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Phosphodiesterase Inhibitor Bronchodilator

Prescriber Highlights

  • Bronchodilator used short-term to treat bronchospasm and cardiogenic pulmonary edema

Uses, Indications

  • Used primarily for bronchodilatory effects in coughing animals
  • Potentially beneficial in dogs with pulmonary arterial hypertension if the underlying cause is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Contraindications, Precautions, Warnings

  • Contraindications

Patients with hypersensitivity to any xanthine drugs, including aminophylline, theobromine, or caffeine

  • Precautions

Patients with severe cardiac disease, seizures, gastric ulcers, renal or hepatic disease, severe hypoxia, or severe hypertension

  • Warnings

May cause or worsen pre-existing arrhythmias

Side Effects

  • CNS stimulation
  • GI irritation
  • Polyphagia, polydipsia, and polyuria

Drug Interactions

  • Multiple drug interactions can occur, which can both increase and decrease the effects of theophylline
  • Additionally, theophylline can interact with several drugs (eg, benzodiazepines, propofol, ketamine), causing a decrease in efficacy of those drugs


  • Therapeutic efficacy and clinical signs of toxicity

Client Information

  • Giving with food may prevent stomach upset and vomiting
  • Do not crush the tablets

Dosage Forms

  • No veterinary-labeled products are available 
  • Human-labeled products available for extra-label use include:
    • Theophylline capsules and tablets: 100 mg, 125 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg, 450 mg, 600 mg
    • Theophylline elixir: 80 mg/15 mL

Compiled and summarized from Plumb’s Veterinary Drugs by Shannon Palermo, VMD

Information about this drug was adapted from Plumb’s Veterinary Drugs. Further details and more therapeutics can be found with a subscription at

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