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Idoxuridine for Veterinary Use

by Barbara Forney, VMD

Basic Information

Idoxuridine is a topical antiviral drug used to treat ocular herpetic lesions in cats. It is virustatic rather than virucidal. The substitution of idoxuridine for thymidine in the viral DNA causes a misreading of the genetic sequence and consequently the virus is unable to replicate.


Idoxuridine is a topical antiviral ophthalmic preparation used to treat Feline Herpes Virus (FHV). Severe naso-ocular signs, with corneal ulceration, commonly are seen with FHV. In addition FHV can have a variety of more chronic ocular presentations including chronic conjunctivitis, tear-duct blockage or infection, corneal ulcerative keratitis, stromal keratitis, eosinophilic keratitis, and anterior uveitis. Idoxuridine generally is well-tolerated.

It penetrates the conjunctiva and cornea poorly except where there is ulceration, requiring frequent application. Treatment will take weeks and should continue for an additional week past the resolution of all clinical signs.

Idoxuridine Side Effects

Some local irritation.


Idoxuridine should not be used with topical ophthalmic corticosteroids to treat corneal ulceration.

Drug Interactions

None were found in the literature.


Recommended dose interval is every two to three hours; overdose is unlikely to occur.

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Therapeutic Class
Topical anti-viral ophthalmic drug


May Be Prescribed by Vets for:
Feline ocular herpes-virus infection.

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About the Author

Dr. Barbara Forney

Barbara Forney, VMD

Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.

She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.

Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.