Aminocaproic Acid

By Kayla Hyland, DVM; Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is aminocaproic acid?

Aminocaproic acid (brand name: Amicar®, also known as epsilon-aminocaproic acid) is a medication that blocks the breakdown of clots (fibrinolysis), thereby allowing clots to form and remain. This medication is most useful when preventing postoperative bleeding, especially in sighthounds (e.g., whippets, greyhounds, silken windhounds, Irish wolfhounds).

Its use in dogs to treat hyperfibrinolysis and degenerative myelopathy in German shepherd dogs is “off label” or “extra-label”. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off-label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as they may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is aminocaproic acid given?

Aminocaproic acid is given by mouth in the form of a tablet or liquid syrup, and it can be given with or without food. If vomiting occurs, try giving this medication with a small meal or treat. The injectable form will be administered in the hospital by your veterinarian. This medication can take up to a few weeks before full effects are noted, but gradual improvements are usually noticeable after a few days.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember. However, if it is close to time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed, give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects are uncommon, and only about 1/100 dogs will have gastrointestinal irritation and exhibit signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, or decreased appetite. Occasionally, and especially in pets with kidney disease, it may cause an increase in potassium levels. This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Aminocaproic acid should not be used by pets that are actively undergoing clot formation in the vessels, including the disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) condition. This medication is to be used with extreme caution in pets with heart, kidney, or liver disease. Your veterinarian will carefully evaluate risk versus benefit when using this medication in pregnant or nursing pets.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

Currently, there are no known drug interactions. Regardless, be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working. Monitor your pet for abnormal side effects, such as severe lethargy, collapse, inability to walk, breathing problems, or seizures. If you note any of these side effects, contact your veterinarian immediately.

How do I store aminocaproic acid?

Store all forms of this medication at room temperature between 20°C-25°C (68°F- 77°F), and do not allow the liquid form to freeze.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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