Canine Zantac

Kelly Roper
Vet examining a Dachshund

Officially, there's no such thing as a canine formulation of Zantac. Although this medication is primarily used to treat people, it has occasionally been used to treat dogs as well.

How Zantac Is Used for Dogs

Zantac is actually the commercial name for a drug called Ranitidine. Ranitidine belongs to a group of drugs known as H2 receptor antagonists. As an H2 receptor antagonist, Zantac is traditionally used to treat stomach ulcers by reducing the amount of acid produced in the chamber. This can help heal active ulcers as well as prevent new lesions from forming. The drug is also used to treat cases of aid reflux, gastritis and other inflammations of the esophagus and digestive tract.

Gastric Disturbances

Zantac is used to treat the same kind of stomach and esophageal problems in dogs as in people. Some owners are also interested in using Zantac as a preventative measure to guard against a bout of bloat. Bloat, otherwise known as torsion, is a highly painful and life threatening condition that is very prevalent in breeds such as German Shepherds and Poodles.

Although the exact cause of torsion is not yet known, the condition produces abnormal muscle movement of the stomach during digestion. The stomach actually twists, closing itself off at its entry and exit points. This traps swallowed air, digestive acids and food particles in an enclosed environment where they begin to ferment. The stomach then begins to "bloat" from the accumulation of gases produced.

It's not yet clear whether using Zantac to prevent bloat would do more harm than good, so vets are cautious about the drug's use. They do occasionally prescribe it to settle the stomach long enough for irritation to subside.


A dental study conducted in 2002 suggested that using Ranitidine in an oral rinse or tablet form may also provide significant relief of gum inflammation associated with canine gingivitis.

Dosage for Dogs

Giving dog his daily pill

When giving your dog Zantac, it's important to understand that people and dogs do not share the same dosage rates. Typically, dogs will need a smaller dosage administered less often, unless the dog is exceptionally large. Walker Valley Vet offers a basic dosage guideline based on a dog's weight:

  • Less than 20 pounds should only take 1/4 tablet
  • 20 to 60 pounds can take 1/4 to 1/2 tablet
  • Over 60 pounds can take the whole tablet

These dosages are given twice daily.

If you are considering giving Zantac to your dog, it's safer to schedule an appointment with your vet to get his/her professional opinion. Allow your vet to diagnose your pet's abdominal discomfort and then decide on the right course of treatment. If your vet agrees that Zantac would be useful as well as safe, he/she will calculate the exact dosage for your pet, as well as how often to give your dog the medication.

Possible Side-Effects

According to Pets MD, Zantac use can produce unfavorable side effects if the dog receives too much medication or is on the drug for a prolonged period.

Typical side-effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Quick, shallow breathing
  • Muscle spasms

Ranitidine/Zantac has also been known to cause an allergic reaction in some dogs. Signs include:

  • Itching and scratching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums related to shock
  • Heat loss in legs and paws
  • Unconsciousness

Zantac usage is not recommended for dogs previously diagnosed with kidney, liver or heart disease. Additionally, any dog receiving this medication for a prolonged time should be monitored for possible liver damage throughout the course of treatment.

Always Check with Your Vet Before Sharing Your Medication

Vet with dog and owner

Like many of the medications given to dogs, Zantac was developed for human usage. However, resourceful veterinarians often adapt human medications for use in dogs, such as found with the medication Paxil.

A veterinarian has the extensive training and medical knowledge to form an educated opinion about the effect a particular medication might have on your pet. If you do ever consider sharing your medications with your pet, be sure to check with your vet first.

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Canine Zantac