Selegiline For Dogs: Dosage, Side Effects, and More

Selegiline for Dogs

Selegiline for Dogs: Selegiline is a prescription medication used to treat canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and Cushing’s disease in dogs. It works by inhibiting the breakdown of dopamine in the brain, which can help improve cognitive function and relieve symptoms of Cushing’s disease.

Selegiline for Dogs

How Selegiline Works

Selegiline inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) that breaks down dopamine in the brain. By blocking the breakdown of dopamine, selegiline helps maintain dopamine levels in the brain that are important for cognitive functions like memory, learning, attention, and problem-solving. For dogs with CDS, selegiline may help slow the progression of cognitive decline and improve quality of life.

For dogs with Cushing’s disease, selegiline works by inhibiting the enzyme that produces cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. Excessive cortisol levels can lead to symptoms of Cushing’s disease like increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, and skin problems. Selegiline helps block excess cortisol production to provide relief from these symptoms.

Dosage and Administration

Selegiline is available as tablets that are given orally, typically once a day. The dosage will depend on your dog’s body weight and condition. For CDS, a typical dose ranges from 0.5 to 1.0 mg per pound of body weight. For Cushing’s disease, lower doses around 0.1 to 0.2 mg per pound are usually effective. It can take 4 to 6 weeks of treatment to see the full effects of selegiline. Your vet will monitor your dog closely when starting selegiline or adjusting the dosage. Blood tests may be needed to measure hormone levels and check for any side effects. Never stop or change the dosage of selegiline without consulting your vet.

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Selegiline can be used long-term to manage CDS and Cushing’s disease, but its effects may decrease over time. Your vet will determine if the dosage needs adjustment or if alternative treatments are needed. Close monitoring while on selegiline is important to ensure maximum benefit and minimize risks.

Appropriate Uses and Dosage of Selegiline in Dogs


Selegiline is used in dogs to treat Cushing’s disease and pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism. It works by inhibiting the enzyme monoamine oxidase B (MAOB) in the brain, which is responsible for breaking down dopamine. By blocking MAOB, selegiline increases dopamine levels in the brain and reduces the stimulation of the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. This helps control the clinical signs associated with Cushing’s disease like increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, and skin problems.


The typical dosage of selegiline for dogs is 0.25 to 0.5 mg per pound of body weight, given once daily. The exact dosage required will depend on the severity of your dog’s Cushing’s disease and their response to treatment. Selegiline is available as tablets that are given orally, either with or without food. It may take several weeks of treatment to determine if selegiline is adequately controlling the signs of Cushing’s disease in your dog. Close monitoring with blood tests and physical exams are needed, especially when first starting treatment.


Routine blood tests and exams are needed to monitor your dog’s response to selegiline and make any dosage adjustments. ACTH stimulation tests, urine cortisol:creatinine ratios, and blood alkaline phosphatase levels are commonly used to help determine if the dosage needs to be increased or decreased. It’s important not to increase the dosage too quickly, as this may result in side effects. Most dogs require dose increases of no more than 0.25 mg per pound every 4 to 6 weeks.

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Selegiline can be an effective treatment for Cushing’s disease in dogs, but close monitoring is needed to achieve the best results with the fewest side effects. By starting at a low dosage and slowly increasing while monitoring your dog’s clinical signs and bloodwork, selegiline may successfully help control the symptoms of Cushing’s disease long-term. However, if adequate control cannot be achieved, other treatment options may need to be explored under the guidance of your veterinarian.

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Potential Side Effects of Selegiline in Dogs

1. Gastrointestinal Issues

Selegiline may cause gastrointestinal upset in some dogs, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These side effects are usually temporary, but if they persist or worsen, contact your veterinarian. You may need to adjust the dosage or switch to a different medication. To reduce stomach upset, give selegiline with food.

2. Insomnia and Restlessness

Selegiline can cause insomnia, hyperactivity, and restlessness in dogs. These side effects are more common when first starting the medication or increasing the dose. If your dog seems overly energetic or unable to settle down and sleep, talk to your vet about temporarily reducing the dose or giving a sedative. Once their body adjusts, the side effects should subside.

3. Muscle Tremors

Muscle tremors and involuntary movements are potential side effects of selegiline, especially at higher doses. If your dog experiences severe or persistent muscle tremors, contact your vet immediately. They may reduce or discontinue the medication depending on the severity.

4. Loss of Appetite

Some dogs may experience decreased appetite, nausea, or other digestive issues that lead to weight loss while on selegiline. Make sure your dog is eating normally and monitor their weight. If there are significant changes, consult your vet. They can suggest diet changes, appetite stimulants, or other medications if needed.

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While the potential side effects of selegiline can be concerning, many dogs tolerate the medication very well with few or no adverse reactions when used properly under veterinary supervision. However, as with any medication, close monitoring is important, especially when your dog first starts taking selegiline or if the dosage is increased. Be sure to contact your vet right away if your dog experiences severe or persistent side effects.