What you should know about pet medications

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Cats love to play on the laptop!

The following article was written by Yee Ni Sung, pharmacy student at Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy:

As our rotation draws close to an end, Doris and I had the opportunity to shadow Dr. White, one of the many amazing PetMeds pharmacists. During my allotted time with Dr. White, I received a quick course on commonly used pet medications. The majority of the time, the incoming medication orders are for dogs and cats. I considered myself lucky when I encountered medication orders for a rabbit and a horse; these prescription orders left a lingering thought in my head this past weekend. While I wandered in the local store shopping for my dog Oscar’s new toy as a reward for finishing his obedience school, I found myself thinking about medications for pets other than dogs and cats. I stared into the reptilian cases and wondered what if I had a turtle? What medication would I use and how much should I use? When I returned home, I presented Oscar with his new toy and settled at my desk to do a bit of research on my laptop. Read More »

Managing hypertension in your dog or cat

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The following was written by Doris Garcia, pharmacy student at Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy:

Most of my adult life, I’ve spent being the bad cop towards my hypertensive father.
“Dad, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to have pumpkin pie for lunch”
“Don’t you think water would be better for you than a shot of espresso?”
“Those crackers are very high in sodium; why not try these unsalted whole grain crackers instead?”
It is truly tiresome, and sometimes you must pick your battles…

Growing up in a family with very little consumption of vegetables and a long history of heart disease, I too am at high risk for developing hypertension. As a pharmacy student who faces long hours of studying, I would frequently sip on espresso and energy drinks in order to cram. In my third year of pharmacy school, signs of pre-hypertension forced me into taking my own advice, the advice my father still neglects to take. I cut out all caffeinated beverages and lowered my sodium intake. Luckily my blood pressure readings stabilized. Read More »

Pet medications and your nursing or pregnant pet

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October is American Pharmacists Month. During this time, we are supposed to remind the American public of the value of their “neighborhood” pharmacist, and how beneficial it is for your overall health to get to know your pharmacist. However, there is little mention of the long road and hard work it takes to actually become a pharmacist. Pharmacy students have to spend thousands of hours learning about the body, how drugs affect the body, how drugs interact with each other, and how to prevent having these same drugs that are supposed to do good from causing harm. Read More »

How to determine the correct syringe for your pet’s insulin

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It's important to use the correct syringe for your pet's insulin

A syringe is a syringe, right? Actually, syringes come in different units of measure, different sizes, different needle length, different needle width, different, different, different! Giving insulin to a pet, especially if you’ve never done that before, is stressful enough without having to worry about giving the wrong dose. Unfortunately the body of an animal (or a human) is not so willing to forgive an insulin overdose. Hypoglycemia can and frequently does become life-threatening. Read More »

Do pets have the capacity to truly love?

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Many times in an extremely close relationship between two humans there develops a feeling of “oneness.” I have even encountered several people who have developed such a strong feeling of connection that it seems to include the whole of creation. Sometimes the question arises as to whether our pets have the ability to truly love and if they have a soul similar to that of humans. Most people who have felt or heard a cat purring when touched or a dog wagging his tail when near a certain family member would argue that animals do have the ability to love unconditionally. That being said, there are many people in the scientific community who would argue that pets only seem to love others in their “pack” simply as a survival instinct. Read More »

Childproof containers…for pet medications?

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It's important for even pet medication to be in childproof containers

Several times a month we get a request in the pharmacy from one of our customers to “Please place my dog’s heartworm preventative or other medication in non-childproof containers.” The main reason for this request usually stems from the human caretaker having a difficult time opening the container that holds the pet medication. Many times a client may have arthritis or other joint disease and, in at least one case that I’m aware of, the pet owner had lost the use of one of his hands in an overseas operation. Generally the pharmacist taking the call will have no problem honoring that request.

There are other times however when the caller begins the conversation with a general question about our safety enclosure policy: “Why do you put this medication in a bottle with safety caps? I can assure you that my dog is not going to get into the bottle and the days of us having young children around the house are long behind us.” This week I decided to address this topic so that I can hopefully shed a little light on the subject so that people can better understand the reason behind the use of safety enclosures. Read More »

Your pet’s medication and the “therapeutic window”

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Some medications have a narrow therapeutic window

Back when I was in school, one of my teachers wanted to explain something called “therapeutic window” to the class. My teacher explained that you could draw a graph and put one line above and call it “toxic dose above” and another line under the first line called “ineffective dose below.” The distance between those two lines is the level that any drug needs to be in to be safe and effective and is called the “therapeutic window.” This distance is different, depending upon the specific medication, essentially making some drugs safer than others in terms of dosing errors such as giving an inadvertent extra dose, or an accidental overdose by the pet. Read More »

Human Medications Can Be Toxic to Pets

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Pets metabolize medications differently than do humans

After I graduated pharmacy school in the 90’s I spent over ten years working in a hospital for humans. For many years I prepared medication for patients on the obstetrics floor, in labor and delivery, in pediatrics, in neonatal intensive care units, and for many other critical care patients that required extremely precise doses due to their fragility and the seriousness of their illnesses. All medications administered to any patient must be prepared with extreme care since errors anywhere in dosing and wrong drug administration can create a life-threatening medical emergency. In some patients however, any error or oversight no matter how small can have tragic consequences. That being said, many of the common medications that are dispensed regularly to some of the most fragile human patients can be deadly to pets, even in very small doses. Because of the way our pets metabolize medication, the huge variability in weight ranges, and the high level of individual sensitivities, medicating this group of patients requires an increased level of individualized attention and care. Read More »

Your Pet’s Immune System – Keep It Functioning

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Why do some pets seem healthy while others always seem to have health problems?

Many people who have several pets in the same household at times realize that some pets always seem healthy while others are constantly battling some sort of health problem. Illnesses also appear more frequently in those pets and last longer when they do appear. These illnesses could be anything from a mild cough, infections, skin disorders, to cancer or simply anything that makes our pet feel and act out of sorts or lacking in energy. This often makes the pet owner wonder why there is such a difference from one pet to the next.

Why does one pet seem healthy while another keeps getting sick? Read More »

Cisapride Use in Cats

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Cisapride is useful in treating may gastrointestinal problems in cats

In July 1993 a drug called cisapride was approved in human medicine for treating gastroesophageal reflux in humans. In January of 2000, cisapride was removed from the United States market by the FDA after reports of cardiac side effects such as rapid and irregular heart rate. In veterinary medicine there were never any such cardiovascular effects seen. The drug was extremely helpful in treating many gastrointestinal disorders so it continued to be used, primarily in cats. Read More »