For vomiting and motion sickness, Cerenia can calm a troubled tummy.
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woman traveling with her dog, stops to sit together in the back of her car to watch the sunset; using cerenia for dogs for motion sickness
Credit: Rasulov / Adobe Stock

Nausea and vomiting are miserable for anyone. If your dog is throwing up, you want something to stop it—and quick. That's when you can turn to Cerenia, a fast-acting drug used to treat and prevent vomiting in dogs. Here's what to know about using Cerenia to help your pup's tummy.

What Is Cerenia Used For?

Cerenia is the brand name of maropitant citrate, a drug used to treat vomiting in dogs and cats. In dogs, it's also used to prevent vomiting due to motion sickness. Cerenia can also prevent vomiting that occurs as a side effect of anesthesia and other medications, such as chemotherapy. A veterinarian will need to prescribe Cerenia for your pup.

Cerenia works in the central nervous system by blocking the action of the main neurotransmitter involved in vomiting. In addition to its antiemetic properties, Cerenia has mild anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and anti-anxiety effects.

Dogs throw up for a number of reasons, but Cerenia can stop the vomiting regardless of the reason. This provides some relief to your dog while your vet investigates what's going on. However, sometimes vomiting should not be stopped right away. In cases of toxin ingestion, your vet may actually need to make your dog vomit as a part of treatment. And if a gastrointestinal obstruction is suspected, the vet will run tests before treating the vomiting.

Cerenia Injections vs. Tablets 

Cerenia is available in both tablet and injectable forms. Tablets are sized at 16, 24, 60, and 160 milligrams each and can be administered at home. Cerenia injections for dogs are available for use in veterinary facilities. Your veterinarian might treat your pup's vomiting by giving an injection of Cerenia in the clinic and then sending you home with oral tablets for subsequent dosing.

Cerenia Side Effects in Dogs

Cerenia is generally well tolerated by dogs, especially at lower doses, but some dogs will vomit up the pill right after swallowing it. Dogs may also experience vomiting and excessive salivation when higher doses are used to prevent motion sickness. Uncommon side effects include:

Injectable Cerenia may cause pain and swelling at the injection site. Vets often keep the solution refrigerated because this has been shown to reduce injection pain. Though unlikely, infections at the site of injection are possible.

Warnings and Contraindications

Cerenia isn't a one-fix-fits-all for puking pups. There are a few things vets will keep in mind before prescribing this drug:

  • Because the drug is metabolized in the liver, Cerenia should be used with caution in dogs who have liver disease
  • Cerenia is often avoided if gastrointestinal obstruction or toxin ingestion is suspected.
  • The safety of Cerenia has not been evaluated in pregnant or lactating dogs, nor in dogs used for breeding.
  • Cerenia should be avoided or used with extreme caution in dogs under 4 months of age.

Some drugs may change the way Cerenia works, including certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain behavioral medications, cardiac drugs, and anticonvulsants. Be sure to tell your vet about all medications and supplements that your dog takes.

Cerenia Dosage for Dogs

Cerenia tablets should be given by mouth, and the correct dosage depends on the reason for treatment. Oral Cerenia will take effect about one hour after dosing and last approximately 24 hours.

Acute Vomiting

To treat and prevent acute vomiting, Cerenia is dosed at a minimum of 2 milligrams per kilogram of body mass once daily for up to five days. Puppies under 7 months old should not take this drug for more than five days in a row.

Motion Sickness

Cerenia can be used to prevent vomiting due to motion sickness in dogs aged 4 months and older. It should be given orally at a minimum dose of 8 milligrams per kilogram of body mass once daily for up to two days. The dose should be given at least two hours prior to travel. When used for motion sickness, Cerenia should be given with a small amount of food (to prevent any vomiting caused by the dose itself), but avoid feeding your dog a full meal prior to travel.

Contact your veterinarian if your dog continues vomiting during Cerenia treatment—it could be a sign of a serious issue, like a gastrointestinal obstruction.

Overdose Risks

Drug trials showed that dogs tolerated Cerenia at doses up to three times the recommended oral dose for motion sickness with no adverse effects. However, all dogs respond differently to medications.

Seek veterinary advice if your dog gets too much Cerenia. Note the time of overdose and the amount, if known. Call your local vet, a vet emergency center, or a pet poison control service like ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661. They may tell you to induce vomiting if the overdose happened recently. Dogs may need follow-up treatment and monitoring at a veterinary hospital. 

Are There Alternatives for Cerenia? 

Before Cerenia became available in 2008, vets often used drugs like metoclopramide to treat mild to moderate vomiting. Stronger antiemetics like ondansetron were sometimes used for severe nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. These and similar drugs can still be used when Cerenia is not the best option. Talk to your vet about the pros and cons of various treatment options for your dog's vomiting.