Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Important Note Regarding Medications

The process of understanding our animal's illnesses can be a daunting one.  Just like us, they can develop problems with their mouth, eyes, teeth, skin, heart…you name it.  A lot of times as we are trying to process whatever disease condition they're faced with, we inadvertently focus a lot of energy towards our feelings and ensuring they are supported emotionally.  Often (especially with cats) we focus a lot on *how* to get the medications into them, and less time on really understanding those medications.

My reminder to owners right now is not about understanding how and why medications work (though I highly advise all pet owners to invest into a veterinary drugs book to have around), but rather, about the finances associated with getting all those medications they need. 

Veterinary medicine, as of late, has really evolved.   There are specialists for nearly all disease processes, as well as special referral places where you can take your animals.  Even pain management and treating conditions like arthritis have taken large leaps and bounds.  While it's an amazing development regarding improving longevity and quality of life, naturally there are potentially more medications your doctor may want to put your animal on to achieve this.  

Finances can be tough.  While I have not personally looked into pet insurance, I advise everyone to do it.  The key thing to remember about pet medications is that many of them, not all, are "human" drugs.  What this means is, you can think outside of the normal "veterinary box" when getting your prescriptions filled.  While there are online pet drug places and of course your veterinarian, we can seek out the same outlets where we fill *our* medications.  Ask your doctor if it's a human or a dog med they are prescribing.  So many retailers offer meds at as low as 4 bucks for a month's supply!  Shop around and do your homework; there are lot of affordable resources out there (Walmart, King Soopers, etc. all offer specials)

On a separate note, always be aware of the drugs your pet is on.  Key a note into your cell phone or have it written down.  Not just the medication itself, but also the dose (how many milligrams) and know how many times a day they are getting it.  While we anticipate vet visits for routine exams and can think to bring that info, consider an emergency where you are running your pet out quickly.  Enabling the doctor to know all of the meds and how much your dog is on will make a huge difference.

I often suggest to dog owners to buy a pillbox for your pet, like one you'd use for yourself.  It will help you keep the days straight and ensure no medications are missed.  Days can often bleed into one, and it's good to be able to look into "Monday" and see for sure that those pills have been given. 

If your dog has a heart condition, is diabetic, epileptic, or any other condition where they need their meds, consider buying a med alert dog tag for them.  You can find them easily with a quick Internet search.  This will help ensure that if your dog gets lose and gets picked up, that those who have him will know he needs his meds.

Medicating our pets is not always easy.  Your doctor and their techs can make suggestions as to how to better get those pills down.  Some dogs do well with "PillPockets" (if you haven't tried these, do!), but others are the wiser to your attempts!  Low fat peanut butter is good, as is mixing them into their wet food.  Be aware, however, that not all meds are the same.   Some drugs like anti-biotics' potencies are affected by dairy products, so you need to know before you use cheese.  While plain yogurt is a great way to get them down, (and helps settle the stomach) some diet (“light”) yogurts contain an ingredient called Xylitol which is toxic to dogs.  Some pills you can crush up, but others (such as a heart drug called Pimobendan) can lose their efficacy if the crushed bits aren't consumed in less than 20 minutes.  Often someone will recommend using a piece of hot dog, but keep in mind that if your dog is being treated for a condition like Pancreatitis, or a condition where they need low sodium, feeding meds in a hot dog is very bad.

Have you heard of compounding?  Compounding is when a medication supplier can take the meds your dog needs, and put them into different form.  This can't be done with all drugs, but for some they can be turned into a liquid, into a capsule, an injectable, an edible pill, or even an ointment for use as a transdermal patch!   Don't give up if the cheese routine isn't working.  Do some research, because there is a chance your loathed pill can be changed into another "format" your dog may go for!

Bottom line, don't be shy!  Ask your doctor and/or their technicians every question you have in your mind regarding your animal’s drugs.  They will have pharmacies they know are the cheapest for said drug, as well as any instructions regarding how to best give it.  Ask about side effects, and buy yourself a book to have in the house so you can self-educate!   Like all things with medicine, don't freak yourself out.  Veterinary medicine books can quickly become outdated, not citing new developments for a drug's treatment uses, and many veterinary drugs are used for other purposes than what they were created for.  A book will list a slew of side effects, but your doctor will be better able to give you a more reasonable idea of what to expect based on their experience.  Drugs interact differently with each other, and your doctor is your best source for education.

by Shannon Murphy


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  2. Posting it is very needed because every human being today want this information. Keep it up. Good luck and thanks for posting.

  3. Pillbox is a great way to ensure no medications are missed. frontline plus online


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