Pet Medications to Learn About: How Does Cerenia Kill a Dog?

Pet Care


August 23, 2023

Cerenia is a prescription medication that is often prescribed to treat vomiting in dogs, but unfortunately, a handful of dogs have died while taking this medicine.

It is usually only given to dogs with acute vomiting, not for light sickness, and it is only given to dogs and no other animals. There are certain dogs it should not be given to, including dogs that are pregnant or nursing.

This article will explore the medication itself and how you can prevent it from harming your own dog.

What Is Cerenia and How Does It Work?

Before we get into the serious stuff, let’s first take a look at what Cerenia is and how it works. As mentioned already, Cerenia is a prescription medicine that stops acute vomiting in dogs.

It is available in two forms: oral and injectable. It works by blocking a chemical in the brain called substance P, which is the chemical that induces vomiting.

The active ingredient in Cerenia is one called maropitant citrate, which is classified as a neurokinin-1 (NK-1) receptor antagonist.

By blocking substance P, the drug can greatly reduce or even eliminate vomiting in dogs. The medication has also been given to dogs with motion sickness and is considered a safe medicine to give them. Nevertheless, there have been deaths associated with Cerenia.

How Does Cerenia Kill a Dog? Things You Should Look For?

First of all, if you make sure your dog gets a complete checkup by a vet and you tell the vet all about its medical conditions, this drug is very unlikely to harm your dog.

Make sure you let the vet know if your dog has any severe kidney or liver disease, which they should be able to ascertain with the checkup anyway. Nevertheless, always be honest with your vet about your dog’s health.

That being said, when a pet parent notices that the “possibility of death” is a potential side effect of a drug, it can be a cause for alarm. Just how did Cerenia end up killing a handful of dogs? Most often, it was by way of three different possibilities:

  1. It enters the bloodstream quickly and then the brain next, where it kills the dog.
  2. It is given to the dog intravenously through the veins.
  3. It can be inhaled, much like a pregnant woman who inhales cigarettes.

To be honest, the numbers of deaths by Cerenia aren’t as high as you are probably thinking they are by now.

In fact, one study of 206 dogs receiving the drug showed a death rate of ten dogs, which is only 4.9%. Ironically, another similar study of 69 dogs showed that four dogs died who were only given a placebo, which is 5.8% of the dogs studied.

Could It Be Something Else?

The number of dogs dying after receiving Cerenia is thought by many to be the result of the dogs’ underlying conditions.

You should also realize that in order to increase the safety of the drug, your dog needs a full checkup by a licensed vet, as well as a prescription by the same. When all is said and done, the chance of your dog dying from this drug is very slim.

This is why that visit to your veterinarian is so important. Always discuss with your vet the concerns you may have about giving your dog Cerenia.

The more information your vet has, the more confident you can feel about them prescribing Cerenia or any other anti-vomiting medication. The dosage is also important, but a competent vet will make sure it is right for your dog.

A dosage that is too high can cause respiratory problems and even symptoms such as swelling, itching, and problems breathing. Always take your dog to the animal hospital immediately if these things occur.

It could be that the dose was too high, or it could merely mean that your dog is having an allergic reaction to the drug. Either way, immediate help is necessary.

No Need to Worry Too Much

If your vet has prescribed Cerenia for your dog, don’t panic just because you’ve read this article. Keep in mind that death from any medication is very rare, and you can do things to increase the odds that your dog will be just fine.

But your pet can die due to an overdose, a sensitivity to the drug, or even because it interacted with some of their other medications.

In short, the best way to avoid this from happening is to be honest with your vet, make sure your dog gets a complete checkup, and always give the dog the dose prescribed and not a different dose.

Naturally, you want to make sure your vet is reputable and licensed, although it is rare that the vet is the cause of the dog’s death.

Finally, always discuss your concerns with your vet before agreeing to put your dog on any medication. With all of your bases covered, you should be fine.


Cerenia is a prescription medication for dogs that eases or eliminates acute vomiting. It is also used for motion sickness, but some dogs have died while receiving the medication.

If you look at the numbers, they are very low, but if you’re concerned about your own dog, make sure they get a checkup with a reputable vet and always use the prescription as prescribed.

Any concerns you have about Cerenia should be discussed with your vet, because this is the only way to make sure the prescription is appropriate for your dog.