By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is meclizine?

Meclizine (brand names: Antivert®, Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula, Bonine®, Bonamine®, Postafen®, Univert®) is an antihistamine used to prevent and treat motion sickness and vomiting associated with it.

Its use in cats, dogs, and other small mammals to treat motion sickness 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 meclizine given?

Meclizine is given by mouth in the form of a tablet. It can be given with or without food, however giving this medication with a treat or small meal may help prevent vomiting. If using this medication to prevent motion sickness during travel, give the medication at least 30-60 minutes prior to travel.

This medication will take effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, and improvement in clinical signs should follow.

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 effect is sedation or sleepiness. Less commonly, dry gums and eyes, or a fast heart rate may occur. Occasionally, central nervous system stimulation may occur and lead to excitement as opposed to sleepiness. In cats, this medication may cause a lack of appetite.

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?

Meclizine should not be used in pets that are allergic to it. It should be used with caution in pets with prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate), bladder neck obstruction, severe heart failure, angle-closure glaucoma, or pyeloduodenal obstruction (obstruction between the stomach and small intestine). it should be used with caution in pregnant and nursing animals.

This medication may also interfere with allergy skin testing. Discontinue this medication 3-7 days prior to skin testing.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with meclizine: CNS depressants or anticholinergic drugs.

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?

Monitor your pet for prolonged or severe side effects 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 meclizine?

Meclizine should be stored at room temperature, away from light and in a tight container.

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