Ranitidine is a medication that blocks the histamine receptor that is responsible for stimulating stomach acid secretion. Veterinarians sometimes recommend ranitidine for dogs with stomach or intestinal ulcers. This medication can also prevent these conditions by limiting stomach acid secretion. In addition, vets use ranitidine to treat dogs suffering from gastritis, acid reflux disease and mast cell tumors. It also works as a supplemental treatment in cases of acute gastric dilation-volvulus.
Stomach acid is necessary to properly digest food, but excessive amounts can erode the lining of the stomach and intestines. Ranitidine helps moderate the amount of acid present in the stomach, thereby preventing much of the damage the acid can cause. This medication can help to prevent gastric irritation and ulceration in dogs with portosystemic shunts. Veterinarians often use ranitidine for dogs with mast cell tumors as these growths produce a large quantity of histamines. Ranitidine does not treat the tumor but lessons the side effects of the excessive histamines.
Acute gastric dilation-volvulus is a condition where a dog's stomach does not properly process and move the stomach's contents through the digestive track. When the digestive process is slowed or stalled, there can be an accumulation of fluid or gas in the stomach. This can be a life-threatening condition for the dog and requires immediate medical intervention. As an adjunct to surgery or other measures to treat the condition, ranitidine can help stimulate and improve gastric emptying.
Ranitidine for dogs is available in pill or convenient granular form. While many dogs are willing to take medication in pill form, it can be difficult to get some dogs to accept and swallow pills. The granular form makes dosing easy as it can be sprinkled over or mixed into dog food. This medication is not approved for use in dogs but is often recommended by veterinarians for off-label use. Although ranitidine is available over the counter without a prescription, dog owners should not use it to treat their pets without the advice and monitoring of a veterinarian.
Side effects are rare when using ranitidine for dogs. Allergic reactions to this medicine can be serious and include symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swollen tongue or face, and intense itching. A pet owner should contact a veterinarian immediately if an allergic reaction is suspected. This medication should not be used in dogs with kidney or liver disease. Ranitidine has known adverse reactions with several medications, including propranolol and theophylline.