Elephant Formulary

© 2003-17 Susan K. Mikota DVM and Donald C. Plumb, Pharm.D. Published by
Elephant Care International

Disclaimer: the information on this page is used entirely at the reader's discretion, and is made available on the express condition that no liability, expressed or implied, is accepted by the authors or publisher for the accuracy, content, or use thereof.


Mineral Oil

Elephant specific information, if available, is in blue.

Chemistry – Mineral Oil, also known as liquid petrolatum , liquid paraffin  or white min­eral oil  occurs as a tasteless, odorless (when cold), transparent, colorless, oily liquid that is insoluble in both water and alcohol. It is a mixture of complex hydrocarbons and is de­rived from crude petroleum. For pharmaceutical purposes, heavy mineral oil is recom­mended over light mineral oil, as it is believed to have a lesser tendency to be absorbed in the gut or aspirated after oral administration.


White petrolatum, also known as white petroleum jelly or white soft paraffin occurs as a white or faintly yellow unctious mass. It is insoluble in water and almost insoluble in al­cohol. White petrolatum differs from petrolatum only in that it is further refined to remove more of the yellow color.


Storage/Stability/Compatibility – Petrolatum products should be stored at temperatures less than 30°C.


Pharmacology – Mineral oil and petrolatum act as a laxatives by lubricating fecal material and the intestinal mucosa. They also reduce reabsorption of water from the GI tract, thereby increasing fecal bulk and decreasing intestinal transit time.


Uses/Indications – Mineral oil is commonly used in horses to treat constipation and fecal impactions. It is also employed as a laxative in other species as well, but used less fre­quently. Mineral oil has been administered after ingesting lipid-soluble toxins (e.g., kerosene, metalaldehyde) to retard the absorption of these toxins through its laxative and solubility properties.


Petrolatum containing products (e.g., Felaxin®, Laxatone®, Kat-A-Lax®, etc.) may be used in dogs and cats as a laxative or to prevent/reduce “hair-balls” in cats.


Pharmacokinetics – It has been reported that after oral administration, emulsions of min­eral oil may be up to 60% absorbed, but most reports state that mineral oil preparations are only minimally absorbed from the gut.


Contraindications/Precautions – No specific contraindications were noted with regard to veterinary patients. In humans, mineral oil (orally administered) is considered to be con­traindicated in patients less than 6 yrs. old, debilitated or pregnant patients, and in patients with hiatal hernia, dysphagia, esophogeal or gastric retention. Use caution when adminis­tering by tube to avoid aspiration, especially in debilitated or recalcitrant animals. To avoid aspiration in small animals, orally administered mineral oil should not be attempted when there is an increased risk of vomiting, regurgitation or other preexisting swallowing difficulty.


Adverse Effects/Warnings – When used on a short-term basis and at recommended doses, mineral oil or petrolatum should cause minimal adverse effects. The most serious effect that could be encountered is aspiration of the oil with resultant lipid pneumonitis. This can be prevented by using the drug in appropriate cases and when “tubing” to ascertain that the tube is in the stomach and to administer the oil at a reasonable rate.


Granulomatous reactions have occurred in the liver, spleen and mesenteric lymph nodes when significant quantities of mineral oil are absorbed from the gut. Oil leakage from the anus may occur and be of concern in animals with rectal lesions or in house pets. Long-term administration of mineral oil/petrolatum may lead to decreased absorption of fat-sol­uble vitamins (A, D, E, & K). No reports were found documenting clinically significant hypovitaminosis in cats receiving long-term petrolatum therapy, however.


Overdosage – No specific information was located regarding overdoses of mineral oil; but it would be expected that with the exception of aspiration, the effects would be self-limit­ing. See adverse effects section for more information.


Drug Interactions – Theoretically, mineral oil should not be given with docusate (DSS) as enhanced absorption of the mineral oil could occur. However, this does not appear to be of significant clinical concern with large animals.


Chronic administration of mineral oil may affect Vitamin K and other fat soluble vi­tamin absorption. It has been recommended to administer mineral oil products between meals to minimize this problem.


Doses –

Horses: Administer via stomach tube

As a laxative:

a)   For large colon impactions: 2 – 4 quarts q12-24 hours, may take up to 5 gallons. Mix 1 – 2 quarts of warm water with the oil to ease administration and give more fluid to the horse. Pumping in at a moderate speed is desirable over grav­ity flow. (Sellers and Lowe 1987)

b)   Adults: 2 – 4 liters, may be repeated daily; Foals: 240 mls (Clark and Becht 1987)

c)   Adults:       0.5 – 2 liters; Foals: 60 – 120 mls (Jenkins 1988)


Monitoring Parameters –

1)   Clinical efficacy

2)   If possibility of aspiration: auscultate, radiograph if necessary


Client Information – Follow veterinarian’s instructions or label directions for “cat laxa­tive” products. Do not increase dosage or prolong treatment beyond veterinarian’s recom­mendations.


Dosage Forms/Preparations/FDA Approval Status/Withholding Times – These prod­ucts and preparations are available without a prescription (OTC).


Veterinary-Approved Products: Mineral oil products have not been formally approved for use in food animals.

Petrolatum Oral Preparations

Products may vary in actual composition; some contain liquid petrolatum in place of white petrolatum. Trade names include: Felaxin® (Schering), Kat-A-Lax®  (P/M; Mallinckrodt), Laxatone® (Evsco), Kit-Tonne® (Miles), Lax ’aire®  (Beecham)


Human-Approved Products:

Mineral Oil, Heavy  in pints, quarts, gallons and drums


Mineral Oil, Extra Heavy  in pints, quarts, gallons and drums


Mineral Oil Emulsions

There are several products available that are emulsions of mineral oil and may be more palatable for oral administration. Because of expense and with no increase in efficacy they are used only in small animals. They may be dosed as described above, factoring in the actual percentage of mineral oil in the preparation used. Trade names include: Agoral® Plain  (Parke-Davis), Kondremul® Plain (Fisons), and Milkinol®  (Kremers-Urban).