Monday, March 28, 2016

Human Pain Meds Are Not For Dogs


In today’s world, accessing a vast array of information is extremely easy.  Ask a question on the internet and you will receive at least a hundred answers.  Discerning whether the information provided is correct, personal opinion or simply a tool to promote a particular product is not as simple.  A perfect example would be pet medications, among which are NSAIDs, medications to relieve pain in dogs.

NSAID’s are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that help reduce swelling, stiffness, and joint pain in humans.  Our over-the counter products are known, generically, as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirin, whose familiar manufactured names are Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Ecotrin, Ascriptin, and Bayer.  A number of prescription NSAIDs for humans are sold under the names:  Anaprox, Celebrex, Daypro, Feldene, Indocin, Naprosyn, Vimovo and Voltaren.

NSAIDs can also reduce swelling, ease stiffness, and alleviate joint pain in dogs.  But dogs are not human, and those NSAIDs in your medicine cabinet can actually do more harm than good.  There are a number of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs available just for dogs.  Some are Carprofen (Rimadyl, Novox, Vetprofen Carprieve, Quellin, Carprofen), Deracoxib (Deramaxx), Firocoxib (Previcox), and Meloxicam (Metacam, Loxicom, Orocam, Meloxidyl, Meloxicam).

When a guardian observes their dog showing signs of pain, I am sure some have considered giving their pet one of their own over-the-counter pain relievers.  Even though an NSAID may be safe and effective for humans, it may not be safe for dogs because it may last longer in the body, have a higher absorption rate in the stomach and small intestine, and can attain high blood levels.  These differences can cause toxicity resulting in severe liver and kidney damage and gastrointestinal problems for your companion.  Even veterinary drug products approved for one species, such as dogs, may be toxic to another species, such as cats.  Therefore, it is always advisable to consult with your veterinarian before giving any medication to your pet.

Aspirin may be one over-the-counter NSAID that your veterinarian might suggest giving to your dog for a limited period, but usually only if he has an injury or another short-term condition.  It is not recommended for long-term usage because of the greater potential of side effects.  Again, discuss usage with your veterinarian and follow any recommendations regarding dosage and frequency of administration.

There is no denying that the cost of medications for both humans and pets can be quite expensive and, for those on limited budgets, purchasing discount drugs with no prescription necessary through the internet may be quite enticing.  While there are sites that are reputable pharmacies, there are many more companies that sell counterfeit products, expired drugs, or make fraudulent claims.  If a pharmacy claims that one of its veterinarians will "evaluate" the pet after reading a form completed by the pets’ guardian, and will then prescribe a drug, it should be a “Red Flag” warning to you.  One of the best ways to purchase pet medication online is to order from an internet pharmacy service recommended by your veterinarian.  These licensed services work directly with the veterinarian, and require prescriptions be written by him.  They actively support your veterinarian- patient relationship.  In addition, do not hesitate to ask your vet if the medication can be purchased inexpensively through a regular “human” pharmacy in its generic form.

It is also important to realize there are many pet healthcare sites that freely give out incorrect and possibly harmful information.  When researching information, I would advise sticking to veterinary colleges and associations. 
Examples are The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) (https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/default.aspx), and Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine (http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/ClientED/categories.aspx).  If you do find an article on a medication that applies to your pet, be sure to check it out with your veterinarian.  What works for one animal may not actually help, or can potentially harm, another.  Incorrect dosage for size or breed, other drug interactions, your pet’s anatomy and physiology, and any chronic health issues play an important role on the ultimate well-being of your dog when giving medications. 


We are used to treating ourselves with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.  We should then be able to do the same with our pets, you might think.  Unfortunately, pet metabolism and physiology is different from ours, thus making it difficult, at best, to extrapolate from our own experiences.  Any OTC med, even if deemed “safe” for pet use, can have the possibility to do harm.  If you would not give yourself a potentially fatal or damaging drug without consulting a physician then, please, give your beloved friend the same consideration.  

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