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Cyclosporine is an immunosuppressant sometimes prescribed for autoimmune disorders in dogs who are unresponsive to other treatments. Cyclosporine inhibits the action of the cells and proteins that signal to other cells to initialize an immune response.Cyclosporine's effects are harmful for healthy dogs because they inhibit the body's protective measures to fight pathogens. However, this medication can be life-saving for autoimmune dogs, because it prevents their body from attacking itself. Interestingly, cyclosporine's chemical precursor comes from a parasitic fungus that lies dormant in the soil and preys on beetles.
This medication is commonly given to suppress immune responses in transplant patients to reduce the chances of organ rejection. Cyclosporine is also effective at treating canines with hemolytic anemia, a potentially life-threatening disorder where the immune system destroys healthy red blood cells.
Other conditions for which vets prescribe this medicine include anal fistulas, severe allergies, systemic scleroderma, IBS, and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. Cyclosporine is typically a last-resort treatment since it comes with serious side effects and is hazardous to healthy individuals.
Vets typically start canines on a higher dosage and gradually wean them down to the smallest effective dose. An average starting dose of this medication is around 1.5 mg to 3 mg per pound every 12 hours.
Cyclosporine works best on an empty stomach. Hold off on feeding your dog for at least 2 hours before or after giving this medicine. Always use gloves when in contact with this medication since it can cause serious health problems in people if handled improperly.
One placebo-controlled study on the efficacy of cyclosporine in dogs as a treatment for atopic dermatitis found that high doses of this medication significantly reduced dermatological symptoms in most of the dogs.
A different treatment study of dogs with anal fistulas found that cyclosporine had a 100% success rate and promoted healing in dogs who were unresponsive to traditional antibiotics.
A study of 14 dogs with steroid-induced irritable bowel syndrome found that cyclosporine decreased symptoms of IBS in all but 2 dogs.
Cyclosporine causes a wide range of side effects, but the most common are lack of appetite and upset stomach. Other adverse effects this medication can cause include:
Loss of appetite
Outer ear infection
Lymph node swelling
Change in gums
Hyperkeratinization of the paws
Changes in fur appearance
The FDA requires several black box warnings for cyclosporine-containing drugs. One of these warnings states cyclosporine increases susceptibility to sometimes deadly secondary infections. Another of these warnings states cyclosporine treatment requires regular blood analyses to ensure the proper dosage and avoid liver toxicity.
Research shows this medication causes fetal harm, birth defects, and neonatal death in the offspring of lab animals. Cyclosporine passes into the mother's milk so it shouldn't be given to lactating dogs.
Cyclosporine conflicts with a lot of different medications, including:
Supplements containing St, John's Wart
Despite its use as a treatment for severe allergies, cyclosporine can trigger allergic reactions in some dogs. Inform your vet if your dog has had reactions to oral or ophthalmic drugs containing cyclosporine.
Signs your dog may be having an adverse reaction to this medication include white gums, frequent watery stools, vomiting, itching, respiratory problems, and puffy face.
Cyclosporine is available as an ophthalmic solution, gel capsule, liquid suspension, oral tablet, and an intravenous solution.
No. Research shows this medication is harmful to both unborn and nursing offspring of mammals.
Most vets approve this medication for dogs above 4 lbs and those older than 6 months. There isn't any research on the safety of cyclosporine in dogs younger than 6 months or smaller than 4 lbs.
Cyclosporine goes by several different brand names, including Atopica, Restasis, Neoral, Sandimmune, and Gengraf.
This medication isn't a cure for autoimmune conditions, though it can prevent immune responses and symptomatic flare-ups when given long-term.
You may notice your pet responds to this medication in as little as 2 weeks or as long as 4 months.
The only food that interferes with the action of cyclosporine is grapefruit, though most dogs won’t eat it.
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