This common drug can provide relief to vomiting dogs.
dogs with their food bowls; metoclopramide for dogs
Credit: Jose Luis Raota / Getty

Vomiting is one of the most common signs of illness in dogs. Naturally, we want to stop this vomiting as quickly as possible and figure out what's causing it. That's when metoclopramide comes in handy.

It's been used for decades in veterinary medicine to successfully relieve nausea and vomiting in dogs. Here's what to expect if your vet prescribes metoclopramide for your dog, including uses, side effects, dosage, and what to watch out for when your dog is on this medication.

What is Metoclopramide Used for in Dogs?

Metoclopramide is a prescription medication primarily used to treat nausea and vomiting in dogs. It is also known by the brand name Reglan.

Metoclopramide affects both the upper gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system (CNS). It works in the upper GI tract by stimulating motility—the movement of food and liquids through the GI tract—but it doesn't alter the lower GI tract. In addition, metoclopramide can cross the blood-brain barrier to block dopamine uptake associated with nausea and vomiting.

Metoclopramide is used to treat a few different conditions in dogs:

Side Effects of Metoclopramide in Dogs

Most dogs respond well to metoclopramide, but side effects occur in some cases. Because this medication crosses the blood-brain barrier, it can also affect the central nervous system. Potential side effects of metoclopramide include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Sedation or drowsiness 
  • Depression
  • Muscle spasms or involuntary movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure

Contact your veterinarian if you notice these side effects or other signs of illness while your dog is on metoclopramide. It's also important to notify your vet if your dog is still vomiting while taking metoclopramide. 

Metoclopramide Dosage for Dogs

Metoclopramide is given orally as a pill or syrup. It's also available in an injectable form, which is used in veterinary facilities. Oral metoclopramide can be given with or without food, but it typically works best when given about 20 minutes before a meal.

The recommended dosage of metoclopramide for dogs varies depending on the reason for treatment. Dogs are typically dosed between 0.2 to 0.5 milligrams per kilogram of body mass every 8 hours. Your veterinarian will determine the best dose based on your dog's weight and current condition.

Can Dogs Overdose on Metoclopramide?

While it's possible for a dog to overdose on metoclopramide, it would take an extreme amount to be fatal (hundreds of pills). Overdose typically causes more severe side effects to occur. 

If you accidentally give your dog an extra dose of metoclopramide, monitor your dog for side effects. You can resume the normal dosing schedule if your dog is acting normally. However, contact your vet immediately if your dog gets into a whole bottle of pills. You may be instructed to make your dog throw up or seek emergency veterinary care.

Metoclopramide Warnings and Precautions

Metoclopramide should not be used in dogs with obstructions, injuries, or bleeding in the GI tract. It should also be avoided in dogs with a history of seizures or head trauma. Though metoclopramide can be given to pregnant or nursing dogs, it should be used cautiously. In addition, caution must be used in dogs with kidney disorders

In most cases, metoclopramide is used for short-term treatment of nausea and vomiting. If your vet prescribes it for long-term use, they may recommend regular monitoring in the form of lab work and examinations. 

There are several potential drug interactions with metoclopramide, so be sure to tell your vet about all medications and supplements that you give to your dog.