Maropitant Citrate for Dogs: Uses, Dosage, & Side Effects

Maropitant Citrate — known commercially as Cerenia® — for dogs is the first and only medication approved by the FDA to prevent vomiting due to motion sickness in canines. It belongs to a class of drugs called neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptor antagonists. As a potent antiemetic, the medication works by blocking the neurokinin receptors in the brain and gut, which are responsible for triggering the vomiting reflex. Maropitant citrate is available only through a prescription from a licensed veterinarian.

Here’s what you should know about maropitant citrate’s uses, dosage, and side effects for dogs.


Uses of maropitant citrate for dogs

Maropitant citrate is used to treat and prevent vomiting caused by motion sickness in dogs. Besides its primary use in preventing motion sickness, it is widely prescribed to manage and prevent acute vomiting arising from other causes, such as gastrointestinal disorders, toxins, or drug reactions. Moreover, veterinarians might use it to mitigate vomiting that may occur post-surgery or as a side effect of chemotherapy. It’s important to note that maropitant citrate does not cure the underlying cause of vomiting but instead works to control its symptoms, providing dogs with comfort and aiding in their recovery process.

Dosage of maropitant citrate for dogs

A Golden Retriever dog sitting in a car trunk, his young female owner giving him maropitant citrate or Cerenia for dogs before their journey.
(Photo Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial | Getty Images)

The following is a guideline for the typical use of the drug in dogs and must not replace your veterinarian’s advice for your individual pet.

The dosage of maropitant citrate for dogs is dependent on your pet’s weight and their condition under treatment. For acute vomiting, maropitant citrate tablets are usually given orally at a dosage of 0.9 mg/lb (2 mg/kg) once a day for up to five days. The tablets are scored, so they can be broken to adjust the dosage based on your dog’s weight.

To prevent vomiting due to motion sickness, a single dose of 3.6 mg/lb (8 mg/kg) should be given orally at least two hours before travel. You can give Cerenia® to dogs with or without food. However, administration with a small amount of food may help avoid vomiting. Ensure the pill isn’t wrapped too tightly in food because it might hinder the drug’s absorption process.

Maropitant citrate injections are also available and are typically administered by a licensed veterinarian. It is important to follow your vet’s instructions carefully regarding the dosage and administration of maropitant citrate.

Store Cerenia® tablets for dogs at controlled room temperatures ranging from 68-77°F, though brief exposure to temperatures between 59-86°F is permissible. To protect them from moisture and light, retain the tablets in the provided blister packs until you need them. For accurate storage guidelines, always make sure to check the information provided on the label.

Side effects of maropitant citrate for dogs

As with any medication, maropitant citrate may cause side effects in dogs. Potential side effects include:

These effects are typically mild and temporary, but if they persist or worsen, contact your veterinarian. In rare cases, more severe reactions can occur — such as allergic reactions — which may require immediate medical attention.

When considering maropitant citrate for your dog, it’s also vital to discuss potential drug interactions with your vet. Maropitant citrate should be used with caution in dogs with liver disease, as it is metabolized in the liver. The medication can interact with other drugs — including certain antibiotics and antifungal medications like chloramphenicol, erythromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, phenobarbital, and NSAIDs — possibly altering its effectiveness or increasing the risk of side effects.

Furthermore, the safety of maropitant citrate has not been fully established in dogs younger than 16 weeks, as well as in pregnant or nursing dogs. Ensure to provide your vet with a comprehensive medical history of your dog before starting treatment with the drug.

If you miss a dose of maropitant citrate — or Cerenia® — consult your vet for guidance. Typically, they might recommend giving the dose as soon as you remember. However, if the time for the next scheduled dose is near, they may advise you to skip the missed one and continue with your regular dosing regimen. It’s important to avoid giving extra or double doses to your pet.

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