Major Uses

Meperidine is an opiate agonist and analgesic used for sedation and to treat pain, such as that associated with surgery, pancreatitis, and thermal burns. The effects of this medication are very similar to those produced by morphine. Meperidine may also be used as a cough suppressant.

This drug is primarily used in cats and dogs, although it may be used in horses to treat colic and other pain. Meperidine is a schedule II controlled substance and its use is regulated by the DEA. It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in animals, but it may be prescribed legally as an extra-label drug by veterinarians.

Common Precautions

Side effects associated with use of meperidine include nausea, vomiting, salivation, and decreased intestinal peristalsis. Chronic administration can cause physical dependence.

This drug should not be used in animals undergoing treatment with monoamine oxidase inhibitors. It is also not for use in animals with diarrhea caused by toxin ingestion until the toxin is fully eliminated from the gastrointestinal tract. Meperidine should be used cautiously in animals with severe renal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, or Addison's disease. Caution is also warranted when treating debilitated or geriatric animals and when administering the medication to animals with increased intracranial pressure, head injuries, and acute abdominal conditions.

Extreme caution is needed when administering meperidine to animals experiencing respiratory disease or dysfunction. Bronchoconstriction following intravenous administration has been observed in dogs. Severe hypotension may develop if meperidine is administered intravenously. Giving the drug very slowly reduces the risk of this adverse reaction. Meperidine is known to interact with a number of medications, including other sedatives and narcotics, L-Deprenyl, diuretics, antidepressants, general anesthetics, anxiolytics, and others.

Meperidine should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. Overdose may cause significant CNS and respiratory depression. Hypothermia, cardiovascular collapse, and other potentially severe or even fatal symptoms are possible. Cats may experience convulsions and excitement. Any known or suspected overdose is a medical emergency and should be reported to a veterinarian right away.


Meperidine should be stored at room temperature, away from light. It should not be frozen. Like all drugs, meperidine should be kept out of the reach of children and animals.


Meperidine is available as tablets in strengths of 50 mg and 100 mg. It is also available as a 50 mg/ml syrup and in various injectable concentrations. As a premedication prior to general anesthesia in dogs, the typical dose of meperidine is 1 to 3 mg/lb (2.2 to 6.5 mg/kg) IM or IV. For pain relief in dogs, the typical dose is 1.5 to 5 mg/lb (3 to 10 mg/kg) IM or IV. As a cough suppressant, the typical dose of meperidine is 2 mg/lb (4.4 mg/kg) every 3 to 6 hours by mouth. As a premedication for cats, the typical dose of meperidine is 1 to 2 mg/lb (2.2 to 4.4 mg/kg) IM or IV. For pain relief in cats, the typical dose is 1 to 5 mg/lb (2 to 10 mg/kg) IM or IV.

Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medications, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instructions and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely. If a dose of this medication is missed, a veterinarian should be consulted. It is important not to give two doses of this medication at the same time due to the high risk for overdose.

This information is for general reference only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition of your pet. It's intended as a general reference, this information may not include all possible uses, precautions, directions, reactions (including allergic), drug interactions, or withdrawal times. Always consult your local veterinarian and have your pet examined for any advice concerning the diagnosis and treatment of your pet, including which products and doses are most appropriate. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. VetDepot is not a pharmacy. All prescription products are dispensed by our Pharmacy Partner. Article last updated 2/2014.