Chemicals / Complex Chemical Agents/ Chemical:

Oxytocin (with special reference to Lagomorphs, Ferrets and Great Apes)




Information in this page has been entered to support the current volumes of Wildpro and further information will be added as new volumes are completed. This page is not intended to substitute for the manufacturer's data sheet and the information is not yet complete for all species, or for all contra-indications etc.

CAUTION: Before any pharmaceutical product is used, the manufacturer's data sheet, containing information on uses, dosage and administration, contra-indications, warnings etc., should always be consulted. It is important to remember that licensing of pharmaceutical products for use in a particular species/condition, as well as mandatory meat and milk withdrawal times for food-producing animals, varies between countries and changes with time. Withdrawal times also may vary between different pharmaceutical formulations and depending on route of administration. In Europe the prescription cascade must be followed. In the USA FARAD may be consulted regarding residues and meat and milk withdrawal times.

General Chemical Information


A hypothalamic hormone; a myometrial stimulant used to stimulate parturition.

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Names and Formulae

Type --
Alternative Names --
Chemical Formula --
Chemical Structure Nonapeptide hormone. 
Molecular Weight --
Related Chemicals --

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Physical Properties / Chemistry


Powder, white. (B263)

Melting point --
Boiling point --
Density --
Water solubility Soluble in water. (B263)
Other solubility --
Acid/Base Commercial preparations: usually pH 2.5 - 4.5 (pH is adjusted using acetic acid). (B263)

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Pharmacology & General Information

  • Increases the sodium permeability of uterine myofibrils and thereby stimulates uterine contraction. (B263)
  • Stimulates ejection of milk. (B263)
Storage / Stability
  • Store below 25 C but do not freeze. (B263)
  • Some manufacturers recommend storage at 2-8 C (i.e. refrigerated, but stability at under 26 C for up to five years has been demonstrated for some products. (B263)
Physical compatibility
  • Reportedly physically compatible with "chloramphenicol sodium succinate, metaraminol bitartrate, netilmicin sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, tetracycline HCl, thiopental sodium and verapamil HCl" as well as most commonly used intravenous fluids. (B263)
  • Reportedly physically incompatible with: "fibrinolysin, norepinephrine bitartrate, prochlorperazine edisylate and warfarin sodium." (B263)
  • Note: Physical compatibility is affected by factors such as concentration, pH, temperature and diluents; specialized references should be consulted for more specific information. (B263)
Legal Category (In UK) --

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Associated Techniques




(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

Authors Nikki Fox BVSc MRCVS (V.w103)
Referees Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)

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Therapeutic Information


Activity Stimulates contraction of oestrogen-sensitised myometrium and mammary myoepithelial cells. (B263)
Appropriate Use
  • Treatment of uterine inertia at parturition - induction or enhancement of uterine contractions.
  • Treatment of postpartum retained placenta and metritis. 
  • To promote uterine involution, e.g. after manual correction of prolapsed uterus in dogs. 
  • Treatment of agalactia due to failure of "let down"

(B263, B373.8.w8)

Limitations --
Notes --

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Pharmacokinetics and Drug Interactions

Absorption /Bioavailability
  • Oral administration: Not bioavailable if given by this route; destroyed in the gastro-intestinal tract. (B263)
  • Must be given by a parenteral route. (B263)
    • Following intravenous administration, uterine response is almost immediate.
    • Following intramuscular injection, uterine response usually occurs within three to five minutes. 
  • In dogs:
    • Following intravenous injection, effects have been reported to last for 13 minutes. (B263)
    • Following intramuscular/subcutaneous administration, effects have been reported to last 20 minutes. (B263)
  • Following intranasal administration: absorbed, but this can be erratic. (B263)
  • Well distributed in extracellular fluid. (B263)
  • Small quantities are thought to cross the placenta. (B263)
Plasma Protein binding / Storage --
Elimination Route
  • Hepatic and renal metabolism; also metabolised by the circulating enzyme oytocinase. (B263)
  • Urinary excretion of very small amounts of unchanged oxytocin. (B263)
Elimination half-life / Clearance Rate
  • Goats: plasma half-life about 22 minutes reported. (B263)
  • Humans: plasma half-life of 3 - 5 minutes. (B263)
Drug Interactions
  • Use concurrently with sympathomimetic agents may result in postpartum hypertension. (B263)
  • Use concomitantly with cyclopropane anaesthesia may lead to hypotension and maternal sinus bradycardia with atrioventricular dysrhythmias. (B263)

