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Safety of IV Famotidine in Cats

de Brito Galvao, J. F. and L. A. Trepanier (2008). “Risk of hemolytic anemia with intravenous administration of famotidine to hospitalized cats.” J Vet Intern Med 22(2): 325-9.

Famotidine is a histamine type 2 blocker, used to treat esophagitis, nausea and vomiting in cats. Anecdotally, famotidine has been associated with hemolytic anemia when given intravenously to cats, leading some clinicians to avoid this route of administration. The actual risk has not been fully evaluated, and many clinicians have never experienced adverse effects from IV use of famotidine in cats. The objective of this study was to determine if a significant drop in packed cell volume (PCV) was observed in hospitalized cats given famotidine IV compared to cats given the drug by the subcutaneous route (SC), or not at all. It was also hypothesized that when famotidine is given slowly IV, no signficant decrease in PCV would occur. A retrospective medical record review was performed involving 56 cats prescribed famotidine IV, 48 cats given famotidine SC, and 38 cats that were not prescribed the drug at all (control group). The IV famotidine was given by a standardized protocol in this study, with administration over a period of 5 minutes. No cats were given famotidine by rapid IV bolus. The median decrease in PCV was no different in cats that received famotidine by either route compared with the control group. No cats in the famotidine groups had any signs of hemolysis. In this retrospective study, famotidine was given IV to 56 hospitalized cats without evidence of hemolysis, and the IV route appeared safe when the drug was administered over 5 minutes. There did not appear to be a safety advantage of SC versus IV administration in this group of cats.
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