By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is selegiline?

Selegiline (brand names: Anipryl®, Eldepryl®, l-deprenyl, Selgian®, Zelapar®) is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) used to treat signs due to cognitive dysfunction syndrome in dogs and cats. It has also been used to treat pituitary dependent Cushing’s disease, although its effectiveness has not been proven. It has also been used to treat anxiety and certain phobias in combination with other medications.

Its use in cats to treat cognitive dysfunction syndrome is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is selegiline given?

Selegiline is given by mouth in the form of a tablet or capsule, or it may be administered as a transdermal patch on the skin which would be applied by your veterinarian. It may also be compounded into a liquid form; measure liquid forms carefully. Selegiline may be given with or without food but should not be given with aged cheeses. If your pet vomits when dosed on an empty stomach, give future doses with food. If stomach upset still occurs, stop this medication for a few days, and restart at a lower dose according to your veterinarian’s instructions. If your pet is on once daily dosing, give it in the morning to dogs and give it at night for cats.

Do not give this medication with other MAOIs (including certain tick collars), meperidine, tramadol, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or alpha-2 agonists; if tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors must be used, discontinue selegiline at least 14 days before initiating these medications.

This medication can take up to a few weeks before full effects are obvious, but gradual improvements are usually noticeable after a few days.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, disorientation/confusion, aggression, repetitive movements, tiredness, drooling, itchiness, licking, trembling, and lack of appetite. Uncommon but serious side effects include deafness and panting more than usual.

This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Selegiline should not be used in pets that are allergic to it or in pets receiving other MAOIs, meperidine, tramadol, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or alpha-2 agonists. It should not be used to treat aggressive pets. Selegiline should be used cautiously in pets with debilitating diseases and very cautiously in pets that are pregnant or lactating as safe use has not been established.

This medication has abuse potential among humans, so keep this medication in a safe place, preferably a locked cabinet or drawer.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with selegiline: amitraz, amitriptyline, bupropion, cyclobenzaprine, ephedrine, meperidine, metoclopramide, opioids, phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, SSRIs, tramadol, trazodone, or tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working. Monitor your pet for serious side effects.

How do I store selegiline?

Store the veterinary tablets at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C). Store the human-labeled tablets and capsules between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C). Protect from light. Store compounded liquid forms according to the label.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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