Ursodiol For Dogs: Uses, Dosage, & Side Effects

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Ursodiol for dogs is a bile acid used to treat liver disease and dissolve or prevent gallstones. It is also known by the brand names Actigall and Urso. Ursodiol works by reducing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver, decreasing the amount of cholesterol absorbed by food, and increasing the rate at which cholesterol is broken down in the body. While it is not FDA approved for veterinary use, it is commonly prescribed by veterinarians for certain canine conditions. The main ingredient in ursodiol is ursodeoxycholic acid, which is a natural component of the bile that is normally produced by a dog’s body. For that reason, it is usually tolerated well, but some side effects can occur in dogs. If your veterinarian prescribes ursodiol for use in your dog, follow their instructions closely. Here is what you should know about the uses, dosage, and side effects of ursodiol in dogs.

Uses Of Ursodiol For Dogs

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Ursodiol for dogs is used to treat a variety of liver and gallbladder conditions. The liver and gallbladder are two organs that are highly affected by cholesterol, and the drug’s ability to reduce cholesterol in the body is beneficial to these organs. Cholesterol is sometimes a component of gallstones, and ursodiol can help prevent these stones from forming. Ursodiol also helps increase the flow of bile acid, which helps reduce toxic buildup of acid in the body. Here are several of the conditions that ursodiol might be prescribed to treat in dogs.

  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Gallstones
  • Congenital portosystemic shunts
  • Juvenile fibrosing liver disease

Dosage Of Ursodiol For Dogs

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The usual dosage of ursodiol for dogs is 2.5 to 7 mg per pound of body weight given orally twice a day. It should be given with food, as this increases absorption. Ursodiol is available in 300 mg capsules and 250 mg tablets. Your veterinarian will give you instructions on proper dosage. They may wish to adjust the dosage based on your dog’s condition and individual response to the drug. The duration of the prescription can vary, but you should continue to administer the drug to your dog until your veterinarian instructs you to stop, as ending treatment early could result in relapse.

Side Effects Of Ursodiol For Dogs

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The side effects of ursodiol in dogs are generally mild if they appear at all. The main ingredient in ursodiol naturally exists in dogs’ bile, so it is usually well-tolerated. There are, however, some side effects that may appear, and if these are cause for concern, you should contact your veterinarian, as they may wish to alter the dosage or seek an alternative form of treatment. Here are a few of the side effects of ursodiol in dogs.

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Worsening of liver disease

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Make sure your veterinarian is aware of any other medical conditions your dog has, as well as any other medications your dog takes, especially Tylenol, antacids, and vitamin supplements, as these may react poorly with ursodiol. As with all drugs, there is a risk of allergic reaction that could lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. If you see the signs of an allergic reaction, including hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, sneezing, or other symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.

Has your dog ever taken ursodiol? Did it help with their condition? Let us know in the comments below!