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Ammonium chloride is a urine acidifier commonly used to treat large animals like horses, cows, and sheep, but can also be used on dogs and cats. Ammonium chloride treats kidney and bladder stones and removes toxins via urine. It can also be combined with an antibiotic to help fight bacteria in the bladder. 

Most complications from treatment with ammonium chloride occur due to preexisting conditions and drug interactions. Keep reading to learn more about the side effects of ammonium chloride, its efficacy, and considerations.

Dosage

Ammonium chloride can be administered intravenously by a veterinarian, or orally in the form of tablets. Dogs are usually required to take ammonium chloride 3 to 4 times a day; however, your vet may advise you differently.

You can give your dog ammonium chloride with or without food. If your dog vomits after taking ammonium chloride capsules without any food, try feeding them beforehand. Overdosing on ammonium chloride can be very dangerous, so if you notice any unusual or severe side effects, contact your vet immediately.

Dosage instructions

There are 15 different strengths of ammonium chloride available in tablet form, ranging from 80 mg to 1000 mg per capsule. Always follow your veterinarian's advice on using ammonium chloride to treat your dog.

Efficacy

Ammonium chloride effectively prevents kidney and bladder stones and lowers the pH of a dog's urine. As mentioned, ammonium chloride is more commonly given to larger animals, as it is less likely to cause adverse side effects and reactions. Ammonium chloride can treat a number of different ailments, so treatment times may vary. You should always closely follow your vet's instructions when giving your dog ammonium chloride, and never stop giving your dog their medicine midway through treatment.

Side effects

Ammonium chloride can cause several side effects, some more severe than others. The most commonly encountered side effects include: 

Other, more severe side effects include:

If your dog is experiencing any of these uncommon side effects, contact your vet immediately.

Considerations

Drug interactions

You should try to avoid giving your dog ammonium chloride if they are currently taking any of the following:

  • Antacids (aluminum hydroxide)

  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors

  • Certain antibiotics (aminoglycosides, erythromycin) 

  • Painkillers (aspirin)

  • Diabetes medications (chlorpropamide)

  • Opioids (methadone)

  • Heart medications (quinidine)

You should let your vet know if your dog is currently taking any of these medications. You should also tell your vet if you are giving your dog any supplements and vitamins, as these may have an adverse effect on your dog's treatment. It's also important to let your vet know if you change your dog's diet during treatment, as new food may change the pH of your dog's urine. 

Allergic reactions and sensitivity

You should consult a vet before administering ammonium chloride to a dog with the following conditions:

Ammonium chloride raises the acidity of a dog's entire body. This increased acidity will make it more difficult for their lungs to eliminate carbon dioxide effectively. If possible, avoid giving ammonium chloride to pregnant or lactating dogs. This is because ammonium chloride may change the pH of a dog's milk and cause complications in pregnancy.

Frequently asked questions

Will I need to monitor my dog while they're taking ammonium chloride?

Your vet will want to monitor blood pH levels and take a blood gas analysis. You will also be asked to take urine pH readings from your dog. These readings are usually taken via pH tape. The pH of your dog's urine should be less than 6.5 to be considered normal. 

What should I do if I forget to give my dog a dose of ammonium chloride?

If you forget to give your dog a dose of ammonium chloride, administer it as soon as possible. However, if your dog is due another treatment shortly, skip the one you've missed and return to the normal schedule. Do not double up on dosages as this could be potentially harmful.

How should I store ammonium chloride?

Ammonium chloride is a somewhat volatile medication and should be stored at room temperature. You should ensure this medication doesn't get too hot or cold. It's also imperative you do not store ammonium chloride with oxidizing substances or fertilizers, as this could cause an explosive chemical reaction.

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Ammonium Chloride Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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