By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is leuprolide?

Leuprolide (brand name: Lupron, Carcinil, Daronda, Eligard, Elityran, Enanton, Enantone, Ginecrin, Lectrum, Leuplin, Lucrin, Lupride, Procren, Procrin, Prostap, Reliser, Trenantone, Viadur) is a synthetic hormone used to treat adrenal gland problems in ferrets, gonadal issues in birds, and experimentally treat reproductive issues and incontinence (involuntary loss of bladder and bowel control) in dogs and cats.  

Its use in ferrets and birds to treat adrenal and gonadal problems 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 their direction may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is leuprolide given?

Leuprolide is given by injection into the muscle or under the skin and is usually administered by a veterinary professional. Leuprolide is considered a hazardous drug. Wear gloves when handling the medication, and do not handle if you are pregnant or nursing. This medication will take effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, but outward effects may take a few days to be recognized.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

Give the missed dose as soon as you remember, and then wait the recommended amount of time between doses. You should never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects in ferrets include pain at the injection site, breathing difficulties, and sleepiness. Use over time can also lead to tolerance, and therefore higher doses may be needed to get the same effects.

Studies in birds are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding side effects is also limited. There has been one report of an allergic reaction in elf owls, but the significance of this side effect is unknown.

This long-acting medication lasts for weeks to months and may last longer in pets with kidney or liver disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Do not use leuprolide in pets that are allergic to it or other gonadotropin-releasing hormones. Do not use in pregnant or nursing animals, as major abnormalities and adverse reactions may occur.

Studies in animals are limited for this medication and therefore information regarding risk factors is also limited. In humans, this medication should be used cautiously in patients with certain heart conditions or in young patients. These human risk factors should be considered when using this medication in animals.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with leuprolide: antidiabetic medications and any medications that cause QT prolongation (such as cisapride).

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?

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working by checking clinical signs. In ferrets, this medication should promote hair regrowth and decrease vulvar swelling, itchiness, aggression, and sexual behaviors. In birds, egg-laying should decrease.

How do I store leuprolide?

Store the injectable form at room temperature, below 30°C (86°F). Protect from freezing and light.

The depot formulation should also be stored at room temperature below 30°C (86°F). Once reconstituted, discard this medication within 2 hours.

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.

Related Articles