If your dog has chronic liver disease, your vet may prescribe ursodiol.
It has several brand names, such as Urso, Ursofalk, and Actigall.
Besides chronic liver disease, ursodiol can also be used to treat some gallbladder conditions.
Ursodiol for dogs helps the flow of bile acids so they can continue to filter toxins from their system.
That process is what their gallbladder and liver are meant to do naturally.
Keep reading to discover how the medication works and where you can get it.
What Is Ursodiol?
Ursodiol is the generic name for a bile acid that occurs naturally in the body.
In humans, it is used to treat liver and gallbladder conditions like gallstones, chronic hepatitis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The medication is prescribed when the liver and gallbladder cannot make enough bile to function.
How Does Ursodiol for Dogs Work?
When you give your dog ursodiol, it reduces the amount of cholesterol in her body.
The medication works by lessening the cholesterol that gets absorbed through food.
Moreover, it keeps the liver from producing as much cholesterol as it would without the ursodiol.
It also helps break down cholesterol faster.
That is because bile acid is required, but if your dog’s liver and gallbladder aren’t producing those bile acids on their own, they need extra help.
How Is Ursodiol Given?
You can give ursodiol in tablet or capsule form, and sometimes liquid suspension form.
The latter is not typically available on the shelf, so needs to be specifically compounded.
You should always give the prescribed dosage with food.
Are There Any Potential Side Effects of Ursodiol for Dogs?
Because ursodiol is a naturally occurring bile acid in the body, most dogs accept the medication well.
However, there is always the risk of side effects with any medication, and ursodiol tablets or capsules are no exception.
Call your vet immediately If your dog experiences diarrhea after consuming ursodiol with food.
Ursodiol typically wears off after a day, so your dog’s diarrhea should be short-lived.
Your vet might suggest adjusting the dosage, your pet’s diet, or switching medication brands.
They might even recommend stopping ursodiol altogether.
Gastrointestinal discomfort is an all-encompassing term that includes vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain or discomfort, and potential bloating.
It could manifest if you give your dog ursodiol without a meal, as food helps absorb the bile acid and kickstart natural digestive processes.
A typical prescription is to give ursodiol twice per day with food.
Ursodiol with food should prevent nausea and GI distress while also ensuring it gets absorbed into your dog’s system.
It may be difficult to tell if your dog has a headache after ingesting ursodiol, but there are signs.
If your dog is avoiding bright lights and seems sensitive to light, this is one sign of a headache.
If she is also sleeping excessively or displaying anxious behaviors, it could also be a sign of a headache.
If this occurs, ask your vet for the steps you need to take.
The headache may be mild and go away on its own, even with continued use of ursodiol.
What Should You Discuss With Your Veterinarian Before Giving Your Pet Ursodiol?
To avoid complications, you should always talk to a veterinarian before giving your dog ursodiol.
If Your Dog Is Pregnant or Lactating
Veterinarians and researchers don’t know if breast milk transmits ursodiol.
So, if your dog is pregnant (and about to lactate), it is best to wait until the pups get weaned before reconsidering ursodiol, as they do not need extra bile acid.
Other Medical Conditions
Your vet will have your pet’s medical records, ensuring they will be aware of any conditions before considering ursodiol for dogs.
Should the vet be new, your dog’s medical history might be unknown to them.
In that context, you can either fill them in or ask the vet to perform a check-up before prescribing ursodiol.
Medications like acetaminophen, estrogen, taurine, and cholestyramine resin will not interact well with ursodiol.
In addition, medications with aluminum, like some antacids, can also cause serious side effects.
How Should Ursodiol Be Given to Your Dog?
There are several ways to give ursodiol to your pup.
As Instructed by Veterinarian
The FDA has not approved ursodiol for veterinary use.
However, veterinarians still prescribe it for dogs and cats with liver and gallbladder issues.
Before you even start your dog on a prescription of ursodiol, your vet should perform a full liver panel.
They should do it again a month after medication, three months after, and then every six months as your dog remains on their prescription.
Your vet will continue to monitor your pet’s condition with a gallbladder ultrasound or additional liver tests.
Follow your vet’s instructions to the letter when giving your dog their (usually twice) daily dose of ursodiol.
Food with ursodiol helps your pet’s system more easily absorb bile acid and makes the medication work faster.
Your dog should have access to plenty of water when on this medication.
There’s no need to withhold it when your pooch is taking ursodiol.
How Long Can Dogs Stay on Ursodiol?
Dogs can stay on ursodiol as long as they need to.
If your pet isn’t experiencing long-term negative side effects from consuming the medication, then there is no reason to stop.
That is especially the case if the ursodiol is effective in treating his gallbladder or liver conditions.
Can You Stop Ursodiol Suddenly for Your Dog?
You shouldn’t suddenly stop giving your pet any medication for a serious health condition.
Instead, consult with your vet first.
With that being said, if you stop giving your dog ursodiol without decreasing the dosage over time, your dog shouldn’t suffer drastic effects.
Their liver or gallbladder condition will be affected, but the body won’t go through withdrawals.
Where Can You Get Ursodiol for Your Pet?
You will need to have a vet’s prescription for ursodiol.
Once you have that, you can purchase the medication from a pet prescription or a store like Walmart.
Alternatively, you can go to your local pharmacy.
How Much Does Ursodiol for Dogs Cost?
Capsules of ursodiol are typically less than $2 each.
You can often find it discounted on pet prescription sites, but prices are likely to vary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have any more questions about ursodiol for dogs?
Keep reading as we have the answers!
Are there any drug interactions to be aware of?
As mentioned above, ursodiol can interact poorly with acetaminophen, which is found in Tylenol.
It also interacts with antacids because they contain aluminum.
The medication should not be administered to your dog if he’s taking cholestyramine resin, another cholesterol medication.
Can ursodiol cause weight gain in dogs?
In humans with primary biliary cirrhosis (a type of liver disease), ursodiol has been associated with weight gain.
However, no evidence supports the possibility ursodiol causes weight gain in dogs.
Ursodiol is an effective option for treating liver and gallbladder conditions.
Still, you must do your research before you consider giving the medication to your beloved pet.
With that in mind, make an appointment with a vet if you have any more questions and concerns about Ursodiol for dogs.
Do you have any questions about ursodiol?
Leave a comment below and tell us about your own experiences with the medication.