What Are the Side Effects of Sucralfate in Canines?

By Jane Meggitt

If your dog is diagnosed with ulcers, it's possible your veterinarian will prescribe sucralfate for treatment. Your vet might also prescribe it to protect your dog from ulcers if he must receive potentially ulcer-causing medication, or if he's accidentally eaten a human aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. One advantage of sucralfate is the drug's relatively few side effects.

How Sucralfate Works

Marketed under the brand name Carafate, sucralfate is a compound of sucrose aluminum hydroxide. It works by coating the gastrointestinal tract, covering and helping to heal any ulcerations. Since it passes through the system fairly quickly, dogs usually need two or more doses of the drug daily. Available in tablet and liquid forms, sucralfate needs to be given to your dog on an empty stomach. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved sucralfate for use in people, veterinarians are permitted to prescribe it under an "extra-label" designation.

Side Effects

Constipation is the only common side effect associated with sucralfate administration. If your dog is prone to constipation, tell your vet. If your pet suffers from megacolon -- an enlarged colon resulting from long-term constipation and feces retention -- he shouldn't receive sucralfate. If your dog develops constipation after receiving sucralfate, call your vet as soon as possible. She might switch him to another medication or recommend dietary changes to get your dog moving again. Once the dog no longer takes sucralfate, his bowel movements should return to normal.

Sucralfate Allergies

Some dogs may prove allergic to sucralfate. Signs of an allergic reaction include breathing difficulties or hives. Severely affected dogs might experience seizures or fainting. If your dog experiences signs of an allergic reaction, bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible and don't give your dog another dose of the drug.

Drug Interactions

If your dog receives certain medications, he should not receive sucralfate or you must take special care in spacing out administration of the drugs. Let your vet know of any other medications or supplements your dog receives. Sucralfate can interact with various antibiotics, including tetracycline, azithromycin, doxycycline and erythromycin. It also interacts with other drugs, such as thyroxine for hypothyroidism, digoxin for heart disease and cimetidine for stomach acid issues. Cimetidine is another drug used to treat ulcers in canines. However, sucralfate can't work without adequate stomach acid in the digestive system. Your vet can work out a dosing schedule if your dog must receive these other medications in conjunction with sucralfate.