Toxicity of Albuterol in Dogs

By Kimberly Porter
A rising health problem in dogs is not side effects or toxicity to their own medication but rather getting into their owners' medications. You will want to be sure to not leave pill bottles, cough syrup or even your albuterol inhalers within their reach. If your dog finds them and chews them up, toxicity can occur.


Albuterol is a bronchodilater. It is used in the treatment of bronchospasm, asthma or extreme coughing. It is not FDA approved for pets, although it is approved for human use. It is used orally (inhaled), and the medication relaxes the smooth bronchial muscles.

Albuterol for Pets

Although not FDA approved for pets, albuterol is given to dogs under special circumstances. Generally dogs are not given the more common inhaler albuterol--they are given a tablet or syrup. The recommended dose is 0.01 to 0.03 mg per lb. of the dog's body weight, every eight to 24 hours.

Your Dog and Albuterol

Generally your dog will not achieve albuterol toxicity when you are properly controlling the dose of the medication. The biggest albuterol hazard to a dog is the owner's inhaler. If the dog finds it and decides to use it as a chew toy, the canister may rupture. This will cause your dog to take in a huge dose of albuterol all at once and experience toxicity.

Signs of Toxicity

The general signs that your dog may be experiencing toxic levels of albuterol are: abnormal heart rhythms and rate, high blood pressure, high body temperature, vomiting, unusual excitement, dilated pupils and low blood potassium levels.

An In-Depth Look

Immediately upon the contents of an albuterol inhaler being inhaled by your dog, the rapid absorption will elevate the dog's heart rate to life-threatening levels. An initial phase of hyperactivity may occur until the albuterol causes a drop in potassium levels in the blood. This leads to your dog experiencing extreme weakness and depression, as well as circulatory failure.
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