When Pets Need Meds: Three Must-Knows About Their Care

October 19, 2020
Girl with dog in her arms

Just like their human owners, pets sometimes require medications to treat health conditions and improve their quality of life. If pet owners aren’t fully knowledgeable about certain medications or understand the risks associated with keeping pet medications around the house, both humans and pets can suffer dire consequences.

The good news is that there are some simple steps pet owners can take to ensure the safety of pets and children around pet medications. In addition, there are innovations in pet medications and dosing that are worth knowing.

Here are three things pet owners should know about pet medication:

Improved Medications

There are several over-the-counter pet supplements that help with pets’ muscles, joints, bones and coats such as omega- 3’s, glucosamine and chondroitin, and general vitamins. It’s important to have a veterinarian recommend which brand and dosage is best to address particular pet health issues.

When over-the-counter or prescribed medications are not feasible to use with particular pets, compounded medications from an accredited compounding pharmacy can be customized to meet pets’ needs. Pharmacists can collaborate with veterinarians to provide these medications.

Compounded medications have formulated flavors that match an animal’s taste. Chicken, fish or strawberry are but a few of the flavors now available for pets. When palliative care is necessary, compounded medications are available in treats, capsules and creams to help with pain management and improve quality of life at the final stage of a pet’s life.

Medication Administration

Many pet owners have learned how hard it can be to administer medication to a pet. Think of dogs that won’t open their mouths for medication or pet owners that try to disguise pills in dog food only to have the dog eat around it. Compounding pharmacists have heard pet owners’ pleas and routinely create new drug forms to help pet owners administer medications.

Compounding pharmacists at work at the LDN pharmacy

Anti-thyroid medications are commonly prescribed for cats that have a hyperactive thyroid gland. Cats can be finicky when it comes to taking medicine orally. Transdermal anti-thyroid gel medications that are designed to be applied on the ear are making medication administration easier on cats and their owners.

Unfortunately, dogs are not able to have medications applied topically that can be absorbed and utilized in the body as easily as a cat can. In this case, oral medications are the best option. For dogs that refuse to take any pill, pill pouches are another option. These conceal a medication within a specially designed dog treat that masks the smell and taste of any medicine.

Medication Storage

Many of us live in a multi-animal household and pets have been known to take medications intended for other pets, or humans in the house. For example, did you know that birds can be very jealous animals around the home and can resent other pets for getting what appears to be a treat? Parrots and macaws, in particular, are very intelligent creatures and will swoop in and take medication if left unattended. In fact, birds can actually twist a cap off, dogs can gnaw through a medicine bottle and cats have been known to claw pills out of containers.

Whether they’re over-the-counter or prescribed, it’s important to keep all medications stored in a safe place. Chewable medications can be very tasty to pets and children and they could ingest an entire bottle if improperly stored. Veterinary medications accounted for some 9 percent of ca lls to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Poison Control Center.

Medicating your pet should not cause you stress. With recent improvements in administering medications and following the guidance on storing them, this aspect of pet ownership can be as simple as playing fetch.

Ted Toufas, PharmD, R.Ph, is a clinical pharmacist at Acton Pharmacy. He is the pharmacist- in-charge of Acton Pharmacy’s compounding lab, where he oversees the compounding of veterinary medications. For more information, visit DinnoHealth.com.

This article was originally published in Natural Awakenings.