Generic Drug Name: Oxytocin
Other Common Names: Pitocin
Oxytocin is a hormone naturally produced in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls many important metabolic processes, including hunger, sleep, body temperature, and others. Oxytocin plays a key role in reproduction by causing the uterus to contract so that the fetus moves into the birth canal during labor. Administration of the hormone may also cause the breasts to release milk.
Oxytocin is primarily used in dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and other animals to induce labor when contractions are weak or nonexistent. It is also used to help expel residual placental material left after birth and to stimulate the release of milk after delivery.
Side effects are not typically associated with proper use of oxytocin in animals. Uterine cramping is possible.
Oxytocin should not be used during delivery if the fetus is too large to pass through the animal's birth canal or is in an abnormal position. It should only be used after the cervix is dilated. This drug should not be used in animals with untreated low blood calcium levels or uncorrected low blood sugar. Improper use can result in uterine rupture or painful and excessive uterine cramping.
Oxytocin should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. Any known or suspected overdose should be reported to a veterinarian right away.
Oxytocin should be stored at room temperature, in labeled vials, away from children and animals. This drug should not be exposed to freezing temperatures.
Oxytocin is available in injectable form and as a nasal spray. The nasal spray is not to be used for stimulating uterine contractions.
The dose range for oxytocin varies, depending on the stage of labor. In most cases, oxytocin is administered to cats and dogs at a dose of 2 to 20 units IV or IM. A second dose may be given at least 30 minutes after the first dose. At least 30 minutes must elapse between doses of this medication. If a dose of oxytocin is missed, it should be administered as soon as possible. Two doses of this medication should not be given at once.
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.