Did you know that one acetaminophen (Tylenol) tablet can kill a cat? Or that giving ibuprofen to a dog can cause serious gastrointestinal side effects? Presented below are 7 important facts to know about medications administered to dogs and cats:
Many medications and anesthetic agents we use are also used in human medicine. For example, if your pet requires anesthesia, it may be premedicated with hydromorphone (a potent narcotic), induced with IV propofol, and maintained on isoflurane gas through an endotracheal tube. All of these you would find used in any human hospital.
This is also true of a large number of antibiotics, cardiac medications, gastrointestinal drugs, and analgesics used for your pet—many are also found in human pharmacies.
Many human drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, must NOT be used in our pets. Please ask before administering anything, as results could be life-threatening. As mentioned above, just one acetaminophen (Tylenol) tablet can kill a cat, and ibuprofen can cause serious gastrointestinal side effects in a dog.
We commonly prescribe steroids (i.e. prednisone) for various medical conditions. You should never administer these at the same time as an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), such as Metacam, Rimadyl, and Deramaxx. Doing so can lead to stomach ulceration.
If your pet has been prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to give ALL of the pills for the full designated length of time. Stopping the medication too soon can lead to incomplete resolution of the infection, as well as resistant bacteria.
Not every infection can be/should be treated with antibiotics. Just like in humans, many upper respiratory infections in dogs and cats are viral, and need to run their course. Medical professionals attempt to limit antibiotic use so as to decrease the incidence of resistant bacteria.
Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are not pharmaceuticals, rather they are “nutraceuticals.” As such, they are not regulated by the FDA, and there is no real quality control. Just because a label claims to have a certain milligrams of product, we can not be sure. We recommend using a product that has had its ingredients tested, and are happy to make recommendations.
All drugs are processed by various body organs. Long term use of a drug can have a negative effect on an organ, e.g., chronic use of the anti-seizure medication phenobarbital can impact the liver. For this reason, your veterinarian may recommend blood testing to ensure that liver and/or kidney function is appropriate for metabolizing a particular medication, along with routine testing for pets on certain medications long-term.