The vet’s office: Our meds are not their meds
Treating pets with human medications
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
When we have a headache or other ailments, we know what medication in our medicine cabinet to use to help relieve the discomfort, but we cannot make the assumption that these same medications that benefit us can be given safely to our pets. How much and how often can these medications be given, and is there any risk of toxicity?
A sad example of this happened a few years ago with an adult cat that had a leg injury. The owner, though well intended, gave the cat the adult human dosage of ibuprofen for three days in a row before presenting it for examination. Unfortunately, the pet was already visibly jaundiced and in liver failure from the ibuprofen.
There are, however, some common medications that may be used at safe levels for short periods. One of these can be often seen mislabeled as “dog aspirin.” Aspirin is the same drug whether given to humans or dogs, but the amount given varies in dogs. For short periods of minor discomfort or post-vaccination sensitivity, your veterinarian may prescribe a safe aspirin dosage. Long-term use in dogs may lead to bleeding ulcers, and for cats aspirin can be toxic.
Dogs and cats have unique metabolisms for medications that can differ from humans and from each other. Many of the medications found in a veterinary pharmacy have been tested and evaluated for safety and effectiveness in pets. Not all human products meet these criteria, but some have been safely used for certain medical conditions. One example is the use of human antiseizure medications in pets with epilepsy.
Veterinarians have access to a resource similar to the Physicians’ Desk Reference, which lists many human medications and suggested dosing levels for pets. This resource helps veterinarians choose the most effective medication to treat your pet.
Recently, veterinarians have seen a dramatic increase in the costs of medications. Many pet owners have experienced this as their pet’s management medications may have doubled or even tripled in cost. This may lead the client to pursue bargain buys online. Beware as black market knockoff medications may not only be ineffective but possibly dangerous.
In response to this, if public online sites are requested for prescription medications, your veterinarian may require a signed waiver of liability from the pet owner.
Instead, ask your veterinarian about reputable lower cost medication options. Some veterinarians have access to an online store called Vets First Choice, where the manufacturer’s guarantees still apply and medications are verified to be authentic and price competitive.
Most pet owners find greater comfort in knowing the medications for their beloved pets are the real deal.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.