Hydrocodone Side Effects in Dogs

Hydrocodone side effects can be quite serious and this is why this drug can only be obtained through prescription from a licensed veterinarian. Hydrocodone is an opiate which acts directly on the brain inhibiting the coughing reflex. Opiates (narcotics) have been used by medicine for effects different from the notorious euphoria they cause. Opiates can be used against diarrhea, as analgesics, for cardiovascular conditions or as cough suppressants. Hydrocodone has been mainly created to suppress cough. Its cough suppressing effect is strengthened by the addition of homatropine, a substance which will also cause side effects if the drug is being taken for a longer time

Using Hydrocodone for Dogs

Hydrocodone is used in dogs with dry or minimally productive cough, the coughs that sound as if something is stuck in the throat. It is prescribed for conditions in which minor secretions or tissue are pressing on the airways, casing reflex coughing:

  • Collapsing trachea (the windpipe becomes less firm)
  • Heart enlargement (the heart enlarges and it presses on the airways)
  • Old age bronchitis
  • Kennel cough (minor infection which, left untreated, leads to bronchitis)

Hydrocodone Side Effects in Dogs

Hydrocodone is a controlled drug. While administering it to your pet, you should be careful about possible symptoms of discomfort and immediately notify the veterinarian.

The most common side effects of hydrocodone are:

  • Sedation and drowsiness
  • Dry nose and mouth
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting and upset stomach
  • Thick discharge from the nose
  • Elevated fever, if this sign appears, discontinue administering hydrocodone and contact a specialist

Precautions with Hydrocodone in Dogs

Hydrocodone interacts with other medications such as antihistamines, barbiturates and tranquilizers.

Animals with heart or lung disease need to be closely monitored by a specialist while under hydrocodone treatment.

Other possible precautions include:

  • Hydrocodone is of high risk for dogs with hypothyroidism
  • Kidney disease can be aggravated by hydrocodone
  • Animals with head injuries should not be given hydrocodone
  • If your dog has pneumonia, using hydrocodone is not appropriate. In this case the cough is the body's way of getting rid of the pus and the bacteria provoking it. If the body is deprived of its natural defense against infection, your dog is in even higher danger.
  • If your dog has toxic diarrhea (as in parvovirus infection) he should not be given hydrocodone. Even though the drug will improve the consistency of the stool by improving water absorption, it also facilitates the absorption of toxins.

Administering Hydrocodone to Dogs

Hydrocodone is usually given 2 to 4 times a day, as needed. Its effect can last from 6 to 12 hours.

If your dog is undergoing hydrocodone treatment, you should keep an eye on him for strange side effects.

Even if the dog's state is improving visibly, you should not discontinue treatment earlier than advised, as the dog can develop resistance and there also might be a relapse. If the dog's health is not improved, you should  consult your veterinarian before giving supplementary doses.