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Sucralfate

Veterinarians prescribe different treatments for digestive discomfort depending on the underlying cause of the issue and its severity. If your dog or cat is experiencing abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting or bloody stools due to ulcers, your veterinarian might prescribe sucralfate medication. Read on for information on this drug and why it could be the key to relieving your pet’s digestive discomfort.

What is the drug sucralfate used for?

Sucralfate medication is primarily used to treat ulcers. If ulcers are the underlying cause of your pet’s digestive trouble, sucralfate might be just what they need to help lessen their symptoms and allow their digestive tract to heal.

Ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the digestive tract. When they’re irritated or inflamed, they can cause abdominal pain, cramps, acid reflux, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and dark or bloody stool. Medications like sucralfate for cats and dogs can help relieve symptoms in the short term and aid the healing of ulcers that cause these symptoms.

Sucralfate works by binding to an ulcer and forming a protective coating over it. This barrier helps prevent the ulcer from becoming irritated, which can give your pet some relief from symptoms. While your pet enjoys relief from their digestive issues, the ulcer is protected and can start to heal.

Your veterinarian will prescribe sucralfate medication following examination and diagnosis of a condition appropriate for this treatment. Your veterinarian will need to determine if an ulcer is the cause of your pet’s digestive issues, and they will also need to prescribe the correct dosage of medicine.

What does sucralfate do for a dog?

If your veterinarian determines that the underlying cause of your dog’s digestive distress is an ulcer, they might prescribe sucralfate for dogs. Sucralfate medication coats ulcers with a protective barrier, allowing them to heal while helping to relieve pain and discomfort. If your dog has a history of ulcers, sucralfate for dogs may be prescribed as a preventive measure, particularly if they’re already taking a medication whose side effects include an increased chance of developing ulcers. When used in this way, sucralfate helps protect the digestive tract from developing painful ulcers, which can prevent the symptoms described above from occurring at all.

Sucralfate is administered orally and is available in both tablet and liquid forms. Sometimes it’s recommended that sucralfate tablets be crushed and mixed with water, but of course you should check with your vet first. The drug is typically given every 6 to12 hours, and a regimen may last up to 4 to 8 weeks. Your dog’s symptoms might start to improve within weeks or even days of beginning a regimen of sucralfate medication. Still, you should keep giving your dog sucralfate as long as your veterinarian advises to ensure your dog’s ulcers have enough time to heal.

Sucralfate side effects in dogs are very rare. Occasionally, providing sucralfate for dogs’ diarrhea can have the unintended effect of causing constipation, but this is uncommon. In most cases, sucralfate minimizes gastric distress caused by ulcers with no discernible negative side effects.

Can I give sucralfate with food?

Sucralfate works by coating the ulcer in your pet’s digestive tract and protecting it during digestion. It needs to be in your pet’s system before they start eating. Because of this, sucralfate should be given on an empty stomach, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before a meal. Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions. While it’s admittedly easier to give pets medicine that’s hidden in food, it’s important to let sucralfate do its job and coat your pet’s ulcer before they dig into their dinner.

How do I give a cat sucralfate?

The answer, in short, is deliberately and carefully. The first step depends on whether your sucralfate for cats is in liquid or tablet form. If you’re administering a tablet, crush the pill and dissolve it in a small amount of water. If it’s a liquid suspension, shake it well. Once you have your properly liquified sucralfate medication, one option is to use a needle-free oral syringe. After filling the syringe with liquid sucralfate or your homemade dissolved tablet slurry, hold your cat gently and securely, then carefully insert the syringe into the corner of their mouth while gently holding their head. Position the syringe so that the medication runs down the side of your cat’s tongue and mouth. Squirting the medicine directly to the back of their throat may cause them to gag. Depress the plunger slowly and stroke your cat’s throat to encourage swallowing. While this technique will likely take some practice, it may be the most effective way to make sure your clever cat gets the sucralfate medication they need. If you run into trouble, consult your vet.

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Reviewed by Dr. Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, DACVPM

As Petco’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Miller is the lead veterinary subject matter expert, overseeing the company’s standards of excellence in animal care and welfare, growth in pet services and much more. Dr. Miller leads Petco’s medical team, supporting over 200 full-service hospitals and mobile vaccination clinics operating in over 1,000 Petco Pet Care Centers nationwide