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Cerenia: Know The Side Effects

Just like people, dogs and cats can experience nausea and vomiting for a number of reasons. Whatever the cause, we likely don't have to tell you how awful it feels. The dry heaving, stomach pains, not fully understanding why... being sick is not ideal for anyone, including our furry friends.

Luckily, experts in the veterinary field realized that dogs and cats shouldn't suffer from the unpleasant realities of acute vomiting no more than we should and, in turn, developed a drug called Cerenia (Maropitant Citrate). In this article, we'll cover all there is to know about the medication and how it may be able to help your pet through their bout of distress. We will also discuss the potential side effects involved as well as alternatives that you may want to consider. Let's get to it!


What is Cerenia (Maropitant Citrate)

Cerenia is the first (and only) FDA-approved medication that veterinarians prescribe to treat vomiting in dogs and cats. Cerenia is also prescribed to prevent vomiting in dogs resulting from motion sickness.

We will first discuss all of the ways that Cerenia may help your dog and then move on to how your feline may also benefit from Cerenia. Although Cerenia serves as a treatment for vomiting in both dogs and cats, there are a few important differences that pet owners should understand.

What is Cerenia for Dogs Used For 

When it comes to your canine, Cerenia has a few extra ways in which it can help alleviate vomiting and nausea as well as ways that it can prevent the uneasiness before it starts.

Cernia for Motion Sickness 

Many dog owners can't bear the thought of leaving Fido behind as they travel the world. We understand, at Honest Paws, we are all dog owners and love taking our four-legged companions on every road trip imaginable. Unfortunately, some dogs don't necessarily love traveling as much as we might. In fact, studies show that an estimated one in five dogs suffers from motion sickness. In these cases, your veterinarian may prescribe Cerenia in order to ease the associated symptoms that arise from traveling. 

Signs of Motion Sickness in Dogs

We likely don't have to tell you that dogs aren't necessarily able to warn us before they throw up all over the back seat of the car. Furthermore, dogs are notorious for hiding pain and distress, making it even more difficult to foresee the messy event. With that being said, there are a few tell-tale signs of motion sickness that it is important to be aware of.


Of course, the most obvious symptom of motion sickness is vomiting. Many pet owners feel that if they withhold food before a car ride, they can eliminate the possibility of this motion sickness symptom. However, vomiting can even occur on an empty stomach.

Furthermore, vomiting is certainly not the only sign of motion sickness.

Excessive Drooling

If you see that your dog is drooling excessively, they are likely experiencing motion sickness. Additionally, dogs are highly sensitive animals and at times can experience symptoms prior to the active motion sickness kicking in. In some cases, the drooling may begin even before the car as started moving if the dog has an idea of what's in store.

drooling from cerenia

Dry Heaving

Your dog may also begin dry heaving and/or panting once in the car. Again, this is a symptom that can also occur prematurely if your dog recognizes that a car trip equates to feeling ill.


Many dogs will also show signs of uneasiness as well as a fear of cars. If your dog is whining, pacing, or showing that they are scared of what is to come, they are likely the one in five dogs that experience the unfortunate symptoms of motion sickness.

What Dogs Are Affected By Motion Sickness

As we previously stated, studies show that one in five dogs experience motion sickness, yet many pet owners wonder whether or not their dog may be more prone to it. Unfortunately, there are no real ways to determine whether or not your dog may be more likely to experience motion sickness other than taking them for a car ride and finding out. All breeds are susceptible as well as dogs of all ages and sizes.  

Luckily, Cerenia has shown to effectively alleviate as well as prevent nausea and vomiting in dogs associated with motion sickness.

Acute Vomiting 

Veterinarians also prescribe Cerenia to alleviate acute vomiting in dogs. Acute vomiting can occur for a number of reasons (which we will discuss momentarily) and can raise alarm for many pet owners. One reason why veterinarians prescribe Cerenia is to put a stop to the vomiting so that they are able to get to the bottom of whatever is causing it. Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration and further gastrointestinal upset. Cerenia can help alleviate the distress and prevent additional issues from arising as well as provide comfort for your dog and peace of mind for the dog owner.

