Maropitant (Cerenia®) for Dogs

Stephanie Howe, DVM
By Stephanie Howe, DVM. Reviewed by Molly Price, DVM on May 6, 2024
golden dog with head out of car window after taking cerenia to help with motion sickness in dogs.

iStock/kosziv

In This Article

Overview

PetMD’s medications content was written and reviewed by veterinary professionals to answer your most common questions about how medications function, their side effects, and what species they are prescribed for. This content shouldn’t take the place of advice by your vet.

What Is Cerenia® for Dogs?

Maropitant (Cerenia®) is FDA-approved for use in dogs to help prevent and treat vomiting caused by motion sickness. Cerenia® is also used to treat acute nausea and vomiting in dogs and can alleviate nausea associated with chemotherapy. The injectable formulation of Cerenia® is FDA-approved for use in both dogs and cats for relief of vomiting, but at the time of this publication, the tablets had only been approved by the FDA for use in dogs.

Maropitant is available in oral tablet formulation, including the brand name Cerenia® and as generic maropitant. Veterinarians may prescribe the tablets as a treatment for vomiting in an extra-label manner. The term extra-label or off-label use means that a medication can be used in a way or in a particular species that is not specified on the medication label. While veterinarians often prescribe medications for extra-label uses, your veterinarian will determine whether this medication is right for your dog.

In certain circumstances, your vet may recommend a compounded formulation of maropitant. Compounded medications are prescribed if there’s a specific reason your pet’s health can’t be managed by an FDA-approved drug, such as if your pet has trouble taking pills in capsule form, the dosage strength is not commercially available, or the pet is allergic to an ingredient in the FDA-approved medication.

Compounded medications are not FDA-approved. They are created by either a veterinarian or a licensed pharmacist to best suit a patient’s particular needs. You can learn more about compounded medications here. Your veterinarian will determine whether a compounded medication is right for your

Cerenia® Considerations

Cerenia® should not be given to puppies less than 2 months of age for treatment of acute vomiting and should not be given to puppies less than 4 months of age for prevention of vomiting due to motion sickness. Cerenia® should be used with caution in pets with liver disease.

The safe use of injectable Cerenia® had not yet been tested in dogs or cats with toxin ingestion or gastrointestinal obstruction at the time of publication. The safe use of Cerenia® (maropitant) had not yet been tested in dogs or cats who are breeding, pregnant, or nursing at the time of publication.

Giving Cerenia® with certain medications can result in health risks to your pet, so it is important to discuss your pet’s medical conditions and medications, including vitamins and supplements, with your veterinarian.

How Cerenia® Works in Dogs

Cerenia® in dogs does not target the stomach to decrease nausea. It specifically targets the part of the brain (called the emetic center) that triggers vomiting. Due to this effect on the brain, Cerenia® is a potent drug that can treat and prevent vomiting from a wide variety of causes.

Cerenia® Directions for Dogs

Generally, to prevent vomiting associated with motion sickness in dogs, administer Cerenia® with a small amount of food at least two hours prior to traveling.

For other uses of this medication, please follow the directions on the drug label or as provided by your veterinarian.

Contact your veterinarian if your pet vomits while on this medication.

Missed a Dose?

Speak with your veterinarian about what to do if you forget to give a dose of Cerenia® (maropitant). Generally, they may advise you to give the dose when you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, your veterinarian may instruct you to skip the missed dose and resume your normal dosing schedule. In most cases, your veterinarian may instruct you to not give extra or double doses.

Possible Side Effects of Cerenia® in Dogs

Consult with your veterinarian or seek immediate veterinary medical attention if vomiting continues despite treatment with Cerenia®. Your veterinarian may want to reevaluate your pet to see if a more serious underlying condition is present.

In dogs, direct side effects from this medication are rare, but may include:

If you believe your pet may be experiencing any side effects of Cerenia®, consult your veterinarian.

Human Side Effects

Cerenia® (maropitant) is a prescription veterinary medication not intended for use in humans.

Due to possible side effects, humans should never use medicine dispensed for their pets and pets should not be given any medicine dispensed for a human’s use.

If you accidentally ingest a pet medication, immediately seek medical attention, or call the national Poison Control Center hotline at 800-222-1222.

Skin exposure to Cerenia® (maropitant) may cause localized skin reactions in some individuals. Repeated or prolonged exposure may lead to sensitive skin. Wash hands with soap and water after administering the medication and in case of accidental skin exposure.

Cerenia® (maropitant) is also an eye irritant. In case of accidental eye exposure, flush eyes with water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention.

Monitoring

No specific monitoring is required for this medication, but your veterinarian may recommend routine testing depending on your pet’s individual needs, other medications they may be on, and/or the issue that initially caused your pet to be placed on this medication.

Call Your Vet If:

  • Severe side effects are seen (see above)
  • Your pet’s condition worsens or does not improve with treatment
  • You see or suspect an overdose
  • You have additional questions or concerns about the use of Cerenia®

Cerenia® Overdose Information in Dogs

Symptoms of an overdose of Cerenia® may include weight loss, vomiting, soft stools, weakness, lethargy, excessive drooling, decreased heart rate, changes in electrolyte levels, and changes in your pet’s white blood cell count or their bone marrow.

If you suspect an overdose, immediately contact your veterinarian, seek emergency veterinary care, or contact an animal poison control center. Consultation fees often apply.

Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661

ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435

Cerenia® Storage for Dogs

Always confirm storage requirements by reading the prescription label.

Compounded medications should be stored according to the compounding pharmacy’s label.

Cerenia® tablets should be stored at controlled room temperatures between 68–77 F and brief exposure to temperatures of 59–86 F are acceptable.

Keep the tablets in the supplied blister packs until use to protect from moisture and light. Keep out of reach of children and pets.

FAQs:

How quickly does Cerenia® work for prevention of vomiting due to motion sickness?

In dogs 4 months and older, oral Cerenia® should reach its maximum efficiency at about two hours after ingestion. Administer Cerenia® a minimum of two hours prior to travel with a small amount of food to prevent stomach upset.

Does Cerenia® cause loss of appetite in dogs?

Most dogs will maintain a normal appetite while taking Cerenia®, but a loss of appetite is a possible known side effect.

Is Cerenia® safe for dogs?

Yes. Cerenia® can be used safely in dogs under very specific circumstances and only under direct supervision by their veterinarian.

What does Cerenia® treat in dogs?

Cerenia helps prevent and treat the vomiting caused by motion sickness. Cerenia® also treats nausea and acute vomiting in dogs due to many underlying causes, including chemotherapy.

What are the side effects of Cerenia® for dogs?

Cerenia® is well tolerated in most dogs, but uncommon side effects can include decreased energy level (lethargy), loss of appetite (anorexia), drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of balance (ataxia), and trembling.

No vet writer or qualified reviewer has received any compensation from the manufacturer of the medication as part of creating this article. All content contained in this article is sourced from public sources or the manufacturer.


Stephanie Howe, DVM

WRITTEN BY

Stephanie Howe, DVM

Veterinarian

Dr. Stephanie Howe graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011, after receiving a Bachelor of Science...


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