Category Archives: Pharmacy Blog

How to prevent pet medication errors

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Become a well-educated pet owner

Since 1951, the most popular accreditation organization for health care facilities has been The Joint Commission. This organization in a lot of ways sets many standards in the health care field, and helps ensure that patients are getting the highest possible quality of care in certain medical facilities. Places like hospitals, home care agencies, psychiatric facilities, and ambulatory care centers all strive to get and keep the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval. Needless to say, The Joint Commission knows quite a lot about making healthcare safer for the human patient.

In veterinary care, we also have similar organizations such as the NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) and their Vet-VIPPS program, which also has an accreditation process. Similar to the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval, online veterinary pharmacies strive to get the Vet-VIPPS seal in order to demonstrate their commitment to their patients’ health. Other organizations such as LegitScript also give their seal of approval to facilities who have agreed to strictly adhere to certain laws and regulations. In healthcare, the patient or client who is not a medical professional is very much dependent on the trust they have in the whole system and its medical practitioners. Agencies such as The Joint Commission and Vet-VIPPS fulfill a vital role in helping the patient bridge the gap of knowledge and sort through a lot of undecipherable and confusing facts to make a selection based on proven standards rather than on the toss of a coin. Read More »

Does your pet need a fatty acid supplement?

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Fatty acids help keep your pet's coat shiny and healthy

The word amazing is used and overused way too much these days.  A new cell phone, a new camera, a new car, anything that is new or different inspires people to walk around saying “It’s amazing!” What I find interesting is that as we look around us and try to find amazing things, we sometimes miss the fact that the most amazing thing of all is actually us. Our bodies and the bodies of other mammals are truly a work of wonder that function better than any man-made machine or gadget. Our bodies have a truly amazing way of regulating itself, fixing itself, creating things, and doing other fantastic things on its own without anyone’s input. Better than any chemistry experiment, our bodies can take one substance that is useless and convert it into something that the body can use. However, there are some substances that seem to be of benefit but for some reason, mammals do not synthesize in sufficient quantities. An example of this is omega -3 and omega -6 fatty acids. Read More »

Spinning out of control: could your dog have OCD?

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Tail chasing, running in circles, or snapping at nothing might seem funny to an observer not familiar with compulsive behavior in animals, but the reality is nothing to laugh about. I was visiting a friend this past weekend and most of the time I was there, his dog was running in circles after his tail. My friend from college was hysterical laughing at this odd behavior and he claimed that his dog does this all the time. Although normal and healthy dogs do sometimes run in circles, bark at the air, and engage in other excessive uncontrollable behaviors in response to a particular trigger, a dog suffering from obsessive/compulsive disorder may begin these behaviors without a trigger and medical literature suggests that the “patient” actually loses the ability to stop the behavior on their own. When I suggested to my friend that his dog couldn’t stop this behavior even if he wanted to, his response was “How do you know that he even wants to stop?” Point well taken, I kept my opinions to myself after that. I’m not trained in diagnosing illnesses but it does seem more difficult to diagnose mental or emotional diseases in pets than in humans since pets can’t clearly describe their feelings and intentions. The thing is that when a particular behavior starts to interfere with the normal life or the health of a pet, it is absolutely time to make an appointment with the veterinarian for a proper evaluation. Read More »

Your dog’s head shaking: a sign of trouble?

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Excessive head shaking can have a number of causes

Almost every pet owner is familiar with the shaking that occurs after liquids get on our pet’s head. That energetic shaking that splashes water everywhere makes it quite impossible to finish giving our dogs a bath without us also getting thoroughly soaked along with them. There is a secret that nobody talks about though—the secret is that, although we sometimes complain about getting wet with the dog, most owners secretly love it when this happens! Most people, including me, consider this part of the fun and excitement of owning a pet. It also provides particular amusement to family members who witness the event from far away, and usually much laughter ensues.

There are times however when head shaking is a cause for concern. When a pet continuously shakes his or her head without an apparent reason, it could be an indication of a possible ear infection, inflammation, or even the result of an uncontrolled allergy. Since allergies are among the most common causes and often even predispose the pet to infections and inflammation in the ears, we’ll start with that topic. Read More »

Cats fighting? How to re-establish peace

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Cats are territorial

The neighborhood pet back when I was still living with my parents was a bicolor cat with beautiful black markings along the top of his back and around his tail. His long white hair always seemed well-brushed and he had a petite, fragile appearance that made him look adorable. His wonderful temperament and sweet look earned him the name “Mignon” from the patisserie owner, Mr. Martine. Mignon (which means “cute” in French) would run from neighbor to neighbor throughout the day to greet people and to collect as many snacks as he could. Who would think that Mignon could be anything but sweet and gentle? Read More »

