Esomeprazole for Dogs: Uses, Dosage, and Side Effects

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If you’ve ever experienced acid reflux, you know how uncomfortable it can be. That burning sensation that runs from deep in your chest up to your throat and often radiates out to cause sharp pain across your entire ribcage. But what you might not know is that your dog can also experience acid reflux.

In fact, when it comes to dogs, it even has a name – gastroesophageal reflux – and similar to the human version, it’s caused when stomach acids creep up into the esophagus. If left untreated, these powerful digestive enzymes can erode tissue and even cause ulcers. And that’s why it’s so important to recognize the signs and speak with your vet about an effective form of treatment. Adjusting your pet’s diet to eliminate high-fat foods and boosting his exercise regimen to deal with obesity are good starts. But for immediate relief, your vet will probably prescribe an effective medication such as Esomeprazole – which you probably know as NexIUM.

While NexIUM is a common solution to acid reflux in humans, its use in the field of veterinary medicine is relatively recent. And although it’s not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on animals, they do recognize it as an “extra-label” drug for veterinarians – which means it can be used on dogs and cats if specifically prescribed by your vet.

Esomeprazole works by blocking those nasty hydrochloric stomach acids that cause so much tissue damage. By blocking the acids, this medication also neutralizes the pH levels in your pet’s stomach. The effect lasts approximately 24 hours, which means your pooch will need to continue to take this medication over several days to allow the tissue damage to heal.

Now, while you can probably walk into your local drugstore and pick up a bottle of NexIUM, it is strongly recommended that you not administer this medication without first consulting with your veterinarian. They will need to run tests including an esophagoscopy that can determine the extent of the tissue damage and will likely control your best buddy’s diet for several days – which can include changing up his food formula or even withholding meals – as they get a handle on controlling the condition and plan a holistic course of action.

And while Esomeprazole may provide your pooch with quick relief, there are a few caveats that need to be observed. Based on your pet’s overall health, your vet will need to determine dosage amounts and decide if it’s the right medication for your pet. Dogs with known liver disease or that are under other medications may not be candidates for Esomeprazole. And for those that are pregnant or nursing, it’s not a recommended course of treatment. Even healthy animals may exhibit nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, or even disturbances to their central nervous system – meaning periodic monitoring by a vet is required.

But how do you even know that your dog is suffering from gastroesophageal reflux?  Watch for signs such as weight loss and lack of appetite. You may notice he suddenly has bad breath, vomits after meals, or seems to be burping or choking following his feeding. As it progresses, your pet may experience pain and whine after eating, become lethargic, or display excessive salivation. What’s important to know is that although it typically impacts younger dogs, it can strike at any age so never assume that because your pet is healthy, well-fed, and exercised regularly, that he can’t be impacted.


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