Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pet Meds

Hey, I really appreciate all the blog subject suggestions. Thanks to Chicken Flicken, I don't have to buy that book. I'll start with medications that animals take that humans also take. We are all mammals, with nearly all the same organ systems, just a few species idiosyncrasies, really.

Dogs and cats that get diabetes take insulin. Infections are treated with amoxicillin, cephalexin, clindamycin, etc - the antibiotics are all fair game. Heart medications are identical - vasotec, digoxin, lasix, etc. When your pet goes under anesthesia, the same cocktail you had may be used on your pet, and the same fluids drip in the arm. Even the same cancer drugs are used, expensively.

Its easier to talk about what animals can't take. Tylenol will kill your cat. Almost all of the human Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) cause toxicity in dogs and cats. Fortunately, we have veterinary specific ones that safely work well. NEVER give your dog or cat Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, etc) or Naproxin Sodium (Aleve).

Safe over the counter medications include benedryl (but the dose might be higher than you think!), chlorpheniramine, topical cortisone creams, neosporin, and saline eye drops. Aspirin can be given, but evidence shows that even in small doses, it can cause stomach ulceration.

Here's a real life story: I had a client with a cocker spaniel suffering from arthritis. I put the dog on one of my favorite NSAIDs for dogs: Rimadyl. This is a wonderful pain reliever, and can actually slow the progression of the arthritis if given regularly. I gave it to my own dog, Terlingua, for 5+ years. I give it post-operatively to nearly all my surgical patients. It is a safe, effective drug.

All drugs can have some side effects, and Rimadyl can cause a liver problem in a minute population of dogs. If this happens, the dog is very sick with vomiting and complete lack of appetite, so you wouldn't miss it. It is reversible (unless you ignore it too long and keep giving the drug). However, some people have gone CRAZY on the internet and written all kinds of bad stuff about rimadyl, with no scientific evidence, of course. One of these websites has a name like "Rimadyl Death" and has stories like, "My vet gave my dog rimadyl and he limped less, but I didn't like the way he looked on it, so I stopped it. He suddenly died 6 months later! I know it was that evil drug pushing vet and the rimadyl!" I'm not exaggerating.

So, my client returns 2 weeks later and says he's really upset about being given rimadyl. His dog was better, but seemed worse when he was "not under the influence of the drug." He could no longer go up and down the stairs. His wife read about how horrible this drug was on the internet, so he stopped giving it to the dog. However, he had been so painful he had to do something, so he'd given his dog a ibuprofen every morning the last 3 days.

I had been very calm, listening to his unfounded complaints, but when he told me about the ibuprofen I lost it a little, and blurted out, "Oh no! You didn't!" Then I told him we needed to check his dog's kidney enzymes and start all kinds of medications to protect his kidney and stomach! After I left the exam room, I literally beat my head with my clipboard. How could he stop a safe medication that had been working, and give something DEFINITELY TOXIC to dogs? If they had googled ibuprofen and dogs, they would have also known the real dangers of that drug. If only he had called me with his concerns, I would have been happy to address them. You can be sure I sent him home with lots of literature (which I probably should have done the first day). Luckily, his dog is fine, and is on a different pain reliever, since the guy is still skeptical of Rimadyl.

The moral of the story is, PLEASE call your vet before giving anything, even herbal supplements, to your pet. Most medications work, but the dose may be different. We'd much rather get a call BEFORE than AFTER an accidental poisoning.


Krispy said...

Hey Jen - you've been doing awesome on the daily blog. really - I've really enjoyed everything you've written lately and am impressed with your commitment. Keep it up!

My old Man said...

What a terrifc post. So informative.

How do reptiles respond to ibuprofen and Aleve?

What about bovines Etc.

I know you can't cover everything but it really is interesting.....

Awesome Mom said...

That is great advice for anyone human or animal. You never know what herbal remedies will interact with what medication you are taking. It really is amazing how many human medicines work in other animals, it goes to show that mammals are quite similar in many respects.

A.Norma said...

I shall certainly bear that in mind,Jenn..we are having to take Jess to the Vets again this morning..she needs a £600 op. on her hind leg..she has been on anti-inflammatory and pain killers for a week with an Injection this morning and one last week...Vet said it is her knee but he might find something more deep!! The drug 'brufen is still on sale here and advertised on TV profusely yet it has been proved that it is not reliable!!..once again I wish you lived in England..:o)

Lily said...

I found a prescription discount card that accepts pets as members. It's at The monthly membership fee is only $4.50.