While there are a slew of reasons why Fido may be vomiting, we want to cover a few of the most common. The more information that you are able to provide your veterinarian with, the quicker they will be able to accurately diagnose and treat the underlying reason for the acute vomiting.

cerenia is used to stop vomiting 

Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxicity and poisoning are among the most common reasons for sudden vomiting. Many dogs are known to be quite mischievous and get into things that can ultimately cause them harm. They are also equal opportunity eaters and are known to feast on just about anything. One of the first signs that your dog may have ingested something that they shouldn't have is sudden, acute vomiting.

While Cerenia may help reduce the amount of vomiting, additional treatment will likely be necessary to rid the body of the poisonous toxin.

Drug Interactions

Additionally, if your dog has recently been prescribed a new medication, acute vomiting may ensue as your dog's body adjusts. If this occurs it is extremely important to make sure your veterinarian is aware. Acute vomiting due to medications may also be a sign that your dog is having an allergic reaction or a negative interaction in which case the drug should be stopped.


In many cases, vomiting is considered to be a non-specific symptom of disease. Non-specific symptoms are those that are symptoms of many different underlying causes. For this reason, it is extremely important that your veterinarian rules out any possibility of disease in order to prevent additional issues from arising. While Cerenia can alleviate the symptom of disease, it merely acts as a bandaid. It will not cure the disease.

Changes in Diet

While many dogs love eating things that they shouldn't, they prove to be picky eaters when it comes to their own food. For this reason, dog owners find themselves constantly switching it up and adding variety into their pup's life. However, if you find yourself doing this it is imperative that you transition slowly! Switching up your dog's food too quickly can lead to acute vomiting that can easily be prevented.


Acute vomiting is also a telltale sign of intestinal parasites. As you can see, while vomiting can be something that is a rather "easy fix," it can also be a major cause for concern. This is where Cerenia can help alleviate the symptom while your veterinarian uncovers the underlying issue at hand.  


Finally, acute vomiting may occur from different forms of stress including separation anxiety. For some dogs, the idea of their owner leaving the house for any amount of time can mean a full-on panic attack. The sad reality can leave many pet owners not knowing how to proceed (let alone have any semblance of a social life). Luckily, in these cases, Cerenia can help.

What Else to Look For

Again, the more information that you are able to provide your vet with, the sooner they will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

If acute vomiting occurs, make sure you also look for whether the following additional symptoms are also present:

  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)
  • Blood in vomit
  • Excessive lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in urine or stool

Prevention of Vomiting Before Surgery

Finally, Cerenia also works to prevent vomiting prior to surgery in cases where opioids are used as a pre-anesthetic. In these cases, Cerenia is given prior to surgery and helps prevent an adverse reaction to the opioids.

Cerenia Side Effects for Dogs

Like all conventional drugs, Cerenia does have potential adverse reactions that dog owners should be aware of.

While studies show that most dogs react fine to the drug, the following side of effects of Cerenia have been reported over the last 10 years:

  • Lethargy and drowsiness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain at the injection site (when it comes to the injectable form of Cerenia)

decreased appetite in dogs from cerenia

In terms of treating motion sickness in dogs, experts recommend giving the medication an appropriate "trial run" before committing to it for a long trip. The last thing that you want to do is rely on Cerenia for preventing vomiting only to find that it causes your dog to have uncontrollable bouts of diarrhea.  

Additionally, Cerenia should not be administered to dogs under 16 weeks old or those who have pre-existing liver conditions. As always, it is extremely important to make sure that your veterinarian is implicitly aware of any allergies or pre-existing health issues before prescribing any new medication.

Administering Cerenia for Dogs

There are two ways that Cerenia is administered in dogs: tablet form and injectable form.

Cerenia Tablets for Motion Sickness

Unlike cats, dogs can take Cerenia tablets to prevent the associated symptoms of motion sickness. Experts recommend giving your dog the appropriate dosage of Cerenia 2 hours prior to getting into the car. Make sure to give the medication with a small amount of food to prevent an upset stomach. Dog owners can give their pup Cerenia once a day for up to 2 days in a row for the prevention of motion sickness. As always, your veterinarian should be the one to tell you the exact dose that will suit your dog's individual needs.

Cerenia Injectable

Cerenia is also available in injection form for both dogs and cats suffering from acute vomiting. The injection should only be administered by a trained veterinary professional.

Cerenia for Cats

Now, let's get into Cerenia for cats. While it also treats acute vomiting, it shouldn't be used in all of the ways we mentioned in dogs.

