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Codeine is an opioid used to treat a variety of ailments, including pain, coughing, and diarrhea. It can also be used as a sedative in certain circumstances. Codeine is of similar chemical composition to morphine and is highly addictive. Codeine is a controlled substance in the U.S., and as a result, you'll only be able to give this to your pet if prescribed by your veterinarian.

Codeine is generally safe to administer to dogs; however, there are several things to consider before giving your dog codeine. Codeine can cause serious health problems in dogs. Most of these issues stem from overdosing, complications due to chronic diseases, and interactions with other drugs. Continue reading to find out about dosages, side effects, and other considerations of codeine for dogs.

Dosage

When prescribed to dogs, codeine is usually mixed with acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce its strength. The International Veterinary Council of Pain Management states that in a standard 30 mg of codeine/150 mg of acetaminophen dosage, a dog should be given roughly 1 to 2 mg per kilogram of weight every 8 to 12 hours.

If your veterinarian has given your dog a different dosage of codeine or prescribes pure codeine, you should consult with them about the best dose to give your pet.

Codeine is administered orally in liquid or tablet form; it can occasionally be given as an injection by a veterinarian. Your dog can take codeine with or without food. If you find codeine is upsetting your dog's stomach when you give it to them without any food, try only administering the drug with meals. 

Efficacy

When treating a long term injury, codeine, when mixed with acetaminophen, can be used over a long period of time. It's best to discuss treatment length with your vet, who can advise you on how long your pet should be taking codeine. Codeine is an addictive substance, so you shouldn't suddenly stop giving your dog this substance, as it could cause withdrawals. 

Side effects

Potential side effects you may notice while your dog is taking codeine include:

Vomiting, drowsiness, and nausea are the most common side effect associated with codeine. If you notice more severe side effects like difficulty breathing and reduced muscle movement, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Considerations

Drug interactions

As codeine is an opiate, using it along with other drugs can cause health problems and severe side effects. You should act with caution and consult your veterinarian if your dog is currently taking:

  • Antidepressants

  • Anticholinergic drugs 

  • Anesthetics

  • Tranquilizers

  • Barbiturates

You should also let your vet know if you are currently giving your dog any supplements or vitamins, as this may interfere with treatment. 

Allergic reactions and sensitivity

Dogs can be allergic to opioids, including codeine. If you notice your dog has any unusual symptoms or severe side effects, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

You should let your veterinarian know if your dog has any of the following health problems, as codeine could have an adverse effect as a result:

Codeine should also be used with caution if your dog is elderly, pregnant, or is a working dog.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to monitor my dog closely while they're taking codeine?

You won't need to monitor your dog very closely while they're taking codeine. You'll mainly want to keep an eye out for any severe side effects, and your veterinarian may want to monitor briefly to make sure the codeine is taking effect. 

Can I use codeine for dogs to treat myself and other animals?

Codeine is a highly addictive substance and shouldn't be used by humans unless prescribed by a doctor. You should never give your other pets codeine for dogs. Codeine mixed with acetaminophen is especially harmful to cats. Codeine can also cause tremors and seizures in felines. 

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

If you forget to give your dog a dosage, administer it as soon as possible. Afterward, make sure you wait the recommended 8 to 12 hours. You should never double up on codeine, as this could cause your dog to overdose. 

What should I do if my dog won't eat their codeine tablet?

If you're struggling to get your dog to take a tablet, try folding it up in something they love, like cheese or cold meats. You can also try hiding it in their meals. If your dog still won't take their tablet, contact your veterinarian, who may be able to switch you onto a liquid formula that can be placed on your dog's food. 

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