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Ursodiol for Dogs and Cats

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General Drug Information and Indications

Ursodiol is a bile acid that is used in dogs and cats that have liver disease, particularly the types of liver disease caused by bile toxicity. It is also used to manage gallstones that contain cholesterol. Ursodiol decreases the amount of cholesterol made by the liver and the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the intestines.

Like many other drugs in veterinary medicine, this drug is not FDA approved for use in animals and is not available from a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer. Instead, it is compounded by a specialty pharmacy.

How to Give this Medication

Give this medication to your pet exactly as your veterinarian prescribes. If you miss giving your pet a dose of ursodiol, give the next dose as soon as you remember or, if it is close to the next scheduled dose, return to the regular schedule. Do not double dose to catch up.

Give ursodiol with oil or in a fatty meal.

Wash your hands after giving your pet this medication.

Side Effects

Be sure to discuss any side effects with your veterinarian immediately.

Ursodiol is generally well-tolerated. The most common side effects are vomiting or diarrhea. There have been rare cases when ursodiol may have made the underlying liver problem worse.

Precautions

Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children. Ursodiol is a prescription drug and should be used according to your veterinarian's directions. It should only be given to the animal for which it was prescribed. Do not give this medication to a person.

Ursodiol should not be used in animals with gallstones or pancreatitis.

Drug Interactions

Be sure to review with your veterinarian any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving.

Aluminum containing antacids and cholestyramine resin may reduce the effectiveness of ursodiol. Tell your vet if your pet is taking either of these medicines.

Overdose

If you suspect your pet or another animal was overdosed accidentally or has eaten this medication inadvertently, contact your veterinarian or the A.S.P.C.A.'s Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435. Always bring the prescription container with you when you take your pet for treatment.

If you or someone else has accidentally ingested this medication call the National Capital Poison Center at 800.222.1222.

Storage

Different strengths or dosage forms of ursodiol may have different storage requirements. Read the labeling or ask your pharmacist for the storage requirements of the prescription you receive.

About the Author

Dr. Barbara Forney

Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.

She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.

Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.