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Heartburn is a common ailment in humans, but did you know your dog can also suffer from the same thing? Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, and chronically as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), is a common condition that affects dogs and humans. While dogs don't get heartburn from eating spicy foods like humans do, other factors can cause excess stomach acid and cause your dog to feel uncomfortable.
Before you share the antacid in your medicine cabinet with your canine friend, you should know that there is a dog-safe, vet-prescribed medication that can help your dog get back to feeling like their playful self.
In this post, we’ll go over omeprazole, what it is, why vets prescribe it, and if it might be right for your dog, with a prescription from a veterinarian.
What is Omeprazole?
First thing first, what is omeprazole? Omeprazole is the generic name for a prescription proton pump inhibitor, commonly known as GastroGuard or UltraGuard for horses and Prilosec for humans. There is not a specific brand of omeprazole on the market for dogs, so vets typically prescribe generic omeprazole.1
Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor. Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, reduce the production of stomach acid, providing relief from uncomfortable symptoms and preventing further damage to the esophagus.2
Omeprazole for Dogs
When is omeprazole used in dogs? And what are the side effects of this prescription? Let’s take a look.
Omeprazole provides relief and comfort to our four-legged friends. The most common use for omeprazole in dogs is for heartburn or other acid reflux disorders like GERD, stomach ulcers, and damage to the esophagus.3
When a human has a bout of GERD, they usually list heartburn as the primary symptom. As much as we wish our dogs could talk, they aren’t able to verbally voice their issues or discomfort, so it’s up to pet parents to keep an eye out for our dogs’ symptoms of GERD.
GERD symptoms may include:
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty swallowing
- Licking their lips
- A change in their bark
- Chronic cough
- Looking generally uncomfortable
- Pacing or restlessness at night
In extreme cases, dogs suffering from GERD may lose weight. Monitoring your dog’s symptoms and behaviors will help your veterinarian determine possible causes for your dog’s illness.
Consider a Dutch telehealth appointment if your dog shows signs of acid reflux. It’s easy to schedule a time to speak with one of our licensed veterinarians.
We’ve established that dogs can have omeprazole; now, let’s look at the omeprazole for dogs dosage. Like humans, giving our dog friends the correct amount of medicine is vital. An omeprazole dose for dogs depends on various factors that your vet will consider: the issue your dog is having, the dog’s weight, and any other medical problems or medications. A typical dose is 0.25 to 0.5 mg per pound, usually every 24 hours. Some dogs improve after 24 to 48 hours on omeprazole, while other dogs may take four to five days to see improvement.4
Generally, medication can be used for all dogs, but there are a few instances when certain dogs and drugs don’t mix. Your veterinarian will determine if omeprazole is the right medication for your dog based on their health and symptoms, and when, how, and how much to give your pet. It is vital to always follow the veterinarian’s directions when administering medication to your dog. Never change the dosage without consulting a veterinary professional. Omeprazole comes in tablet, capsule, and liquid form. Your vet will prescribe the best option for your dog.
Side effects are rare for dogs taking omeprazole, but they can happen. For the most part, the side effects can be safely managed at home as long as your dog is comfortable and their symptoms don’t continue to get worse over time.
The most common side effects of omeprazole are: 5
- Loss of appetite: A loss of appetite is characterized by your dog showing little to no interest in food when they usually have a normal and healthy desire to eat.
- Vomiting: Vomiting is a self-explanatory side effect. If your dog has continuous vomiting, keeping your dog hydrated is vital so they don’t get dehydrated. If the vomiting is severe, your vet may prescribe an anti-vomiting medicine.
- Gas: You'll know if your dog has gas because you smell it. If your dog has bad gas, it may also have a bloated belly and vomiting.
- Diarrhea: This is the most common side effect of omeprazole. Most causes of diarrhea resolve on their own in a day or two, but there are things you can do to help ease your dog’s discomfort. Ensure your dog has plenty of water, and put them on a bland diet that includes something easy to digest, like boiled chicken or plain white rice.
