Pet medications and your nursing or pregnant pet

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.

As a Clinical Affiliate Assistant Professor at Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy, I mentor students monthly that want to learn more about veterinary pharmacy. Yee Ni Sung is one of my students this month. From the first day of her rotation, Yee began asking questions… questions that showed a sincere interest in learning the differences between how drugs act in pets from the way they do in humans. Yee then proceeded to read all the topics that I had written about in the past to find one that I had not yet written about; she then offered to write about that topic.

During this American Pharmacist Month, I am very proud to have a student so driven to learn all the different aspects of her chosen profession. I am certain that Yee Ni Sung will one day become a wonderful asset to our profession and I believe that a community will one day have a sudden increase in overall value when Yee becomes their “neighborhood” pharmacist.

The following extremely important and interesting information was written by Yee.

Pharmacy intern Yee

As I walked past the pet shop this weekend, I couldn’t help but think how adorable the puppies and kittens were. The strong urge to bring them all home with me is always the first thought. Of course, I didn’t because I already have my beloved puppies and kitten waiting for me to get home from my errands. On my way home, I started to think of little clones of my puppies and kitten; then it dawned on me–we as humans worry about pregnancy and nursing in relation to medication. What should we as pet owners know about medications in the case of our pregnant pets?

There are many medications currently available as preventative therapy to keep our pets healthy. Medications such as selemectin (Revolution), ivermectin (Heartgard), and fipronil (Frontline) used for flea, tick and worm protection should be continued during your dogs’ pregnancy.

These medications are considered safe to use during canine pregnancy and will help prevent the chances of passing parasites on to puppies during birth and lactation.

Other medications that are considered safe to use during pet pregnancy include:

  • Thryoxine – used in the treatment of hypothyroidism in dogs.
  • Insulin – used in the treatment of diabetes in dogs.
  • Psyllium – used to promote gut motility as an ingredient in Metamucil.

Please note that breeding hypothyroid and diabetic pets should be avoided as these diseases are hereditary.

In certain cases, some medications can do more harm than good in a pregnant or nursing pet. For example, antibiotics such as tetracycline (Panmycin) and doxycycline (Vibramycin) have been shown to cause congenital defects in fetuses and are excreted into breast milk leading to defects in bone growth during development.

There are other medications that should be avoided in pregnant and lactating pets. Some include:

It is best to consult your veterinarian and/or veterinary pharmacist prior to administering pet medications to your pregnant and/or breastfeeding pets.

Other helpful information you should know about in caring for your pregnant pets include:

  • The duration of gestation for your pregnant pet: the gestational length in dogs is 63 days, and the gestational length in cats range from 58 – 63 days.
  • Exercise should be continued during pregnancy, but should not be too strenuous.
  • Extra vitamin supplements may not be necessary, but your pet should be fed high-quality nutritionally balanced foods. Extra calcium supplements should be avoided due to risk of causing eclampsia (an acute life-threatening disease).
  • Keep your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date. Vaccinations can help prevent your pets from developing diseases such as canine distemper, parvovirus, rabies and canine hepatitis. Exposure to any of these illnesses without proper vaccinations will place both your pet and the lives of the unborn litter at risk.

This advice is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you have any questions about your pet’s health please consult your veterinarian.  If you have any questions about pet medications please call your 1800PetMeds Pharmacist who would be happy to answer those for you.

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