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Whether Cerenia can cause death in dogs is something dog owners may be concerned about. 

Whether your dog is suffering from serious adverse effects from this drug or you have heard about the risks of death as a result of using this drug (death is listed among this drug's adverse effects in the drug's information leaflet enclosed in each package), you may be wondering what are the chances this drug can cause death in dogs. 

Side effects of drugs can be scary especially when death is listed. Following is some in depth information about Cerenia for dogs, how this drug works and whether it's true that Cerenia can cause death in dogs.

Apoquel for dog allergies

Maropitant, Cerenia for Dogs 

Cerenia for dogs, also known by its generic name, maropitant citrate, is a medication made for veterinary use and therefore requires a prescription by a licensed veterinarian.

 The medication is indicated for dogs suffering from acute vomiting but also to prevent the onset of motion sickness in dogs.

Cerenia for dog vomiting may be dosed differently based on the dog's age.

 For dogs between 2 and 7 months, Cerenia may be given at a minimum dose of 0.9 mg for pound (2mg/kg) for up to 5 days in a row.

 In dogs over 7 months,, Cerenia is given at a minimum dose of 0.9 mg for pound (2mg/kg) until the acute vomiting resolves. According to DVM360, the latter instructions were updated recently from giving this drug for just a few days to giving it until the vomiting resolves.

While Cerenia may work to help dogs suffering from acute vomiting, Cerenia appears to be most effective in preventing vomiting by giving it prior to the onset of car sickness or for chemotherapy in cancer-stricken dogs.

 In cases of copious vomiting, where the dog is unable to hold food or water down, the vet may decide to use an injection of Cerenia.

Cerenia Can Cause Death in Dogs

It's often forgotten that vomiting, albeit annoying, plays a very important role which is ridding the body from harmful substances such as toxins, viruses and bacteria.

Now, Cerenia has been proven to offer superior efficacy in preventing and reducing vomiting in dogs.

 Indeed, in a couple of studies, even when dogs were administered products known to effectively cause vomiting in dogs such as apomorphine or syrup of ipecac, Cerenia was effective to such an extent as to being capable of inhibiting vomiting.

It's important to therefore understand that, when an effective product such as Cerenia is used to address vomiting in dogs, this drug does not treat the underlying cause of vomiting but rather masks the symptoms. 

This may cause dog owners to delay diagnostics and the institution of the most appropriate treatment.

It is best to therefore use Cerenia only after running standard tests and when some underlying important medical causes for a dog's vomiting have been ruled out.

 Cerenia may therefore mostly prove beneficial in cases of self-limiting vomiting when it's known why the dog is vomiting in the first place (result of chemo, car sicknesses, dietary indiscretion) and more serious underlying causes have been ruled out.

Failure to address certain underlying causes of vomiting in a timely manner may result in serious complications and even death. 

For instance, let's imagine a small dog who is vomiting due to an obstruction from ingesting pieces of plastic or a puppy that is vomiting from ingesting a toxic substance. 

Giving Cerenia to these dogs may temporarily stop the vomiting, while the plastic may lead to a case of peritonitis or the poison may get more and more absorbed. Both these scenarios may likely result in death.

" Maropitant and other antiemetics should not be used in patients suspected of toxin ingestion, as this may mask progression and allow more time for toxin absorption. In addition, the use of these antiemetics should be delayed until a clinical examination and abdominal radiographs have ruled out GI obstruction." ~Clinician's Brief

Cerenia Can Cause Death from Adverse Effects

Many dog owners are concerned about whether Cerenia can cause side effects or death in dogs, but not from underlying disease processes.

 These concerns are not unfounded, considering that the drug information leaflet lists several potential side effects some of which can be quite scary. However, any medication can cause side effects.

Namely, side effects of Cerenia for dogs include hypersalivation, drowsiness, diarrhea, bloody stools, and lack of appetite as the most common. 

Other Cerenia side effects in dogs include inflammation of the ear (3 dogs out of 206, 1.5 percent), endotoxic shock (2 dogs out of 206, 1 percent), blood in urine (2 dogs out of 206, 1 percent) excoriation, presence of erosion or ulceration caused by scratching, biting or rubbing ( 2 dogs out of 206, 1 percent).

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Whether your dog develops side effects from the Cerenia may vary based on several factors. For example, allergies to the drug is always a possibility. 

