Should You Give Your Cat Chlorpheniramine?

If you didn’t already know, Chlorpheniramine is a type of antihistamine commonly used to treat allergic conditions. It’s also occasionally used as a mild sedative. In people, it’s typically used to alleviate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and the common cold. In animals, it’s prescribed for off label use in the treatment of allergic skin disease. Although its success rate with dogs is somewhat negligible, it’s generally considered one of the most reliable (not to mention most widely available and affordable) antihistamines for cats. According to one study referenced by, a significant 73% of cats with itchy skin responded to its use. So, should you be giving your cat chlorpheniramine? And if you do, what do you need to know about dosage, side effects, and possible contraindications?

What Can Chlorpheniramine Treat?

Chlorpheniramine is generally prescribed to treat the symptoms of allergies. These can include itchy skin, sneezing, and runny nose. It’s also a popular treatment for atopy, a relatively common condition in cats that can result in excessively itchy and inflamed skin. Although a quick acting remedy, it’s more typically used as a long term, preventive treatment than a short-term solution to acute conditions.

Is Chlorpheniramine Safe?

No medicine is completely safe, but some carry less risk than other. Fortunately, chlorpheniramine can be used up to the recommended dose without too much concern about side effects. Which isn’t to say there aren’t any at all. As you’d expect of a medicine that’s used as a mild sedative in people, the most common side effect of chlorpheniramine is sleepiness. At least in humans. In cat’s, the effects are rather different, with excitement and restlessness two of the most common indications. Other less common side effects to note include an upset stomach, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and difficulty in urinating. Such symptoms are mild and will generally pass without requiring intervention. However, chlorpheniramine has also been linked to the more serious side effects of muscle tremors, breathing difficulties, seizures, lack of coordination, and in extreme cases, even coma. If you are treating your cat with chlorpheniramine for the first time, monitor their behavior closely: if they begin to display any troubling signs, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Although some side effects of chlorpheniramine are very worrying, bear in mind that they’re also very rare. Most cats tolerate chlorpheniramine very well, and will show no ill effects provided the recommended dosage isn’t exceeded.

Is Chlorpheniramine Suitable For All Cats?

Not all cats are suitable candidates for chlorpheniramine treatment. As well as posing an allergy risk to certain cats, it should either be avoided or be used only under direct veterinary supervision in animals with raised blood pressure, glaucoma, prostate problems, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal or bladder obstruction, hyperthyroidism, or COPD. Caution should also be exercised in administering it to geriatric, pregnant or lactating cats.

Is It Dangerous To Combine Chlorpheniramine With Other Treatments?

Even if your cat has taken chlorpheniramine in the past, be cautious about administering it if they’ve since been prescribed other supplements or medicines. As notes, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (commonly found in tick prevention treatments and products aimed at cognitive dysfunction such as selegiline) can increase the likelihood of side effects such as increased thirst and urination difficulties when used alogside chlorpheniramine. Any ‘combination’ products aimed at people which combine chlorpheniramine with pain relievers and decongestants should be avoided, as should the use of other treatments with sedative effects. While omega 3 fatty acids can be safely used in conjunction with chlorpheniramine (and can even complement its anti-inflammatory effects), use caution when combining it with any other vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies. Before beginning chlorpheniramine treatment, speak to your vet about any medicines your cat may already be using to minimize any possible negative interactions.

How Do I Amdminster Chlorpheniramine?

As notes, chlorpheniramine is typically administered orally in the form of a tablet, liquid syrup, or liquid drops. It can be given with food or without it, but some cats may experience vomiting if it’s taken on an empty stomach. Administering chlorpheniramine to pets can be difficult due to its bitter, unpalatable taste. It can be especially difficult in cats who, even at the best of times, are loathe to take pills. If you experience issues in administering the medicine, you might find some of these tips helpful:

  • If the chlorpheniramine is in liquid form, try mixing it with some strong-smelling wet food, broth, or tuna juice. Cats are ruled by their sense of smell to a lesser extent than dogs, but are still more likely to take their medicine if the smell is disguised.
  • Use a dropper to add a small amount of a pre-measured dose onto your cat’s nose. Once they’ve licked it off, repeat the process until the dose has been administered in full.
  • Grip the pill between your thumb and index finger and place your middle finger into the cat’s mouth, over the small incisor teeth. Drop the pill as far back on their tongue as possible, then quickly close their mouth. Massage the base of their neck to encourage swallowing. Always ensure they have access to fresh water immediately afterwards.
  • Use a syringe to introduce the medicine directly into your cat’s mouth – be sure to restrain your cat in a towel first to limit the chance of them injuring you.

Some methods recommend you crush or split the tablets to make swallowing easier. Before you do this, always check with your vet if it’s advisable. If the chlorpheniramine is in the form of an extended release tablet, breaking the tablets could result in a loss of efficacy. In these cases, your vet may be able to prescribe a liquid form instead.

What Should I Do If I Forget A Dose?

As chlorpheniramine has culminative effects, try to stick as closely to the scheduled dose times as possible. If you miss a dose by just a marginal amount, administer it as soon as you remember. If it’s closer to the next dose than the one you missed, simply skip the missed dose – don’t be tempted to double on the dose as this can increase the possibility of adverse side effects.

What’s The Correct Dosage Of Chlorpheniramine?

Although you should always read the instructions that come with the pack, cats will usually require 1-4 milligrams by mouth every 8-12 hours.

Where Should I Store Chlorpheniramine?

Like most medicines, chlorpheniramine does best in a room temperature environment. Tablets should be kept in a sealed container away from moisture, while liquid forms should be kept away from direct light.

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