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Cyclosporine (Atopica) for Dogs

By | Last Updated: 23rd February 2023

What is cyclosporine

Cyclosporine (brand name Atopica), sometimes also spelled ciclosporin and cyclosporin, is an immunosuppressant medicine approved by the FDA for use in dogs to treat atopic dermatitis (skin allergies) [7]. It may also be given as an extra-label medication for the treatment of blistering skin diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), anal inflammatory disease, sebaceous adenitis, and myasthenia gravis [6].

Quick Information

Cyclosporine for Dogs

Generic Name (active ingredient): Cyclosporine

Brand Name: Atopica [4]

Type: Immunosuppressant

Who can take it: Dogs, cats

FDA Approved: Yes (only for atopy in dogs) [5]

Availability: Prescription only [3]

Available forms for use in dogs: Capsules [3]

How does Cyclosporine work in dogs

This medication works by targeting specific cells in a dog’s immune system to reduce the immune response to allergens, keeping down the symptoms as a result [1].

Dosage: How much to give

Since cyclosporine is a prescription-only drug, the veterinarian’s advice should be followed. The dosage usually prescribed is 1.5-3 mg per pound (3-7 mg/kg) of the dog’s body weight, given orally twice daily [4], preferably 2 hours before or after a meal as food has been found to interfere with the absorption of the drug [8].

A course of cyclosporine is usually tapered after 30 days; however, the duration depends on the condition being treated, and your pet’s reaction to the treatment. It is not recommended to stop giving the medication as soon as you start seeing improvement as that can worsen the condition further [3, 4].

If you miss a dose give it as soon as you remember, but if it is already time for the next dose, skip the missed one and continue with the regular dosing schedule.

Possible Side-effects

Cyclosporine is usually safe when given as per the prescription of a vet. Though in some cases, a few adverse effects may occur, with lack or loss of appetite being the most common. Other possible side effects or signs of overdose may include [4]:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Soft stools
  • Allergic reactions (swollen face, lips or tongue, labored breathing, hives)

Giving cyclosporine for a prolonged time can result in the formation of certain cancers, such as those of the lymph glands. There is also a small chance (less than 2%) of a condition named gingival hyperplasia, characterized by overgrowth of gum tissues. Since the immune system is suppressed, dogs may also become more vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections, particularly those in the urinary tract [4].

In case of any of the above signs, immediately get in touch with the vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Helpline (1-888-426-4435).

Contraindications: When not to give

Inform the vet about any condition your dog may have. Usually, cyclosporine is not prescribed to dogs that [3, 4]:

  • Are allergic to cyclosporine
  • Have conditions like a stomach ulcer, renal impairment, and specific blood disorders
  • Have a history of neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth)
  • Weigh less than 4 pounds (1.8 kg)
  • Are younger than 6 months
  • Are pregnant or lactating

Cyclosporine is usually not prescribed concurrently with P-450 suppressant drugs like ketoconazole for risk of drug interaction [3].


    1. Cyclosporine (Modified) Generic To Atopica – 1800PetMeds.com
    2.  Atopica For Dogs – 1800PetMeds.com
    3. Cyclosporine – PetMD.com
    4. Cyclosporine (Atopica®, Optimmune®, Sandimmune®) for Cats and Dogs – PetPlace.com
    5. Oral Cyclosporine Treatment in Dogs: A Review of the Literature – NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov
    6. Ciclosporin – Wikipedia.org
    7. Atopica – Petmeds.com
    8. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine – Books.google.co.in

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