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Azathioprine for Dogs and Cats: Cancer Drug Guide

Read About this Cancer Medication, Including Azathioprine Side Effects

By Team PetCareRx. May 22, 2013

Azathioprine Bottle - Pills


indications for Azathioprine

Azathioprine is an immunosuppressive drug, which belongs to the class of anticancer drugs and is normally used to treat autoimmune diseases including those involving the skin, blood, or multiple body systems. Some of the diseases that could be effectively treated with this medicine include hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, arthritis, chronic liver inflammation, inflammatory bowel diseases and myasthenia gravis. It influences the metabolism of lymphocytes thereby suppressing the normal immunity of the animals along with lessening the production of essential blood cells.

Precautions

As azathioprine is a powerful immunosuppressive drug, prescription and administration of this drug should be done with utmost care. Animals allergic to Azathioprine should not be treated with this medication. Cats in particular are highly vulnerable to its immuno suppressant actions; hence should only be given very low doses, that too only if found extremely essential. Azathioprine could interact with other medications such as some muscle relaxants and allopurinolDogs and cats could be susceptible to azathioprine as they do not have enzymes to metabolize azathioprine. So it is recommended to get their blood tests done regularly to verify the number of blood cells.

Dosage

Azathioprine comes in 50 mg tablet forms. The normal dosage for dogs is 0.5 to 1.0 mg per pound (1 to 2 mg/kg) administered orally on a daily basis. Cats could be given 0.15 mg per pound (0.3 mg/kg) daily.

Side Effects

Though it is normally safe when prescribed by a veterinarian, azathioprine can have side effects in some animals. Symptoms like lethargy, fever, and loss of appetite should be brought to the notice of the veterinarian immediately. It is common for the animals on azathioprine to develop transient diarrhea, which should be of no concern unless the diarrhea continues for long. In some animals, vomiting due to the drug-induced condition of pancreatitis is also seen, which should be attended to promptly.

Brand/Generic equivalents

Imuran (human formulation)

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Azathioprine at a glance

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  • 1For dogs and cats
  • 2An immunosuppressive medication
  • 3An oral medication
  • 4Treats autoimmune diseases, cancer, arthritis, liver inflammation, and inflammatory bowel diseases