This drug should be used with caution in dogs with impaired liver function. Cerenia has not be evaluated whether it is safe to use in pregnant or nursing animals.

The risks for Cerenia side effects in dogs are increased when Cerenia is combined with other drugs such as phenobarbital (a medication to control seizures); chloramphenicol (an antibiotic); ketoconazole along with some other antifungal drugs, certain types of thyroid hormone supplements, behavioral medications and some cardiac drugs, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Make sure your vet knows whether your dog is on other medications while taking Cerenia. 

The leaflet contained in the Cerenia package also mentions death as a side effect which can be concerning. The drug information leaflet though fails going into more specific details as to the exact cause of death which may be insightful for concerned puppy and dog owners.

Did you know? Using Cerenia every day eventually risks depleting a dog's reserves of dopamine in their central nervous system leading to tremors (think Parkinson’s disease). According to veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Coates, giving Cerenia on a schedule of five days on–two days off, or every other day, helps prevents this side effect.

Study Reports Dogs Dying After Cerenia

The drug information leaflet for Cerenia lists death as an adverse reaction in a US field study evaluating dogs administered Cerenia. 

The leaflet mentions 10 dogs dying out of 206 receiving Cerenia, which is 4.9 percent. This can be a scary statistic for concerned dog owners. The leaflet also lists 2 dogs being euthanized during the study but there is no information as to why.

Interestingly though, the study also mentions 4 dogs dying during the study out of 69 (which is 5.8 percent) when given a placebo. This leads to us pondering whether dogs may just die during studies. Perhaps they are old, frail or overly stressed making them more vulnerable.

Update 2022: The Zoetis website has been updated with some reassuring details: "The deaths were believed to be due to the underlying disease or condition that caused the dog to vomit and not due to Cerenia™. At this time, there is no direct evidence that links these deaths with the use of Cerenia. "

Anecdotal Reports of Dogs Dying From Cerenia

Online, by simply googling "Cerenia killed my dog" it's easy to stumble upon several reports from dog owners witnessing death in their beloved dogs after being given Cerenia. 

As scary as these reports are, it is unclear what really causes these deaths. There are chances, the dog ate something toxic or was suffering from a severe underlying disorder.

On a More Positive Note 

Yet, despite several reports online of dogs mysteriously dying after receiving a Cerenia injection, many vets report that Cerenia is very safe.

 Veterinarian Dr. Edwards, for instance, states "Cerenia - Maropitant is actually very safe. ..I have never seen any side effects in using this drug for more than 4 years now."

 Countless dog owners also attest that Cerenia in their experience has been a god-send and it has literally saved their dog's lives.

In general when Cerenia is given correctly as prescribed, it is safe for dogs. However, all dogs are different and therefore they may react to drugs differently. Any difference in your dog’s normal disposition should be promptly reported to your vet.

Cerenia Can Cause Death in Dogs

Whether Cerenia can cause death in dogs in under debate.

What to Do if Cerenia Killed Your Dog

In the unfortunate case of death following administration of Cerenia, an autopsy may be helpful to ascertain whether your dog truly died as a result of this drug. 

The autopsy may reveal whether the drug may have been a culprit or whether there may have been underlying disease processes or toxic exposures at play.

If the dog had lab work prior to the administration of Cerenia which ruled out potential underlying disease processes of toxicities, then there are chances that the drug company may pay for the autopsy to determine whether an adverse reaction was possible.

If your dog has died as a result of Cerenia, you may wish to call the drug company to report the adverse outcome. 

You can contact Zoetis Inc at 1-888-963-8471. Get a copy of your dog's medical records and recall all the events that led to the death.

 You will be asked information pertaining your dog and the mishap. You can find the company's contact information usually on the drug's labels.

Upon receiving your complaint, the drug company will have to submit a report of adverse drug experience to the FDA. Adverse reactions can also be filed directly with the FDA using their form. Information on how to report an adverse reaction can be found here: Reporting Animal Drugs. 

References:

  • Sedlacek, HS, Ramsey, DS, Boucher, JF et al. Comparative efficacy of maropitant and selected drugs in preventing emesis induced by centrally or peripherally acting emetogens in dogs. J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2008; 31: 533–537
  • Efficacy of maropitant in preventing vomiting in dogs premedicated with hydromorphone, Bonnie L. Hay Krau, January 2013 Volume 40, Issue 1, Pages 28–34 Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia

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