Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

The use of ondansetron for the treatment of nausea in dogs with vestibular syndrome


Vestibular syndrome is often accompanied by nausea. Drugs currently approved for its treatment have been developed to stop vomiting but not nausea. The efficacy of 5-HT3 receptor antagonists to reduce nausea has been described for chemotherapy, but not for nausea secondary to vestibular disorders.


Sixteen dogs with vestibular syndrome-associated nausea were included in the open-label, multicentre study. The intensity of nausea-like behaviour was analysed before ondansetron administration (0.5 mg/kg i.v.) and 2 h afterwards, using a validated 5-point-scale. The occurrence and frequency of salivation, lip licking, restlessness, vocalisation, lethargy, and vomiting were assessed.


All dogs initially showed signs of nausea, whereas only 31% showed vomitus. The intensity of nausea was significantly reduced in all dogs (p ≤ 0.0001) 2 h after ondansetron administration, including the clinical signs of nausea analysed in 11 dogs (salivation [p = 0.0078], lip licking [p = 0.0078], restlessness [p = 0.0039], and lethargy [p = 0.0078]) except for vocalisation (p > 0.9999).


The results provide preliminary evidence of the potential benefit of ondansetron in the treatment of nausea, which was present in all examined dogs. Vomiting was only observed in 5 dogs indicating that nausea can occur separately and should not be perceived only as a preceding stimulation of the vomiting centre.


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