Are these in your home? Prevent a pet poisoning

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Take your pet to the vet if you suspect ingestion of something toxic

Last Wednesday, while on my lunch break, I noticed that I had missed several calls from my friend Colin. He had left messages about the urgency of his situation and that I needed to get in touch with him immediately. When I called him back he started asking me if we carried something called vitamin K here at 1800PetMeds. Apparently Colin was concerned that his cat may have ingested some rat poison and wanted to treat the cat without proper veterinary guidance after doing some “internet research.” Since vitamin K is the clotting ingredient that gets disrupted when an animal has ingested an anticoagulant, he felt that simply giving this medication would be the answer. Since we don’t carry vitamin K and treating a cat poisoning at home is never recommended, I strongly suggested that he immediately take his cat to the veterinarian. When Colin noticed that his cat had stopped eating and drinking, became weak, had pale gums, and was having difficulty breathing he realized that ne needed to take the cat in for a checkup. It was lucky that he went in when he did, because the cat not only needed to get a vitamin K injection but he also needed intravenous fluids and a blood transfusion. Had he not taken the cat to receive the proper treatment, this poisoning would have most likely been fatal. Read More »

How misuse of antibiotics puts your pet at risk

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It's important to give antibiotics exactly as prescribed

My dog Duke is getting old. My children look at his face and see his graying hair and half jokingly remind me that he has changed quite a bit over the past couple of years. If it’s simply a cosmetic matter it wouldn’t be of much concern, but Duke has also been getting more illnesses than usual. A few months ago he developed a staph infection on his hind leg and last week he developed a respiratory tract infection. Both of these infections required antibiotics to clear them up. Although pets can get infections at any age, when they get older the immune system begins to weaken a little and their ability to fight bacteria is diminished.

The very word “infection” sounds scary, especially in relation to your pet’s health. But just what is an infection? An infection is caused by the presence and multiplication of an organism that causes disease. These disease-causing organisms are everywhere, and under most circumstances when these organisms invade our pets, the pet’s immune system is sufficiently strong to wipe them out. There are other times, however, when they are present in sufficient quantity or the pet’s immune system is not working optimally, that these organisms begin to cause illness. Basically, the body gets overwhelmed and these organisms begin producing toxins that cause symptoms in our pets. Read More »

Could you be giving your pet the wrong dose?

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Proper dosing of pet medications is important

It was my first job as a pharmacist in Central Florida, and my technician at the time was also newly registered when he was handed a prescription for amoxicillin liquid for a child. He looked carefully at the prescription and somehow misinterpreted “tsp.” as tablespoonful instead of teaspoonful. If this medication had gone out like that, the child would have received three times the dose that the doctor intended for him to have. Doctors are now encouraged not to abbreviate common words, but nothing replaces experience and understanding of how certain medications are given in the prevention of errors. Read More »

Urinary incontinence—there is a solution

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Proin is often prescribed for dogs with urinary incontinence

Incontinence, or the loss of the ability to control the bladder, is not only quite common in humans but is also very common in dogs. This condition is the cause of much stress to pet owners with the task of caring for a pet suffering from it. Inappropriate urination is one of the top reasons why many pet owners resort to the unthinkable solution of surrendering a beloved dog rather than attempting to deal with the problem. In some cases, families can become disrupted to the point of tension which often results in strained relations. Once identified, dog incontinence must be dealt with, and dealt with quickly. To begin, it’s important to understand what causes bladders to leak and not work as they are designed to. Read More »

Pet allergies—nothing to sneeze at

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Pets can suffer from allergies, too

Allergies affect people of all ages and can produce a variety of symptoms ranging from mild inconveniences such as red itchy eyes on one end of the scale all the way up to full blown anaphylactic reactions that can affect breathing and be life-threatening on the other end. Most of us pet owners know too well that some people are sometimes prevented from visiting us because they are allergic to our pets. My brother recently developed a cat allergy and he stopped coming over to visit until he found a temporary solution in the form of an antihistamine. After trying a variety of different medications he found one called loratadine, which is an antihistamine that works temporarily to suppress allergy symptoms.

The most common antihistamine that is used for allergies, however, is called diphenhydramine (Benadryl). This drug is extremely effective at suppressing the allergy symptoms, but it does have sedating properties. Most people who take diphenhydramine quickly find that their sneezing is replaced by yawning, neither of which is good to have while playing board games with the family. Loratadine (Claritin) on the other hand does a wonderful job at suppressing allergies but does not cause much drowsiness. Other antihistamines for humans include drugs such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), Chlorpheniramine, Desloratidine (Clarinex), and some others. Some of these have longer action, and some cause less drowsiness. Since product selection between these antihistamines could involve many factors including the potential of drug-drug interactions, it is extremely important to consult with a doctor or pharmacist before initiating therapy. Read More »