Cyclosporine for dogs, also known by the brand names Atopica and Optimmune, is an immunosuppressant drug primarily used to treat a condition called atopic dermatitis. This condition is not contagious, but it causes chronic inflammation of the skin due to an overactive immune system response. Cyclosporine suppresses the immune system in dogs, relieving symptoms of the condition. Although, it may also leave dogs more open to infection or neoplasia. The FDA approves it for veterinary use in canines, and you can only purchase it with a prescription.
If your veterinarian prescribes cyclosporine for your dog, follow their instructions closely and do not discontinue giving it to your dog until your veterinarian instructs you to do so. Here is what you should know about the uses, dosage, and side effects of cyclosporine in dogs.
Uses Of Cyclosporine For Dogs
While cyclosporine for dogs is primarily used to treat atopic dermatitis, it can also be prescribed for a variety of other conditions caused by an immune system response. The drug can also treat several immune mediated disorders, such as hemolytic anemia, perineal fistula, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca, and vets sometimes prescribe it after kidney or bone-marrow transplants to prevent the immune system from rejecting the new tissue.
Cyclosporine can provide an alternative to certain steroids, which have some troublesome side effects, especially with long-term use. In terms of effectiveness, cyclosporine helps about 70 percent of allergic dogs, and about half see a reduction in skin lesions and itching. The drug also treats asthma in felines, though it does not do the same for dogs.
Dosage Of Cyclosporine For Dogs
The usual dosage of cyclosporine for dogs is 1.5 to 3 mg per pound of body weight given twice a day at first. Then, veterinarians usually taper this off after about 30 days to a minimum dose that will still effectively prevent symptoms. Cyclosporine is available in 10 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg capsules. The capsules have an odor when the package is opened, and this is normal. The medication should be given orally with plenty of water at least two hours before or after eating. Veterinarians may prescribe the drug ketoconazole along with cyclosporine, which reduces the metabolism of cyclosporine and may, in turn, reduce the necessary dosage of the drug. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely.
Side Effects Of Cyclosporine For Dogs
Some side effects of cyclosporine occasionally appear in dogs. They most often relate to the digestive system. If you see concerning side effects in your dog, consult your veterinarian, as they may wish to alter the dosage or seek an alternative form of treatment. Here are some of the side effects you might see with cyclosporine in dogs.
- Loss of appetite
- Mucus in stool
- Otitis externa (commonly known as swimmer’s ear)
- Urinary tract infection
- Overgrown gums
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Bacterial or fungal infection (due to weakened immune system)
You should not give Cyclosporine to dogs who are under four pounds in weight or younger than six months in age. Tell your veterinarian about any other medications your dog is taking, as they may interact poorly with cyclosporine. Also, let your veterinarian know about any other medical conditions your dog suffers from, especially liver disease, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or infections, as these may be worsened by cyclosporine. As with almost all medications, there is a risk of allergic reaction that can lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. If you see the signs of an allergic reaction, including swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Has your dog ever taken cyclosporine? Did it help treat their condition? Let us know in the comments below!