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Pet Medications

Part of being a responsible pet owner is overseeing your pet’s health at all stages of their lives. Just like humans, pets may need medication to manage, treat or even cure medical disorders. While many of the drugs given to pets are the same as those used in people, there are also veterinary specific drugs that are flavored to make them more palatable for the animals. Medication can be as simple as OTC flea and tick prevention or a necessary prescription for relieving pain.

Common Pet Medications

Below is a list of the most common types of medication used in dogs and cats. Keep in mind this is not a complete list of all the medications that are used in veterinary medicine.

  1. Antibiotics - These drugs are used to treat infections that are caused by bacteria. Examples of these products include penicillin and cephalexin. Rilexine® by Virbac is an example of an antibiotic that comes in a flavored chewable tablet.
  2. NSAIDS or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories - These drugs are used to control inflammation, stiffness and pain. Many of these drugs come in flavored tablets or soft chews including Deramaxx® by Elanco and Metacam® by Boehringer Ingelheim.
  3. Narcotic Pain Relievers or Opioids - Strongest pain medicine prescribed by veterinarians and only used short term for extreme pain. These drugs are considered controlled substances because of their addictive quality and include hydromorphone and oxycodone.
  4. Steroids - These drugs are used to suppress inflammation by reducing swelling or used to suppress the immune systems for such issues as itching and allergic reactions. Examples include prednisone and dexamethasone.
  5. Antiparasitics - Parasites are bugs (like fleas, ticks and worms) that live in or on a pet and can make them sick. Medications that prevent, repel or kill these bugs are called antiparasitics. Trifexis® and Comfortis® by Elanco are examples of flavored flea and tick tablets and soft chews. Triheart Plus® by Merck and Interceptor® by Elanco are flavored tablets and soft chews that prevent/control worm diseases.
  6. Condition specific medications - Health conditions that require specific medicines include insulin for diabetes and Vetmedin®, a flavored chewable tablet made by Boehringer Ingelheim for congestive heart failure.

Side Effects/Adverse Reactions

While medicine can keep your pet healthy and comfortable, there can be side effects or adverse reactions. It is very important to read all information your veterinarian gives you about any medication and follow dosing instructions exactly. You should also ask your veterinarian what side effects/adverse reactions to look for. Some common side effects/adverse reactions include vomiting and diarrhea especially if it includes blood, lumps, skin irritations, trouble breathing, problems urinating, lethargy and weakness. If you suspect your animal is having a negative reaction to any medicine, call your veterinarian immediately.

Long Term Medication

At some point in your pet’s life, a veterinarian may prescribe medicine that needs to be taken for an extended period of time or for the rest of a pet’s life. If that is the case your pet will need to be monitored to make sure the drug is working and that there are no harmful side effects. Monitoring may include regular veterinary checkups, blood tests, urine tests or other tests your veterinarian deems necessary.

Medicating a Pet

Keeping your pet healthy is one of the most essential jobs of a pet owner. During a pet’s life, it may require medication to treat a medical condition. It is important to make sure you understand why your pet needs the medication, how to give the medication, the duration of the medication and the side effects/adverse reactions of the medication. Animals are wonderful companions and they deserve the best care possible.