- Medication type: Gastroprotectant (ulcer medication)
- Form: Liquid, Tablet
- Prescription required? Yes
- FDA approved? No. Sucralfate is FDA-approved for use in humans but is used off-label in veterinary medicine.
- Brand names: Carafate, Antepsin, Sulcrate
- Common names: Sucralfate, Carafate
- Available dosages: 1 gram tablet; 100 mg/ml suspension; 200 mg/ml suspension
- Expiration range: 2 years
If your dog has been diagnosed with esophagitis or gastrointestinal ulcers, your veterinarian may prescribe sucralfate. This ulcer medication for dogs (called a gastroprotectant) is designed to coat the intestinal tract, preventing and treating gastrointestinal ulcers.
What is Sucralfate?
Sucralfate was first introduced as an ulcer medication for human patients in 1968, although it did not receive FDA approval in the United States until 1981. Sucralfate is labeled for the treatment of duodenal (upper small intestinal) ulcers, but this medication has also been used to treat ulcers at other locations throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
Sucralfate is readily available in both brand-name and generic formulations. It is commonly used in veterinary medicine and can be found on the shelves of most veterinary practices in the United States.
If your veterinarian does not stock this medication, they can write you a prescription to obtain the medication through your local (human) pharmacy.
What Does Sucralfate Look Like?
Sucralfate is typically dispensed as a relatively large, white or pink oval tablet that is scored in the center. It is also available as a suspension, or liquid, although this formulation is less commonly prescribed by veterinarians. Sucralfate suspension has a light pink or white color.
How Does Sucralfate for Dogs Work?
Sucralfate works primarily by coating a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. It will coat the surfaces of both ulcers and healthy gastrointestinal tissue, acting as a “band aid” that protects against stomach acid and other irritants.
What Is Sucralfate Used For in Dogs?
Sucralfate is typically administered when a dog has gastrointestinal ulcers, or is thought to be at a high risk of developing gastrointestinal ulcers. Whether a dog has esophageal ulcers due to gastric reflux or is at risk of ulcers due to an overdose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, sucralfate is often prescribed for its protective benefits on the gastrointestinal lining. It may also be used post-operatively in patients undergoing intestinal surgery or those who have been vomiting.
Common sucralfate uses include the treatment of:
- Esophageal ulcers
- Stomach ulcers
- Intestinal ulcers
- Ingestion of toxins that may cause gastrointestinal ulceration
- Kidney failure (which may cause gastrointestinal ulcers)
How to Give Sucralfate to Dogs
Your veterinarian will advise you on how to administer your dog’s sucralfate, depending on which area of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract requires protection. When sucralfate is intended to act on the stomach or intestines, sucralfate tablets can usually be given intact (like a normal pill). They will break up in the stomach’s acidic environment and coat the walls of the stomach, as well as the remainder of the intestinal tract.
If your dog has lesions in the esophagus, however, giving an intact tablet will offer no significant benefits. The tablet will not begin to dissolve until it reaches your dog’s stomach. Therefore, many veterinarians recommend a “sucralfate slurry” for dogs with known or potential esophageal ulcers.
Giving sucralfate in a slurry involves crushing your dog’s sucralfate and then dissolving it in a small amount of water. After mixing this solution thoroughly, use a syringe to administer the mixture to your dog, by mouth.
Sucralfate works best on an empty stomach.
Sucralfate Side Effects in Dogs
Sucralfate side effects are rarely seen, because it remains in the intestines and is not absorbed into the bloodstream. In humans, the most commonly reported side effect is constipation. Allergic reactions may occur, but these are rare.
Reactions With Other Drugs and Medications
Sucralfate can decrease the absorption of numerous medications, including digoxin, thyroxine, and some antibiotics. This effect is caused by sucralfate binding to the medication, preventing absorption. You can avoid this interaction by administering other medications two hours prior to your dog’s sucralfate dose.
Sucralfate works best when your dog’s stomach is acidic. Therefore, it’s best to give sucralfate 30 minutes prior to any antacid medications that your pet may be receiving.
Sucralfate Dosage for Dogs
Sucralfate doses are based on the patient’s size and the condition that is being treated. Most dogs receive ½ to 1 tablet of sucralfate every 6-12 hours, but your veterinarian will determine the optimal dose and frequency for your dog.
If your pet is on any medications (including vitamins or other over-the-counter supplements), talk to your veterinarian to determine the best dosing schedule for your dog. Careful consideration of medication timing can ensure that your dog receives the maximum benefits of both sucralfate and their other medications.
What if My Dog Misses a Dose of Sucralfate?
If your dog misses a dose of sucralfate, continue giving the remaining doses as directed. There is no need to “double up” after a missed dose.
Cost of Sucralfate for Dogs
Sucralfate is a relatively inexpensive medication, typically costing less than $1/dose. Generic forms may cost less than brand-name forms.
Sucralfate Storage Instructions
Sucralfate tablets and sucralfate suspension stored at room temperature, on your counter or in a cabinet. No refrigeration is needed.