Acute Vomiting

Like its major benefit for our canine friend, Cerenia is also the one and only FDA approved medication to treat acute vomiting in cats.

Comparable to dogs, acute vomiting in cats can occur for several reasons, ranging in severity. It is incredibly important to get to the bottom of what is causing your cat to have sudden, acute bouts of nausea and vomiting. While the underlying cause may be something mild, it may be a sign of infection, disease, or parasites.

Vomiting: What Else to Look For

Also comparable to dogs, it is important for cat owners to give their veterinarian as much information as possible in order to quickly diagnose and treat their cat's condition.

Cat owners must also take note of whether the following symptoms are present:

  • Dyhdration
  • Diarrhea or changes in stool
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decreased energy

cerenia for cats

How to Administer Cerenia for Cats: Cerenia Injectable

Cerenia for cats is only available in as an injectable solution. It is imperative that pet owners who have both cats and dogs do not mistakingly give both of their animals the same medication, even if they are both experiencing the same symptoms. The Cerenia injectable should only be administered by a trained veterinary professional.

Cerenia Tablets = Not for Cats!

According to Cerenia's website, tablets should not be given to cats. Cerenia tablets have only been approved for canines whereas the injection can be used for both cats and dogs. With that said, there are veterinarians who will still prescribe Cerenia tablets for cats. We just want you to be aware of what the actual prescription recommends. At the end of the day, it is your call.

Cerenia Side Effects for Cats

Side effects of Cerenia for cats are comparable to those found in dogs. However, because of the fact that the only kind of Cerenia that is safe for cats is in its injectable form, the leading side effect is a significant amount of pain at the injection site.

Alternatives Treatment Options for Dogs and Cats

While Cerenia for dogs and cats proves to be effective at treating and preventing nausea and vomiting, it is certainly not the only option that pet owners have.

Preventing Motion Sickness in Dogs

When it comes to treating our four-legged friends, we truly believe that prevention is the best medicine. Keeping all of the aforementioned information in mind, we have some good news. There are ways to help prevent motion sickness in dogs.

Experts have found that the following approaches can do wonders for a dog suffering from motion sickness.

  • First, make sure that your dog feels secure. We recommend purchasing a safety seat for your dog so that they aren't sliding across your back seat with every turn. Additionally, if your dog is going to be sitting in the front passenger seat, make sure that the seat is buckled in as far away from the dashboard as possible. You may also want to consider disabling the passenger side airbag as it can cause a significant amount of harm to your dog.
  • Next, make sure that the car is kept cool during rides, no matter the distance. Dogs can quickly overheat on car trips, particularly if they are experiencing symptoms of motion sickness. It is important to keep your dog as comfortable as possible.
  • Also, rolling down the windows a few inches will help equalize the inside and outside air pressures.
  • Experts also recommend limiting the amount of food given directly before a car trip. Of course, if you are administering Cerenia 2 hours prior then it should be given with food.
  • Next, treats and toys are key! You want to create positive associations with taking rides in the car. Many times, treats and your dog's favorite toy can make a great difference.
  • Speaking of positive associations, take your dog on trips to places they enjoy, like the dog park. If a car trip always results in going to the vet, it's no wonder they aren't jumping for joy at the thought of it.
  • Finally, start off slowly. Ease your dog into the idea of a long car ride by starting off with short rides around the neighborhood that end up back home.

Cerenia: Not A Cure for Acute Vomiting

Again, we want to reiterate that when it comes to using Cerenia to alleviate acute vomiting, it is not a cure for the underlying condition at hand. Many pet owners want immediate relief for their pet's vomiting (which we totally understand), however, it is imperative that you treat the condition that is causing the vomiting to occur in the first place. Cerenia will not cure something like intestinal parasites or renal disease. It is up to you and your veterinarian to get to the bottom of why your dog or cat is experiencing bouts of sudden, acute sickness.

cbd for pets is better than cerenia

Cerenia: A Final Thought

At the end of the day, we can all emphasize with the fact that nausea and vomiting are no fun for anyone, including our beloved fur babies. The development of Cerenia has proven to make a substantial difference in the lives of many cats and dogs who experience sudden, acute episodes of vomiting. With that said, we want our readers to understand that while the medication is certainly useful, there are alternative ways to not only treat vomiting but also prevent it from occurring in the first place. The more pet parents know about their options, the better equipped they will be at making sure they are making the best decision for their pets' wellbeing.


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