If your dog’s symptoms worsen, contact your veterinarian.
Omeprazole is generally a safe and common medication to give dogs. However, it is imperative that you only give your dog medication that is prescribed by a licensed veterinarian.
An omeprazole overdose is rare, but it can happen. The signs of overdose are similar to the side effects of the drug: loss of appetite, vomiting, gas, and diarrhea. Therefore it is crucial to keep track of any side effects or symptoms your dog may have from Omeprazole and contact your vet for further treatment.5
Alternatives to Omeprazole for Dogs
Omeprazole is a very effective treatment, but it may not work for all dogs. If your dog has a negative reaction to omeprazole, or their symptoms do not improve while taking omeprazole, you can ask your vet for alternatives to omeprazole for dogs. Let’s review some other options for omeprazole and if they may be a good fit for your dog:6
- Esomeprazole is a close relative of omeprazole and a good alternative. Similar to omeprazole, Esomeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor. It can have similar side effects as omeprazole, but some vets have found it more effective for treating severe acid reflux or stomach ulcers.
- Sucralfate is another alternative to omeprazole for dogs. Sucralfate is not a proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole and esomeprazole; it is a gastroprotectant. So, instead of stopping stomach acid from forming, sucralfate forms a protective layer in the stomach and intestines to heal. Sucralfate is a great option for healing stomach ulcers since it adheres to the ulcer and protects it from acid or other trauma; however, it is not as effective for treating issues like acid reflux.
If you are still determining if your dog would benefit from omeprazole or one of the safe alternatives, schedule an appointment with Dutch.com and speak to a qualified veterinarian. You can make a virtual appointment for a time that works for you and your pup in your home.
Why did my vet prescribe omeprazole?
Your vet most likely prescribed omeprazole for your dog because of issues related to excess stomach acid, such as acid reflux or a stomach ulcer. If your dog has one or more of the issues discussed above, your dog will likely be experiencing discomfort, a loss of appetite, and may have excessive coughing, and pacing at night. Omeprazole can help relieve their symptoms and restore your dog to their loving, playful self.
What is the biggest side effect of omeprazole in dogs?
Side effects are rare for dogs on omeprazole, but the most common are loss of appetite, vomiting, gas, and diarrhea. Diarrhea is the most common side effect of omeprazole. The side effects are usually minor and last for 24 hours. Contact your vet if your dog’s symptoms worsen or last longer than a day.
What time of day should I give my dog omeprazole?
Your vet will instruct you when and how to give your dog omeprazole. Generally, veterinarians recommend giving omeprazole on an empty stomach, so the morning before breakfast is usually a good time.
Our four-legged canine friends can suffer from heartburn just like us, and luckily, there is a safe and effective medication to help their symptoms. Omeprazole is a generic proton pump inhibitor, similar to what humans take, that can be prescribed by a qualified and licensed vet. While some side effects are associated with the drug, omeprazole for dogs is a good option for pups suffering from GERD and other related conditions. If your dog cannot take omeprazole, your vet can provide alternatives.
When you use Dutch, you can speak to a licensed vet about omeprazole for dogs or any other issue. And with Dutch, you can get your pet’s medicine delivered to your doorstep. Contact us today to get personalized treatment from a qualified vet.
“Omeprazole: Medlineplus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, www.medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a693050.html. Accessed 25 July 2023.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) - Statpearls - NCBI Bookshelf, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557385/. Accessed 25 July 2023.
“Omeprazole (RX).” Dutch, www.dutch.com/products/omeprazole-rx. Accessed 25 July 2023.
Ruben, Dr. Dawn. “Omeprazole (Prilosec®, Gastrogard®) for Dogs and Cats.” PetPlace, www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/drug-library/library/omeprazole-prilosec-gastrogard-for-dogs-and-cats
“Omeprazole (GastroGard® Ulcergard®).” PetMD, www.petmd.com/pet-medication/omeprazole-gastrogard-ulcergard. Accessed 25 July 2023.