Cyclosporine for Dogs

An immunosuppressant drug approved by the FDA for oral use, Cyclosporine is prescribed to manage a wide range of inflammatory diseases in dogs. Presently oral Cyclosporine is recommended for treating atopic dermatitis, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), myasthenia gravis, sebaceous adenitis, perianal fistulae, and so on. Cyclosporine is an immunomodulatory medication that finds extensive applications for dealing with a broad spectrum of immune-mediated conditions and diseases.

In the US, oral Cyclosporine for dogs has been approved exclusively for treating and coping with atopic dermatitis. Nevertheless, the drug is also widely used as an off-label veterinary medicine for dealing with numerous other canine inflammatory disorders.

Cyclosporine at a Glance

Brand Name


Generic Name (Active ingredient)


Drug Type


Suitable for

Cats and dogs

FDA approval

Only for treating atopic dermatitis in dogs


As a prescription medication

Available form for giving to dogs



Cyclosporine: Clinical Pharmacokinetics Considerations

The major pharmacokinetic factors impinging on Cyclosporine's clinical use include hepatic metabolism, reduced absorption with food, and blood concentrations cresting after 2 hours of oral administration. Therefore vets recommend offering Cyclosporine should be given nothing less than 2 hours orally before a meal or after.

How does Cyclosporine Works in Canines?

Cyclosporine slows down the action of calcineurin, an enzyme, and modifies the resilient immune system by significantly restraining T-cell functioning. An effective Calcineurin inhibitor, Cyclosporine starts by tethering to the intracellular protein cyclophilin. The linkage with cyclophilin consequently slows up calcineurin's action by restraining its phosphatase activity, eventually negating T-cell cytokine function.

How Much Cyclosporine Should You Give to Your Dog?

Ensure to follow your vet's instructions while administering Cyclosporine, a prescription medication. The dosage recommended is usually 3-7 mg/kg (1.5-3mg/lb) based on your dog's weight, to be administered twice daily. Additionally, offer the drug at least 2 hours before or after a meal or the medication will not be adequately absorbed.

The duration of the medication's course, by and large, depends on the severity of the condition and responsiveness to treatment. Vets usually prescribe a 30-day course, following which you'll need to taper your dog off of the drug. You must continue with the course even when you observe a noticeable improvement in symptoms.

What are the Potential Side Effects of Cyclosporine?

Though Cyclosporine treatment therapy for dogs has numerous adverse effects, most side effects are rare, except GI effects. The common side effects of this immunosuppressant drug include upset stomach typified by diarrhea, vomiting, and anorexia. If you abide by the instructions outlined in the vet's prescription, you'll be able to avert the usual side effects.

According to one sizeable placebo-based field assay analysis, one set of dogs was administered a single 5mg dose of ultra micronized Cyclosporine while another group was on placebo. It was observed that the maximum number of dogs that received the medication vomited.

The other adverse effects noted included anorexia, diarrhea, persistent otitis externa, urinary tract infections, lymphadenopathy, and gingival hyperplasia. 

Your dog could also be allergic or sensitive to Cyclosporine, indicated by the animal's swollen face, tongue or lips, hives, and shortness of breath. Studies have also indicated that administering the medicine for a long time could cause certain types of cancer like lymphoma. As the drug suppresses the dog's immune system, the animal becomes highly susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections, especially in the urinary tract.

Cyclosporine Contraindications

Your vet will not prescribe the medication if your dog:-

  • Weighs less than 1.8kg (4 pounds)
  • Is sensitive or allergic to the drug
  • Has been diagnosed with neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth and development)
  • Has a preexisting condition such as a particular blood disorder, renal disease or abdominal ulcer
  • Is lactating or pregnant
  • It is less than six months old


Disclaimer: The above content is based on multiple research articles referred to online. Global Dog Breeds intends to share information, but it's strictly advised to consult a veterinarian and seek advice before using any medications described. We believe each condition and dog is unique, and only after careful evaluation from a qualified professional should you be offering any medications to your pet.

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