Recent research has looked into the effectiveness of gastric acid suppression of famotidine, two omeprazole formulations (reformulated
paste and enteric-coated tablets) and a placebo.1 The researchers used a continuous telemetric pH monitoring system to analyze intragastric pH.
The telemetric system, in comparison to previously used invasive procedures or indirect intragastric pH measurements, is catheterless
and expected to have minimal effects on gastric physiology. Capsules were attached directly to the fundic gastric mucosa via
Results indicated that both oral omeprazole preparations were superior to famotidine for suppressing gastric acid secretion
in dogs. Oral famotidine, even though administered at a relatively high dose, resulted in surprisingly poor gastric acid suppression.
In essence, the omeprazole preparations consistently kept the gastric acid levels lower for a longer period.
Gastric acid suppression overview
Gastric acid secretion is regulated by a variety of neurochemical and neurohormonal stimuli. Acid secretion is stimulated
by luminal peptides, digested protein, acetylcholine, gastrin and histamine. Acid secretion is inhibited by somatostatin.
Ultimately, all these stimuli affect the hydrogen-potassium ATPase acid pump located in the parietal cells in the gastric
mucosa. Hydrogen ions are transported into the gastric lumen in exchange for potassium.
Three main types of gastric acid suppressants are used in veterinary medicine today—antacids, histamine H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors (PPI). Antacids (calcium carbonate, aluminum hydroxide, magnesium carbonate)
are generally not sufficiently effective and have a short duration of action. H2-receptor antagonists (famotidine, ranitidine, cimetidine) act as competitive inhibitors at the histamine receptor on the
parietal cells. They do not block other stimulants for acid secretion. PPIs (omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole) inhibit
the final step of acid production—the hydrogen-potassium ATPase pump—and, thus, prevent histamine, acetylcholine and gastric-induced
acid secretion.2 This explains why this study found that omeprazole appeared to be more effective at gastric acid suppression in comparison
Other less commonly used drugs for reducing gastric acid secretion include proglumide (cholecystokinin antagonist), pirenzepine
(an M2-receptor antagonist), misoprostol (a prostaglandin-2 analogue) and octreotide (a somatostatin analogue). Other means of decreasing
gastric acid secretion not yet available include gastrin-receptor antagonists, gastric-releasing peptide receptor antagonists
and potassium-competitive acid blockers at the level of the hydrogen-potassium ATPase pump.
Gastric acid suppressants are used to manage and treat a variety of conditions (Table 1). This study indicates a superior
effect of omeprazole on gastric acid secretion. It would be logical to consider using omeprazole (and other PPIs) instead
of famotidine (or other H2-receptor antagonists) in certain diseases for optimal increase in gastric pH (acid reduction). Unfortunately, injectable
omeprazole is not available in the United States. Injectable famotidine can be used initially in cases in which vomiting or
inability to swallow is an issue. If indicated, treatment can be followed with oral omeprazole.
Dr. Lyman is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed a formal internship at the Animal
Medical Center in New York City. Lyman is a co-author of chapters in the 2000 editions of Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy XIII and Quick Reference to Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Runde is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. He completed an internship at Hollywood Animal
Hospital. He is an associate veterinarian at the Animal Emergency and Referral Center, Ft. Pierce, Fla.
1. Tolbert K, Bissett S, King A, et al. Efficacy of oral famotidine and 2 omeprazole formulations for the control of intragastric
pH in dogs. J Vet Intern Med 2011;25(1):47-54.
2. Simpson KW. Diseases of the stomach. In: Ettinger SJ, Feldman EC, eds. Textbook of veterinary internal medicine: diseases of the dog and cat. 7th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Saunders Elsevier, 2010;1504-1526.