1. Contact your veterinarian immediately for further advice.
  2. Depending on the dose your pet has been exposed to and severity of clinical signs, you may be required to take your pet to your veterinarian for decontamination.
  3. Bring the drug/formulation your pet has ingested, with its package insert and/or label for confirmation of the specific drugs involved and calculation of dose ingested to give the vet an idea of the severity of toxicity and treatment plan.




The onset of action of codeine is usually 30minutes and its effects may last for as long as 4-6 hours.

  • Respiratory depression (decreased respiratory rate)
  • Depression
  • Sedation, lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Inappetence
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Collapse
  • Death

In cats, opiates may cause stimulation of the central nervous system, resulting in the possibility of hyperexcitability, tremors and seizures.


Opiates like codeine cause dose dependent sedation, analgesia and central nervous system depression. Opiates also directly stimulate the chemoreceptor trigger zone in the brain, which initiates vomiting. They can also increase smooth muscle tone along the whole gastrointestinal tract and decrease peristalsis causing a delay in emptying of gastric contents, and constipation. They can also affect bile flow.


Veterinary care may involve inducing vomiting if ingestion occurred within two hours and depending on the situation, your veterinarian may instruct you to do so at home. However, if your pet is too sedated, inducing vomiting may be contraindicated and dangerous. If necessary, a gastric lavage may also be performed by your vet to evacuate the contents in your pet’s stomach to get rid of any remaining drugs in its system. Multiple doses of activated charcoal should be given to absorb any more circulating drugs/toxins in the system.

In severe cases, your pet may need to be hospitalised for further treatment and management. Your pet may require intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the toxins from its system. In severe cases of respiratory depression, mechanical ventilation may be required.


Plumb DC (2011) Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook 7thEdn. Iowa, USA:Wiley-Blackwell

Hammond R, Christie M & Nicholson A (2008) Opiod Analgesics In: Small Animal Clinical Pharmacology. 2nd ed. Maddison JE, Page SW & Church DB. USA: Saunders Elsevier