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Effects of Bupropion on Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

Prescribed as an antidepressant and smoking cessation aid, bupropion is a human medication that should be stored safely out of your dog’s reach. Brand names for bupropion include Wellbutrin and Zyban. Bupropion absorbs quickly and causes numerous physiological problems in dogs. If your dog has ingested bupropion, contact your veterinarian immediately.


Because bupropion is absorbed so rapidly, vomiting may occur soon after ingestion. The amount ingested determines how soon and how much the dog will vomit. Side effects of long-acting varieties of bupropion will present slower and last longer. Dogs may start vomiting within one to four hours of ingesting bupropion. If you’re not sure bupropion is to blame, put gloves on and check the vomit for undissolved pills. Consult a veterinarian even if no pills are present in the vomit because they may have all been dissolved.

Respiratory Issues

Another common symptom of bupropion ingestion is dyspnea, the clinical term for shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. This symptom will be apparent only after the bupropion has passed through the stomach and entered the small intestine, where it can be absorbed into the blood stream. If your dog is having difficulty breathing, immediate veterinary treatment is necessary.

Lack of Coordination

Ataxia is the clinical term for lack of coordination. Bupropion ingestion can cause your dog to stumble or fall down when trying to walk. Your dog may walk into walls or furniture and appear to be disoriented. Contact your veterinarian. Assistance will be needed getting into and out of a crate or your vehicle and your dog will have to be carried into the veterinary hospital. Your veterinarian will begin treatment immediately upon arrival at the hospital.


Tremors involve involuntary shaking of the muscles throughout the dog’s body. This symptom can appear within one to four hours after ingestion. It may take longer if long-acting bupropion was consumed. Without treatment, tremors may also give way to seizures. Your dog may suddenly fall to the ground and go completely stiff. Your dog’s legs will be stretched out. Immediately after going stiff, your dog will start shaking violently and may lose bladder and bowel control. Your dog will not be responsive during a seizure. To avoid injuring yourself or your dog, don’t try to restrain your dog or reach into its mouth during a seizure. Immediate veterinary treatment is necessary if these symptoms are present. Failure to attain appropriate care may result in coma or death.