Overview of Docusate Sodium (Colace®) for Canines and Felines
- Docusate sodium is commonly known as Colace® and is used as a laxative to treat constipation for dogs and cats. Docusate sodium is commonly shorted and simply called “Docusate”.
- Docusate sodium belongs to the class of drugs known as stimulant laxatives. Docusate salts work by reducing surface tension which allows water and fat to interact with food in the stomach and feces which results in softening the stool.
- Docusate sodium is available without a prescription but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian. Some pets will appear to strain which can look like constipation but is actually can be a life-threatening urinary obstruction or colitis.
- This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.
Brand Names and Other Names of Docusate Sodium
- Human formulations: There are several different trade name products for docusate. Two common ones are Colace® (sodium salt) and Surfak® (calcium salt).
- Veterinary formulations include:
o Docusate Sodium Enema Dioctynate®
o Docusate Sodium Enema: Pet-Enema®, Enema SA®, Docu-Soft® Enema
o Docusate sodium oral liquid under various names.
Uses of Docusate Sodium for Dogs and Cats
- Docusate Sodium is used to stimulate bowel movements in animals with constipation or when there is a need to empty the large intestine for surgery or for diagnostic procedures such as colonoscopy.
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, docusate sodium can cause side effects in some animals.
- Docusate sodium should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- Docusate sodium should not be used in animals with gastrointestinal obstructions, rectal bleeding or a tear in the intestinal wall (perforation).
- Docusate sodium may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with Docusate sodium. Such drugs include certain antacids. Diarrhea, cramping and nausea may be seen after the drug is given.
How Docusate Sodium Is Supplied
- Docusate sodium is available in 100 oral mg tablets, 50 mg, 100 mg, and 250 mg Oral Capsules & Soft-gel Capsules, 50 mg/5 mL Oral Syrup/Liquid, and 240 mg capsules.
- Docusate Sodium is available in various enema type solutions including 250 mg in 12 mL syringes and 5% water miscible solution in 1-gallon containers.
Dosing Information of Docusate Sodium for Dogs and Cats
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
- Docusate sodium should be given on an empty stomach or at least one hour before eating or two hours after eating.
- In dogs, the dose most commonly used varies depending on the size of the dog.
- Small dogs - 25 to 50 mg/dog every 12 to 24 hours (once to twice daily)
- Medium sized dogs - 50 to 100 mg/dog every 12 to 24 hours (once to twice daily)
- Large dogs - 100 to 200 mg dog every 12 to 24 hours (once to twice daily)
- Doses up to 250 mg once daily has been documented for us in giant breed large dogs.
- In cats, the dose most commonly used is 50 mg per cat once daily.
- The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.
- Plumb's Veterinary Handbook by Donald C. Plumb, 8th Edition
- Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Ettinger & Felman
- Current Veterinary Therapy XV, Bonagura and Twedt
- ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline
- Pet Poison Helpline
- Blikslager, A. & S. Jones. Obstructive disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Equine Internal Medicine 2nd Ed. S. Reed, W. Bayly and D. Sellon. Philadelphia, Saunders. 2004.