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Tales from the Pet Clinic

with Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM

This blog has been retired. We appreciate all of the insights that Dr. Hohenhaus shared with our readers.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Managing your Pet’s Medications

The Importance of Compliance

On a daily basis, the veterinarians at The Animal Medical Center prescribe pills, capsules and tablets to cure, control and prevent diseases. We have pockets full of prescribing information, access dosing online and carefully follow guidelines to use medications safely and wisely.

Correct prescribing by the veterinarian is critical to medication success, but the other half, administering medications as prescribed is equally important. Pet owners, upset by the illness of their pet often misunderstand directions or adjust medication dosing without consulting their pet’s veterinary healthcare team. If you think no one would do this, here is summary of this week’s medication conversations.

Becky
Poor Becky had major dental surgery this week, including eight extractions and resulting in a prescription for pain medications. Becky, a dachshund, belongs to an employee of The AMC and I stopped by her office the next day to check on the dog. It just happened to be medication time and Becky’s owner was worried Becky was in pain (highly likely given eight extractions) and she thought she would give only half the prescribed dose of pain medications. I reassured her that the amount prescribed had been carefully calculated for Becky’s size and pain level and that the entire dose should be given.

Montana
Montana is getting chemotherapy and also some anti-nausea pills. When I reviewed his prescriptions, his owner reported she was giving half a pill twice daily rather than one pill once daily. She thought the anti-nausea effect would last longer if she gave the pill more often. The problem with this logic is the anti-nausea medicine stays around a long time, hence the once a day dosing recommended by the manufacturer. By giving half a dose, Montana may not have gotten a high enough level of anti-nausea medicine in the bloodstream to have a full effect.

Harvey
Finally, there’s Harvey and his chemo pills. He started a new regimen and I called a couple days later to see how it was going. Harvey felt great. I should have listened to my inner doctor voice saying, “Hmm, seems too good to be true.” Turns out his owner made an honest mistake, misread the label and was giving only one pill instead of two. Now he is on the correct dosage and is feeling better than ever since his tumor is shrinking.

Medication Pointers

  • Read the label. Read it again and if you have questions, call your veterinarian’s office.
  • Give the medication as prescribed on the label. Don’t adjust the amount, frequency or duration of administration without talking to your veterinarian.
  • If you are having trouble administering medications, stop by your veterinarian’s office for a lesson in administration.
  • If the medication schedule does not fit with your schedule, ask your veterinarian if there is an alternative drug with a different schedule.
  • If your pet won’t take a pill, ask if the medication comes in a liquid or can be formulated into a liquid to ease administration.
  • If you think your pet is having a bad reaction to the medication, stop the medication and call your veterinarian immediately.
  • For after-hours trips to the animal ER, be sure to take all the medications with you and show them to the ER staff.

Posted by: Ann Hohenhaus, DVM at 12:11 pm

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