Whether needed short-term or long-term, dog medications can be critical for your dog’s health and well-being. Veterinarians prescribe medications to treat chronic illness or pain similar to those given to humans, but with different dosages and with careful attention to any interactions if your dog takes more than one medication. If your dog has recently been diagnosed with a chronic condition that will require long-term medication, you likely have questions, so we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about dog medications here.
If you still have questions about medicine for your dog, and are in the Owings Mills, MD area, please call us at (410) 807-8193.
How are medications used to treat my dog?
Dog medications come in pills, ointments, liquids, and injections. They help treat diseases and symptoms, support your dog's overall health, and can be a critical part of preventive care.
What are commonly-used medicines for dogs, and when would a veterinarian recommend them?
Veterinarians use very similar products to those prescribed for humans, with each medication proven to be both safe and effective for dogs. However, we should point out that you should never give your dog your own medicines, as you could cause your dog serious harm or even death.
There are various medications prescribed for dogs depending on the circumstances and the symptoms your dog is experiencing.
Commonly-used dog medications include:
- Pain medications
- Preventatives for fleas, ticks, and heartworm
What are some side effects and adverse reactions my dog could experience from these medicines?
While it depends on the medication, a common side effect is gastrointestinal upset. This is especially true if your dog takes antibiotics or antifungals, which you should give with a meal to avoid vomiting, upset stomach, or diarrhea. However, side effects are typically minimal, especially if you're administering the medications with a meal and using the correct dosage.
What do I need to know about drug interactions?
Several medications interact with one another, so you must communicate any medications your dog is currently taking or has recently taken before your veterinarian prescribes a new one—especially if you’re seeing a new veterinarian who isn’t familiar with your dog. It’s also essential that you communicate any adverse history your dog has with certain medications, so your veterinarian can avoid another reaction. If your dog takes medications that don’t interact well with each other, it could cause an upset stomach. That could lead to the medicine not being absorbed well enough, or it can even make the medication absorb too well and cause an overdose.
Can my dog be on medication long-term?
Your dog can be on some medication indefinitely, but some others should be avoided long-term. Long-term medical problems often require long-term medication, such as the medications we give to control serious disorders like seizures. Arthritis is another condition safely managed with long-term medication, with blood work done regularly to assess liver and kidney function. Short-term medication is used for cases like pain management, which is only needed post-surgery or when an injury occurs.
Why is it important not to give my dog medications without speaking to the veterinarian first?
It is vital that you don’t administer any medication to your dog without consulting a veterinarian first, as doing so could do more harm than good. Although there is some crossover with human medications, they are not given at the same dosage and dogs absorb them differently. In particular, we never recommend that you give your dog something you’ve purchased over the counter to control pain. It can end up causing gastrointestinal ulceration or even kidney failure. Always consult your veterinarian first.
What tricks can I use to give my dog medicine?
There are many tricks to help you successfully give your dog medication. Most dogs love treats, so try inserting their medication into a soft treat. Peanut butter is also a great way to get medicine into your dog, sticking it in the roof of their mouth with the pill included. There are pill pockets, which are soft treats that have space to insert a treat. Marshmallows also work well, and your dog will thank you for the tasty treat. As with their regular diet, be mindful of any known food allergies in your dog. If your dog isn’t one to fall for food-based tricks to take their medication, you can purchase a pill popper. To use it, you place the pill in the soft rubber tip, open your dog's mouth, and pop it down the back of their throat.
Where should I get my dog's medications refilled?
Most of the time, your dog's medications will be filled and refilled at your veterinarian's office. At Owings Mills Veterinary Center, we can call some medications into a human pharmacy or an online pharmacy. Always use the online pharmacy recommended by your veterinarian, as there is no guarantee where medications are coming from if you use a different one. They could also be selling counterfeit medications. You always want to be as safe as possible with your dog's medications, so get them from your veterinarian directly or their approved online pharmacy. This FAQ from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides additional information about pet prescriptions and pharmacies.
If you have further questions about dog medicine and you live in or near Owings Mills, MD, call us at (410) 807-8193.