Is it Safe to Use Theophylline for Dogs?

Is it Safe to Use Theophylline for Dogs?

Author WDF Staff


Like humans, dogs can have airway issues. One of those issues is bronchoconstriction. Dogs will cough and have trouble breathing. Luckily, there are different medications vets can give our dogs to help them deal with those issues. Some of those meds contain the active ingredient called theophylline. If your dog needs this medication, it is entirely natural you want to know more about it. Here’s what you should know about theophylline for dogs.

What is theophylline?

Theophylline is a bronchodilator, which means it helps relax the breathing muscles. It will also help dogs expel mucus from their lungs or throat. This active ingredient will strengthen the muscles involved in breathing, and it is structurally pretty close to caffeine. That means it will affect the central nervous system and it has mild diuretic properties. It is a medication made for humans, and the FDA has not approved it for animal use.

VET TIP: Prescribing human medications to dogs or cats is not uncommon in veterinary medicine. In fact, it is a common practice, and you shouldn’t be too surprised if your vet prescribes it for your dog.

Is it effective?

One of the most important things to know about giving human medications to dogs is the drug’s effectiveness. If the drug wasn’t effective, it would make no sense to give it to dogs. Unfortunately, there are no animal versions of this medication, so humans meds that contain theophylline might be a great choice for dogs.

dog looking up

The good news is that theophylline is considered effective when it comes to helping our dogs deal with respiratory issues. However, whenever you have to give your dog human drugs, you have to stick to your vet’s instructions. They know why they prescribed it, so make sure you stick with your vet’s instructions regarding this drug.

Is it safe?

The second most important question about this drug is, “Is theophylline safe for my dog?” This is not an uncommon question from dog owners. In fact, when they have to give their dogs human medications, this is one of the first things they ask.

Here is the second bit of good news - theophylline is considered safe for dogs. However, giving the dog a proper dosage is crucial. You should never give your dog a higher dosage. Vets know the safe dosage for your dog, and you should not experiment with your dog’s health. Overdoses with theophylline are rare, but they can happen.

Theophylline side effects

Like any other drug in the world, theophylline can cause some side effects. However, just because they are possible doesn’t mean your dog will necessarily develop them. Nevertheless, it is essential to know what side effects are possible and how to react if they do happen. The good news is, if they do occur, they are usually mild and short-lasting. The most common theophylline side effects are;

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleeplessness
  • Increased activity
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased appetite

dog on pillow

SAFETY TIP: If your dog somehow gets into your theophylline stash, they might ingest a high dosage and cause toxicity. They can suffer seizures and collapse. Call your vet and let them know your dog ate too many pills.

How is theophylline given to dogs?

Theophylline comes in three forms - pills, liquid, and injection. The injection can only be given by vets, and they know the proper dosage and administration rules. Dog owners can give their dogs theophylline in the form of a tablet or liquid. We personally prefer tablets because they are easier to measure and administer. You need to make sure your dog has taken a pill, but if your dog spits out a bit of theophylline liquid, you can never be sure how much they spit out.

Theophylline medication works best on an empty stomach, and it is usually given to dogs every 6, 8, 12, or 24 hours. Listen to your vet’s advice and stick to their recommended schedule.

Where can I get it?

Theophylline is a prescription medication, so your vet has to write you a prescription before you get it. If you have a prescription, you can get it in your local pharmacy. If you prefer ordering meds online, you can get the generic version of the drug on Chewy’s online pharmacy.

World Dog Finder team

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