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Ranitidine for Dogs, Cats, and Horses

By Barbara Forney, VMD

Last reviewed: 7/13/2022

Commonly prescribed for: Decrease acid production in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract

Species: Dogs, Cats, and Horses

Therapeutic Class: Histamine H2 Receptor Antagonists

General Drug Information and Indications

Ranitidine is used in both veterinary medicine and in human medicine to decrease acid production in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Other drugs in this family are cimetidine and famotidine. The scientific name for this family of drugs is "histamine H2 receptor antagonists". These drugs prevent the stomach from producing gastric acid by binding at a receptor cell in the stomach.

Ranitidine is used in dogs, cats, and horses to treat or possibly prevent ulcers of the esophagus, stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Ranitidine differs slightly from cimetidine and famotidine in that it can also stimulate motility in the GI tract. It is sometimes used in animals that are vomiting due to decreased GI motility. Ranitidine may be given orally, or by injection in a hospital situation. Like many other drugs in veterinary medicine, this drug is not FDA approved for use in animals and is not available from a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer. Instead, it is compounded by a specialty pharmacy.

How to Give this Medication

Give this medication to your pet exactly as your veterinarian prescribes. If you miss giving your pet a dose of ranitidine, give the next dose as soon as you remember or, if it is close to the next scheduled dose, return to the regular schedule. Do not double dose to catch up. Ranitidine may be given with food.

If your animal is receiving any of the following drugs: antacids, sucralfate, or ketoconazole, your veterinarian may recommend that you allow two hours between drugs.

Wash your hands after giving your pet this medication.

Side Effects

Be sure to discuss any side-effects with your veterinarian immediately.

Ranitidine is a very safe drug, and generally has very few side-effects. The most-common side effects seen in dogs or cats is mild diarrhea or GI upset.

Your veterinarian may prescribe this drug at a reduced dosage in older animals or in animals with kidney problems. Histamine H2 receptor antagonists have been known to cause some disorientation in older humans.


Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children. This drug should only be given to the animal for which it was prescribed. Do not give this medication to a person.Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.

Ranitidine should be used with caution in animals with decreased kidney function. It is concentrated in maternal milk, and should be used with caution in lactating animals.

Drug Interactions

Be sure to review with your veterinarian any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving.

Ranitidine may decrease the metabolism of acetaminophen. It may affect the levels of ketoconazole, itraconazole, metopropolol, nifedipine, propantheline, and vitamin B-12.


If you suspect your pet or another animal was overdosed accidentally or has eaten this medication inadvertently, contact your veterinarian or the A.S.P.C.A.'s Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435. Always bring the prescription container with you when you take your pet for treatment.

If you or someone else has accidentally ingested this medication call the National Capital Poison Center at 800.222.1222.


Different strengths or dosage forms of ranitidine may have different storage requirements. Read the labeling or ask your pharmacist for the storage requirements of the prescription you receive.
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