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Hydromorphone for Dogs and Cats

By Evan Ware, DVM

Last reviewed: 7/13/2022

Commonly prescribed for: Moderate to Severe Pain

Species: Dogs and Cats

Therapeutic Class: Opioid Analgesic

Basic Information

Hydromorphone is a very potent opioid analgesic drug. This medication is a narcotic and only available with a prescription from a veterinarian with an active DEA license.

Hydromorphone suppresses the cough reflex within the brain, which can make it an ideal treatment choice for these types of conditions in animals.

Veterinary Uses for Hydromorphone

In veterinary medicine, the primary use for Hydromorphone is to treat moderate to severe pain and preoperatively to reduce the sensation of pain from surgery.

Potential Side-Effects of Hydromorphone

Hydromorphone is a powerful opiate drug, so it can cause some animal patients to experience certain side-effects after the drug is administered. The most-common side effects associated with Hydromorphone are sedation and nausea, although it also can cause some patients to experience constipation.

Drug Interactions with Hydromorphone

Hydromorphone should not be administered to an animal with a known allergy to this or other opiates. It also should be avoided if the patient is suffering from a head injury or is being treated for a bacterial infection of the lungs.

Hydromorphone should not be administered to a patient suffering from pre-existing heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, or low thyroid function unless strictly monitored by the veterinarian. Hydromorphone is not recommended for use in cats, as it can negatively affect the animal's central nervous system.

Other medications potentially can interact with Hydromorphone; therefore, it is critical for the veterinarian to be aware of any medications or supplements the animal already may be taking. Drugs known to interact with this medication include certain tranquilizers, barbiturates, and antihistamines.
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