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Formulations available Note: "Oxytocin potency is standardized according to its vasopressor activity in chickens and is expressed in USP Posterior Pituitary Units. One unit is equivalent of approximately 2.0 - 2.2 micrograms of pure hormone." (B263)
Doses / Administration Routes / Frequencies Lagomorphs - Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus - Domestic rabbit:
  • 1- 2 IU/kg subcutaneously or intramuscularly. (B600.4.w4)
  • 0.1 - 3 IU/kg subcutaneously or intramuscularly. In the treatment of delayed parturition (assuming the cervix is open) or agalactia. (B601.15.w15)
  • 0.1 - 3.0 IU/kg subcutaneously or intramuscularly. (B602.41.w41)
  • 1- 2 IU intramuscularly. For induction of parturition. (B618.7.w7)

Ferrets - Mustela putorius furo - Ferret:

  • 0.2 - 3.0 IU/kg subcutaneously or intramuscularly. (B602.41.w41)
  • 0.2 - 10 USP units per kg subcutaneously or intramuscularly. To assist delivery of kittens and to stimulate lactation. (B626.App.w22)
  • 0.2 - 3.0 IU/kg intramuscularly or subcutaneously. To assist delivery of kittens and to stimulate lactation. (B631.21.w21)
  • 0.2 - 3.0 IU/kg subcutaneously or intramuscularly. Induction of parturition (with prostaglandin F2-alpha). (J213.3.w1)

Great Apes

  • Adult Pan troglodytes - Chimpanzee: 0.5 - 1.0 mU/minute intravenously by constant rate infusion, or 5 - 30 units intravenously or subcutaneously, as required. (W768.Jun2012.w1)


  • 0.2 - 0.5 mL of 20 units per mL solution, intramuscularly, once. In the treatment of egg binding. (B12.56.w14)
Monitoring parameters Uterine contractions, state of the cervix and, if appropriate, status of the fetus. (B263)

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Withdrawal period / Withholding time

Notes --

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Toxic Information

Toxic effects of Pharmaceutical Products

Contraindications / Precautions Contraindicated for:
  • Dystocia due to obstruction ( e.g. due to fetal malposition, or relative fetal oversize). (B263, B373.8.w8)
  • Closed pyometra. (B373.8.w8)
  • Reduced milk letdown due to stress. (B373.8.w8)
  • Individuals with known hypersensitivity to oxytocin. (B263)


  • In prepartum use, use only following relaxation of the cervix. (B263)
Adverse Effects / Side Effects / Warnings
  • Adverse effects may occur if oxytocin is used inappropriately.
  • In products not synthetically produced, there is the possibility of hypersensitivity reactions.
  • With repeated bolus dosing, uterine cramping and discomfort may occur.

Local side effect:

  • Injection site swelling or sloughing may occur. (B373.8.w8)
Operator Warnings --
Overdose / Acute Toxicity Uterine effects:
  • "Effects of overdosage on the uterus depend on the stage of the uterus and the position of the fetus(es). Hypertonic or tetanic contractions can occur leading to tumultuous labor, uterine rupture, fetal injury or death." 

Water intoxication

  • This may occur if large doses of oxytocin are infused for prolonged periods, particularly with concomittent administration of large volumes of electrolyte-free fluids. Signs are listlessness and depression and with severe intoxication, coma, seizures, even death.
  • Treatment of water intoxication: 
    • Stop treatment with oxytocin, restrict water access.
    • Severe toxicity: Osmotoc diuretics such as mannitol, urea or dextrose, sometimes together with furosemide, may be required.

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Detailed Toxicological Information

Classification --
Acute Toxicity --
Chronic Toxicity --
Reproductive effects --
Teratogenic effects --
Mutagenic effects --
Carcinogenic effects


Organ toxicity --
Bird Toxicity --
Aquatic organism activity --
Other organism toxicity --

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Nutrient Information

Nutritional Data

Sources --
Biological Use --
Recommended Daily Allowance / Recommended level in food --
Stability in food (Storage time) --
Interactions --

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External / Environmental Information

External / Environmental Uses

Use --
Formulation --
Application method --
Application Concentration --
Persistence of Effect / Frequency of Application --

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Sources in the Environment

Natural sources --
Human-associated sources


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Effects on the Environment

Effects in the aquatic environment


Effects on land --

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Persistence in the Environment

Breakdown in soil and groundwater


Breakdown in water --
Breakdown in vegetation --

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