The Elephant Formulary
2003-06 Susan K. Mikota DVM and Donald C. Plumb, Pharm.D.
Published by Elephant Care International -

Elephant specific information, if available, is in blue.

Chemistry - Glacial acetic acid is C2H4O2. Acetic acid has a distinctive odor and a sharp acid taste. It is miscible with water, alcohol or glycerin. Much confusion can occur with the percentages of C2H4O2 contained in various acetic acid solutions. Acetic Acid USP is defined as having a concentration of 36-37% C2H4O2. Diluted Acetic Acid NF contains 5.7 - 6.3% w/v of C2H4O2. Solutions containing approximately 3-5% w/v of C2H4O2 is commonly known as vinegar . Be certain of the concentration of the product you are using and your dilutions.


Storage/Stability/Compatibility - Acetic acid solutions should be stored in airtight containers.


Pharmacology/Indications - Via its acidifying qualities, acetic acid is used in ruminants to treat non-protein nitrogen-induced ammonia toxicosis. The acetic acid in the rumen lowers pH, thereby shifting ammonia to ammonium ions and reducing absorption. It is also used as a potential treatment to prevent enterolith formation in horses, supposedly by reducing colonic pH.


Pharmacokinetics - No information noted.


Contraindications/Precautions - Should not be administered to ruminants with potential lactic acidosis (grain overload, rumen acidosis) until ruled out.


Adverse Effects/Warnings - Because of the unpleasant taste and potential for causing mucous membrane irritation, acetic acid is generally recommended to be administered via stomach tube.



Overdosage/Acute Toxicity - When used for appropriate indications, there is little likelihood of serious toxicity occurring after minor overdoses. The greatest concern would occur if a concentrated form of acetic acid is mistakenly used due to its potential corrosiveness. However, one human patient who had glacial acetic acid used instead of 5% acetic acid during colposcopy (cervix), demonstrated no detectable harm.


Drug Interactions - There are no documented drug interactions with oral acetic acid, but because of its acidic qualities it could potentially affect the degradation of several drugs in the gut.


Doses -


For enterolith prevention:

a) Using vinegar: 250 ml/450 kg body weight PO once daily (Robinson, 1992).


Dosage Forms/Preparations/FDA Approval Status/Withholding Times -


Veterinary-Approved Products: None


Human-Approved Products: None

There are no systemic products commercially available. Acetic acid (in various concentrations) may be purchased from chemical supply houses.

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.