Maropitant Citrate

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is maropitant citrate?

Maropitant citrate (brand name: Cerenia®) is an antiemetic used to treat vomiting and motion sickness in dogs and cats. It also may act as a mild pain control medication.

Use of the tablets in cats to treat nausea and vomiting 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 directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is maropitant citrate given?

Maropitant citrate is given by mouth in the form of a tablet, or is injected under the skin as instructed by a veterinary professional. When given to prevent motion sickness, feed your pet a small meal 3 hours before traveling, and then 1 hour later (2 hours prior to travel) administer maropitant citrate. Giving this medication with a small meal will help prevent vomiting. Be careful not to wrap the pill too tightly in food, as this can prevent the drug from being properly absorbed. This medication will take effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, and improvement in clinical signs should follow.

If given to prevent vomiting associated with chemotherapy, administer maropitant citrate prior to the administration of the chemotherapeutic agent.

Be cautious when administering this medication, as topical exposure could cause an allergic reaction in people. Wash with soap and water if this occurs.

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. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

The most common side effects are vomiting and hypersalivation at the higher doses required for motion sickness. When using the injectable form, pain or swelling at the site of injection can occur. Rarer side effects include lethargy, decreased appetite, diarrhea, allergic reactions, uncoordinated walking, and convulsions. In addition to these rare side effects, cats may also experience abnormal breathing, recumbency (laying down and unable to get up), vomiting, panting, and muscle tremors. 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?

This medication should not be used in pets that have ingested toxins or that have a gastrointestinal obstruction, or in pets under 8 weeks old. It should be used with caution in pets that have heart or liver disease, or pets that are pregnant and/or nursing. Maropitant citrate should be used with caution in puppies under 16 weeks of age when using the higher, motion-sickness dosing, as bone marrow suppression has occurred in these cases.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with maropitant citrate: chloramphenicol, phenobarbital, erythromycin, ketoconazole, itraconazole, and NSAIDs.

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.

How do I store maropitant citrate?

Maropitant citrate tablets should be stored at room temperature away from moisture.

Store the injectable solution between 20°C and 25°C (68°F-77°F) with excursions between 15°C and 30°C (59°F-86°F) permitted. Once the vial has been punctured, store the injectable in the refrigerator between 2°C and 8°C (36°F-46°F) and use within 90 days. Do not 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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