Azathioprine for Dogs

Azathioprine for dogs is prescribed as an immunosuppressant. This drug is used to suppress the irregular cells produced by autoimmune diseases, those that cause the body to fight its own cells. While not approved by the FDA for use in dogs, azathioprine, also known as Imuran, is available through prescription by a veterinarian.

Side Effects of Azathioprine

It is important to use azathioprine according to directions as it can suppress production of necessary blood cells. Noted side effects are loss of appetite, resistance to movement, lethargy and fever and should be reported to the veterinarian immediately.

Diarrhea and vomiting may be present and should be reported to the treating veterinarian as they may indicate a drug-induced effect.

Approximately 10 percent of all dogs have a high sensitivity to azathioprine and should have blood drawn occasionally to check for numbers of blood cells.

Canine Diseases Commonly Treated by Azathioprine

  • Inflammatory bowel disease and other immune system disorders of the stomach and intestines
  • Certain skin diseases
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Chronic liver inflammation
  • Autoimmune diseases affecting the nerves and muscles
  • Arthritis caused by an autoimmune disease

Azathioprine, as with all prescription medication, should be used with care. While providing effective treatment, it does belong to a class of cancer fighting drugs and instructions should be followed exactly as given.