Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Ointment

Written By Grace Park
Published: 12/01/2020Updated: 08/30/2021
Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Ointment for Dogs | Wag!

Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Ointment for dogs is used to treat dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), and corneal ulcers, as well as pannus, or superficial keratitis, seen in German Shepherds. Cyclosporine is an immunosuppressant drug that began use in organ transplant patients. When applied topically to the eye, cyclosporine reduces inflammation and increases tear production.  


The cost of Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Ointment for dogs depends on the dosage strength, ranging in price from $40 to $103, up to 10 to 25 ml.


Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Ointment for dogs is a topical medication that is administered directly into the eye. An average dose is:

While commercial ointments are produced containing 2% cyclosporine, your veterinarian may have a solution made with a higher concentration of cyclosporine for your dog.

Dosage instructions

Cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment isapplied directly into the eyes of the affected dog. Always wash your hands before getting ready to apply the ointment to avoid any contamination. Depending on the temperament and comfort level of your dog, you may need assistance. While holding your dog securely, open one eye at a time to spread an even layer of ointment along the length of the lower lid, then allow your dog to blink to spread it over the eye. Be sure to apply this ointment in the correct amount as prescribed by your veterinarian.

Dogs that show a positive response to this medication will generally take for the remainder of their lives. You may not see improvement in symptoms for several days or weeks. An exam is generally scheduled within 3 to 4 weeks of starting treatment, and if no response is seen, your veterinarian may increase the concentration of cyclosporine. Talk with your veterinarian before discontinuing use. If applying other topical medications to the eye, wait 5 minutes between medications.


Cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment for dogs is85% effective in producing tears and reducing inflammation in the eye.

A six-week trial evaluated cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment’s effectiveness in treating chronic idiopathic keratoconjunctivitis sicca. At the end of the trial,87% of the 87 dogs showed an improvement.

Side effects of Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Ointment

Side effects are often mild with treatments of cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment for dogs, and can include:

  • Mild irritation

  • Mild burning or stinging

  • Eye redness

  • Eyelid spasm

  • Hair loss around eye

Cyclosporine is an immunosuppressant drug, and can cause symptoms directly related to the health of the immune system. Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice:

  • Weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

  • Abnormal bleeding or bruising

  • Infections


Cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment should not be used in dogs who are allergic to it or to similar drugs, or have eye infections caused by a fungus or virus.

Use caution when using cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment with other immunosuppressant drugs, or in pregnant or lactating animals.

Drug interactions

Cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment for dogs (Optimmune) is comprised of 2% cyclosporine in a carrier oil, such as corn or olive oil. This immunosuppressant medication may interact with the following drugs:

Other immunosuppressant medications (azathioprine, cyclophosphamide)

While topical cyclosporine treatments are not known to have many contraindications with other drugs, oral cyclosporine medications have several. Talk with your veterinarian if your dog is also taking:

  • Antibiotics (imipenem, metronidazole, enrofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfa, sulfasalazine, clarithromycin) 

  • Androgens (testosterone)

  • Antacids (omeprazole, cimetidine, famotidine)

  • Anti-fungal medications (ketoconazole, griseofulvin),

  • Anti-nausea medication (metoclopramide) 

  • Anti-seizure medication (phenobarbital)

  • Blood sugar reducer (glipizide)

  • Blood-thinning medication (clopidogrel)

  • Calcium channel blockers (amlodipine)

  • Heart medications (amiodarone, digoxin)

  • Uric acid reducer (allopurinol)

Be sure to tell your veterinarian of any other medications, supplements, or vitamins your dog is taking.

Allergic reactions and sensitivity

While most dogs tolerate cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment well, there is always the possibility of an allergic reaction. With this medication, you may see swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing, or symptoms of side effects in the eyes that worsens.

Other generalizedsymptoms of an allergic reaction to medication can include hives, diarrhea, weakness, head shaking, or intense scratching. If you see any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately.

Frequently asked questions

Does cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment for dogs require a prescription?

Yes! You will need a prescription from your veterinarian for cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment.

Will my veterinarian need to monitor my dog while using cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment?

Your veterinarian will need to check your dog for reduced inflammation in the eye and amount of tear production, and can adjust your prescription based on those findings.

What do I do if my dog missed a dose?

If you skip a dose of cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment, give it to your dog as soon as you remember. If it is close to the next regularly scheduled dose, then skip the missed dose completely and give the next dose at the regular time. Do not give your dog a double dose of this medicine.

How is cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment stored?

Keep cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment protected from moisture and light, and in a tightly sealed container. Be careful when handling so the metal tube does not crack or leak. If you have a specially made cyclosporine ophthalmic solution, follow storage instructions on the packaging or from your veterinarian.

What do I do if my dog overdoses?

While an overdose of cyclosporine ophthalmic ointment is unlikely when used appropriately, there may be toxic effects if your dog eats the medication.Signs of an overdose can include vomiting, drooling, tremors, agitation, and disorientation. If you suspect your dog has overdosed or is having severe side effects, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately.   

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