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 Mycophenolate for Dogs?
Mycophenolate is a prescription immunosuppressive medication used in people to prevent organ transplant rejection. In dogs, mycophenolate is used to treat autoimmune conditions such as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), immune mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), glomerulonephritis, myasthenia gravis, meningoencephalitis, and pemphigus foliaceus. Mycophenolate may be used as a sole medication but is more commonly used in combination with other immunosuppressive medications.
Mycophenolate is FDA-approved for human use in various oral forms (capsule, tablet, oral suspension) under the brand names CellCept®, Myfortic™, and as generic mycophenolate mofetil, or MMF. Mycophenolate is also given to animals by intravenous infusion for certain medical conditions, under direct veterinary supervision in a hospital setting.
Mycophenolate is currently not FDA-approved as a veterinary medication. However, it is readily utilized in the veterinary field, and veterinarians can legally prescribe certain human drugs in animals in certain circumstances. This is called extra-label or off-label use because this use isn’t described on the drug label.
In certain circumstances, your vet may recommend a compounded formulation of mycophenolate. 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 on an individual basis to best suit a patient’s particular needs. You can learn more about compounded medications here.
Mycophenolate Considerations for Dogs
Mycophenolate should not be used in pets with certain medical conditions, such as severe kidney disease, or in pets who are hypersensitive to it. Mycophenolate should be used with caution in pets with inflammatory bowel disease.
Mycophenolate can cause birth defects and fetal death in pregnant women, so it should not be used in breeding, pregnant, or lactating pets. Giving mycophenolate with certain medications can result in health risks to your pet, so it is important to discuss your pet’s medications, including vitamins and supplements, and medical conditions with your veterinarian.
How Mycophenolate Works in Dogs
Mycophenolate is classified as an immunosuppressive medication. Mycophenolate inhibits the actions of certain white blood cells (T cells and B cells) involved in the body’s immune response.
It helps prevent organ transplant rejection by blunting the immune system’s ability to attack the transplanted organ tissue. Mycophenolate also helps decrease inflammation in medical conditions when the immune system is inappropriately overreactive.
Mycophenolate Directions for Dogs
Follow the directions on the drug label or as provided by your veterinarian.
Mycophenolate is best given on an empty stomach.
Do not use mycophenolate in breeding, pregnant, or lactating pets or in cats, as safety and efficacy studies have not been performed at this time.
Missed a Dose?
Speak with your veterinarian about what to do if you forget to give a dose of mycophenolate. Generally, they may instruct you to give it when you remember, or if it is almost time for your pet’s next dose, to skip the missed dose and resume your normal dosing schedule. Do not give extra or double doses.
Mycophenolate Possible Side Effects in Dogs
Side effects of mycophenolate may include:
Gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite)
Low energy (lethargy)
Low numbers of certain white blood cells (lymphopenia)
Warts/growths associated with papilloma virus (papillomatosis)
Hypersensitivity reactions (after intravenous use)
Increased risk of internal infection and cancer (with long-term use)
Human Side Effects
Mycophenolate is also a prescription medication for humans, frequently with dosages different from those prescribed for your pet by a veterinarian. 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.
In humans, mycophenolate can cause birth defects and fetal death. If you are pregnant, talk to your veterinarian about using another medication, or ensure that you do not ingest mycophenolate. Wear disposable gloves at all times while in contact with this medication and wash your hands after handling.
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 mycophenolate
Mycophenolate Overdose Information in Dogs
An overdose of mycophenolate may cause severe gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite) resulting in dehydration, requiring immediate medical attention.
If you suspect an overdose, immediately contact your veterinarian, seek emergency veterinary care, or call an animal poison control center. Consultation fees often apply.
Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661
ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435
Mycophenolate Storage for Dogs
Always confirm storage requirements by reading the prescription label.
Mycophenolate should be stored at controlled temperatures from 68 F to 77 F.
Keep the container tightly closed to protect the medication from moisture and light.
Keep out of reach of children and pets.
Mycophenolate for Dogs FAQs
What are the side effects of mycophenolate in dogs?
The most common side effect of mycophenolate in dogs is gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite). Less commonly, side effects may include low energy (lethargy), low numbers of certain white blood cells (lymphopenia), growths associated with papilloma virus (papillomatosis), and skin infections.
Hypersensitivity reactions may occur after intravenous use. Long-term use may increase the risk of internal infection and cancer.
What is mycophenolate used for in dogs?
Mycophenolate is used to treat autoimmune conditions such as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), glomerulonephritis, myasthenia gravis, meningoencephalitis, and pemphigus foliaceus.
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.
Featured Image: SeventyFour/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Wang A, Smith JR, Creevy KE. Treatment of canine idiopathic immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia with mycophenolate mofetil and glucocorticoids: 30 cases (2007 to 2011). Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2013;54(8):399-404.
Cummings FO, Rizzo SA. Treatment of presumptive primary immune-mediated thrombocytopenia with mycophenolate mofetil versus cyclosporine in dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2017;58(2):96-102.
Barnoon I, Shamir MH, Aroch I, et al. Retrospective evaluation of combined mycophenolate mofetil and prednisone treatment for meningoencephalomyelitis of unknown etiology in dogs: 25 cases (2005-2011). Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. 2016;26(1):116-124.
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