Itraconazole for Dogs

Iltraconazole is a drug approved for use in humans but not FDA-approved for use on dogs; however, it can be prescribed by a veterinarian for use on dogs and cats for fungal infections. Medications should never be administered to any pet without first consulting a veterinarian.

What Does Iltraconazole Treat?

Itraconazole inhibits the growth of fungi by interfering with the formation and growth of the fungal cell wall. This antifungal drug is similar to other related drugs, such as ketoconazole, miconazole, Nizoral and fluconazole in its action in relation to cell wall formation. Itraconazole is only effective against yeast or fungal organisms not bacteria.

Fungi cause skin infections, such as ringworm, toenail infections, and the more serious fungal infections such as cryptococcosis and blastomycosis. Itraconazole is effective for use against all of these fungal infections that can affect bone, brain, skin, claws, the respiratory tract (lungs) or other tissues.

Side Effects of Iltraconazole

As with most any medication, Itraconazole has some side effects. Itraconazole does affect the liver and can cause hepatitis. This is the drug’s most serious adverse effect.

Other side effects include:

  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • swelling of the legs
  • nausea
  • skin ulcers
  • jaundice

All of these reactions should be reported to a veterinarian. In addition, the drug should not be given to any pet with known allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to this drug.

Itraconazole can also interact with other medications, such as cisapride, antacids, certain antibiotics and digoxin. This only means that the medications must be taken hours apart so that they do not interfere with one another. It is always wise to consult with a veterinarian and discuss any possible interactions with any medications the dog is already taking. Itraconazole registers less adverse reactions and less severe reactions than most other antifungal drugs.

As with other medications that affect the liver and its function, blood work is performed throughout the course of treatment. Some dogs show a mild elevation in the level of liver enzymes. This does not generally change the treatment plan unless this increased level is accompanied by decreased appetite, depression and vomiting. Liver toxicity, though rarely occurring in less than 10% of cases, will usually begin in the second month of treatment.

Itraconazole is not used in pregnant animals unless as a life-saving measure. It appears in the breast milk. This drug is not used in pets with liver disease or a decreased gastric acid production condition.

Itraconazole is administered in 100 mg capsules. The pill may have to be hidden inside a dog’s food in order for the dog to take the medication. Another method involves gently opening a dog’s mouth and tossing the pill into the back of the throat while stroking the neck to coax the pill down.

Treatment with Iltraconazole

The severity of the infection, development of adverse reactions and their severity, and the response of the medication against the fungal infection determines the length of time for treatment. Treatment requiring several weeks is common. The entire dose of medication prescribed by the veterinarian needs to be exhausted to ensure that the infection does not return and that the infection does not develop a resistance to the drug itself.