Safe Pet Meds?
November 23, 2007 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Two Part Pet Question: Is there such a thing as a safe medication for pets? AND Is there an online database that can educate me on safe med/health practices?

Call me crazy, but just tell me I'm not the only one worried about medications.

My 16 year old dog just had surgery to remove a tennis ball sized tumor on her side. So now she's got some medications to take and I'm worried about possible effects on her health.
I'm generally nervous about medications, human and pet alike. At the suggestion of a vet I met recently on a trip, I've been reading books that uncover some nasty things about the pet food industry, and get the general impression that pet industries are fairly unregulated and downright unsafe at times.
It's not that I don't trust vets specifically. I just want to know exactly what I am giving to my pet.

The vet prescribed Cephalexin so she won't get an infection and she's already on Deramaxx for arthritis pain. I've looked up some information on these but do any of you know where there is a non-commercial website that can give me a full idea of what I'm getting into with these meds??
posted by apfel to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
I once heard it pointed out that most human medicines were tested on animals in some capacity before they were given to humans...that's always a starting point. If you'd like to read studies that were done using various meds, pubmed would be a good bet.

Hope your dog has a swift recovery!
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:51 PM on November 23, 2007

Most pet medications have a human equivalent, and some are actually the exact same medications as what humans take, just with a different dosage. So yes, to answer your main question, there are safe pet medications. You can try looking up the brand names and/or generic names of the medications on Wikipedia fo basic information.
posted by amyms at 7:57 PM on November 23, 2007

Believe it or not, the FDA regulate pet drugs through the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

If you want reliable information about those drugs in dogs, that's a place to start.
posted by 517 at 8:03 PM on November 23, 2007

Cephalexin is a general antibiotic. It's approved for people (in the US), which is about the highest standard available at the moment. Deramaxx is an anti-inflammatory drug (an NSAID), and is FDA-approved for dogs.

In the US, all drugs intended for people must be examined in at least two species if animals, IIRC, and those often include dogs or cats. This drives much of drug R&D for veterinary use, meaning that many of these drugs were not developed with your dog in mind, yet have been fairly well researched.
posted by zennie at 8:10 PM on November 23, 2007

Mum, who works at a chemist, was getting gloucosamine powder ( and anti-inflamitories ect ect) for the old girl from work rather than at the vet. (Better quality and a staff discount!)

She mentioned chatting to the Pharmacist who said that vet stuff *was the same* as people stuff. (Obviously vet stuff is a crappy-er grade) You would need to be sure they were identical preparations. The name of the active ingredients don't change and you'd just need to look at the other junk in it too :) (not hard to do and I get the feeling you would anyway)

But what might be tricky is any stuff that you need a script for - because you'll need a script...?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 8:13 PM on November 23, 2007

Veterinary medications are as safe and healthy as human medications. The majority of them are in fact the same exact formulations. Whether this is good enough for you is another question.

To some extent, I think you need to trust your vet more than you trust your doctor when it comes to medication. After all, when you take medication, you often have a sense of whether or not it is working, or if it is causing side effects, or if it is wearing off too early, or whatever. It can be much harder to know how your pet is feeling and reacting to the medications. If you don't trust your vet, well, look for another one. Just as with human doctors, there are some vets that are fully in the pocket of the pharmaceutical companies, and rush to prescribe whatever their Pfizer rep is pushing, and there are other vets that are conservative and cautious with their treatments, and are maybe willing to try non-medical approaches first.

Please don't rely on the Internet for medical information. For your pet's sake, any decisions you make about medication should be made in conjunction with a veterinarian.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:43 PM on November 23, 2007

Cephalexin is a pretty standard antibiotic.

If you're worried about the quality of "pet" meds, you can always get the prescription filled at a regular (human) pharmacy, assuming you're in the U.S.
posted by neckro23 at 9:18 PM on November 23, 2007

This site has basic information, in layman's terms, on commonly used pet medications. If you have questions about what your vet is prescribing, you should call the vet's office. Your vet should be happy to discuss your concerns and explain the whys and wherefores of the treatments prescribed. And don't feel silly calling right after an appointment or hospital discharge; a good vet and well-trained office staff will understand that questions and worries often occur once you get your pet home and are on your own.
posted by weebil at 9:43 PM on November 23, 2007

It's worth noting that the FDA approves medicines for dogs and cats under a different heading because there ARE differences in what dogs and cats and humans can take as far as side effects go. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are great examples; both will have very negative effects on dogs' systems while they're fine for humans.
posted by SpecialK at 9:57 PM on November 23, 2007

I say all this as an oncology RN and elderly pet owner (not a vet) who has used similar medications with humans not pets, so take it (and everything else in this thread) with a grain of salt:

I'm guessing some of your concern for Deramaxx may be about the possibility for liver toxicity. Many drugs, including antibiotics, have the potential to be toxic to the liver and / or the kidneys if used in excess. That is because those organs filter out the left over chemicals after the drug has been metabolized.

You can ask you vet to do a simple blood test to check the function of both these organs: a "liver function test" for the liver, and creatinine levels for the kidneys. This is how some drug toxicity is monitored in humans. Your vet may already be doing this.

Signs of liver toxicity you can watch for are changes in skin color or poop (esp. a yellow hue in the white of the eye or maybe on their belly where there's no hair), changes in the texture of the poop, and if sleeping seems excessive.

Older people are more sensitive to medications so I'm guessing older pets probably are as well. Your vet probably took this into consideration when they prescribed these meds. Your vet should really be your primary source of information here because they are the most familiar with the details of your dog's health. Prescriptions are weight based for your pet.

Drugs are not inherently bad. Medication often works well, that's why it's used so much. Whenever a drug is prescribed the doctors and the pharmacist measure the risks verses the needs. Post surgical infections and infections in the elderly are just as serious risks, if not more so, then the side effects of these meds. As with all antibiotic prescriptions follow the course completely to the end so drug resistant strains of bacteria are not developed.

Post surgical inflammation and the pain that comes with that can be very serious also. If uncontrolled, pain can prevent healing.

The internet, while a wealth of info, can be dangerous with medical / pharmaceutical advice. Your vet should be the primary source of information. Ask them, ask them, ask them, ask them. Trust your instincts with your dog because you know her behavior more than anyone. Best wishes - I hope she recovers well.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:18 AM on November 24, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the info. I really appreciate it and am more at ease. I suppose I've been succumbing to scare tactics, but generally being familiar with well documented side effects is pretty important.
My dog's old, and fairly fragile, so it's a bit scarier than if she was a healthy young'un.
Thanks again.
posted by apfel at 9:13 AM on November 24, 2007

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