine (Catpress) for Canines and Felines
- Clonidine, commonly known as Catpress® or Duraclon®, belongs to a class of drugs known as central alpha 2 adrenergic agonists and is similar to xylazine. It is a sedative that can also provide pain relief as well as muscle relaxation to dogs. It is also used to treat inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats and behavioral disorders in dogs.
- Please NOTE: There is a drug on the market with a similar name that has caused confusion and errors. Please don’t confuse Clonidine with Klonipin® (clonazepam).
- In humans, Clonidine is used to treat a variety of medical problems including high blood pressure, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), anxiety, withdrawal from smoking, alcohol or drugs, as well as other uses.
- Clonidine works by stimulating alpha-adrenoreceptors in the brain that impacts the central nervous system, blood vessels, heart rate and blood pressure. It also works to provide pain relief to the spinal cord with epidural use.
- Clonidine is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
Brand Names or Other Names Clonidine
- Human formulations:
- Clonidine HCl Injection for epidural use: Duraclon®
- Oral tablets Catapres®
- Clonidine HCl Oral Modified-release (12-hour for humans) Kapvay®
- Clonidine HCl Transdermal: Catapres-TTS®
- Veterinary formulations:
Uses of Clonidine for Dogs and Cats
- Clonidine is used with other treatments for canine behavioral conditions such as fears, phobias, and aggression. For more information on behavioral problems in dogs, please read Thunder and Fear Induced Dog Anxiety and Separation Anxiety in Dogs.
- Clonidine is used in addition to other therapies to treat refractory inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs and cats.
- The injectable form of Clonidine is used as an epidural injection to treat pain.
- Clonidine can also be used to diagnose growth hormone deficiency and pheochromocytoma in dogs.
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, Clonidine can cause side effects in some animals.
- Clonidine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- Extreme caution must be used if clonidine is given to animals with heart disease, low blood pressure, shock, breathing problems, severe liver or kidney disease, a known seizure disorder, or if the animal is severely debilitated. Clonidine is not recommended in animals receiving epinephrine or those with heart arrhythmias.
- Clonidine is not recommended for use in breeding, nursing or pregnant pets.
- Clonidine may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with clonidine. Such drugs include epinephrine, certain narcotics, barbiturates, prazosin, prochlorperazine, acepromazine, drugs to treat blood pressure, heart medications including propranolol, digoxin, amitriptyline, and clomipramine.
- Adverse effects of Clonidine include vomiting, constipation, sedation, collapse, low blood pressure, aggressive behavior and slow heart rates. There can also be a temporary high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
- Signs of overdose or toxicity may include low blood pressure, low heart rates, vomiting, lethargy and weakness. Please call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog ingested an overdose of Clonidine.
How Clonidine is Supplied
- Clonidine is available in oral tablets, oral modified-released tablets, transdermal and as an injection for epidural use.
- Clonidine HCl Oral Tablets: 0.1 mg, 0.2 mg & 0.3 mg
- Clonidine HCl Oral Modified-released Tablets: 0.1 mg
- Clonidine HCl Transdermal: 0.1 mg/24hrs, 0.2 mg/24hrs, and 0.3 mg/24hrs
Dosing Information of Clonidine for Dogs and Cats
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting with your veterinarian.
- Clonidine may be given with food or without food. Clonidine tablets should be stored away from light in moisture such as in the sealable light-resistant container.
- In dogs, the dose used to treat behavioral issues is as follows: Clonidine is dosed at 0.005 to 0.02 per pound (0.01 to 0.05 mg/kg) orally. For example, a 22-pound dog may be given a total dose of 0.1 mg tablet.
- When beginning Clonidine for behavioral issues, a lower dose is generally started which can be gradually increased. The lowest possible effective dose is recommended to address the primary problem and minimize the risk of side effects. Clonidine is most effective when used with other behavioral modification methods. It is recommended to give Clonidine 90 minutes to 2 hours before the expected anxiety-inducing event.
- In dogs, the dose used to treat inflammatory bowel disease: Clonidine is dosed at 2.2 to 4.5 micrograms per pound (5 to 10 micrograms/kg) orally every 8 to 12 hours.
- In cats, the dose used to treat inflammatory bowel disease: Clonidine is dosed at 2.2 to 4.5 micrograms per pound (5 to 10 micrograms/kg) orally every 8 to 12 hours. This is often used as a last resort after other more commonly recommended medications have been used and failed.
- 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.
Additional Articles that May Be Helpful:
- Is Your Dog Suffering from Anxiety?
- Most Common Behavioral Problems in Dogs
- Thunder and Fear Induced Dog Anxiety
- Separation Anxiety in Dogs
- How do we Deal with Separation Anxiety in our Dog?
- Using Trazodone to Treat Dogs with Anxiety
- Anxiety in Dogs: Is It Over-Diagnosed? The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out
Resources & References:
- Adams H. Adrenergic agonists and antagonists. In: Reviere J, Papich M, eds. Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 9th ed. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell; 2009.
- ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline.
- Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. Catapres (clonidine) tablet package insert.
- Current Veterinary Therapy XV, Bonagura and Twedt.
- Long KM, Kirby R. An update on cardiovascular adrenergic receptor physiology and potential pharmacological applications in veterinary critical care. Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care 2008.
- Murrell JC, Hellebrekers LJ. Medetomidine and dexmedetomidine: a review of cardiovascular effects and antinociceptive properties in the dog. Vet Anaesth Analg 2005.
- Ogata N, Dodman NH. The use of clonidine in the treatment of fear-based behavior problems in dogs: An open trial. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2011.
- Pet Poison Helpline.
- Plumb’s Veterinary Handbook by Donald C. Plumb, 9th Edition.
- Textbook of Veterinary Internal