When you visit your doctor for treatment of an ailment, you expect to receive a prescription or two that will ease your symptoms and improve your overall health. You trek to the pharmacy, pull out your insurance card, pay your deductible and you’re on your way. But what if it isn’t you, but your beloved companion pet that needs a visit to the veterinarian? Depending upon the problem involved, your pet may need a veterinary medication. No insurance card to pull out here; the medication is included in your total bill. You expect to pay for yearly vaccinations and a physical exam, but if your pet is seriously ill or injured, only the skill of your vet and the necessary veterinary medications could save its life and ease its suffering.
Animals are just as susceptible to accidents, injuries and illnesses as we are. Plus, they have some unique veterinary medication needs like heartworm preventative, flea and tick control, and de-worming medications. Some animals, dogs in particular, are fond of swallowing things never intended by nature, and veterinary medication might be needed to help the dog pass the offending object. Cats get hairballs and feline leukemia, horses and farm animals need special vaccinations – the list is long. In a recent article, Dog Fancy magazine estimated the yearly cost of having one dog and providing it with good food, toys, a crate, a warm place to sleep, and veterinary care and medications to be over $1,000.
Veterinary Medications vs. “People” Medications
While veterinary medications have not been approved by the FDA for use by people, the opposite is sometimes true with animals. For example, some veterinary mediations commonly used with dogs and cats include Prednisone (a steroid), Valium, Carafate (a stomach soother), syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting, Robaxin (a muscle relaxer), Pepto-Bismol (dogs only), buffered aspirin (dogs only), acetaminophen (dogs only), antihistamines, milk of magnesia and petroleum jelly for cats with hairballs. In the past few years, the antidepressant Prozac has been very successfully used as a veterinary medication for dogs and cats that experience severe separation anxiety in the absence of their “human,” and also with older dogs that are otherwise healthy but have a touch of senile dementia and confusion.
Veterinary medications for pain relief among companion animals have come a long way. After spaying or neutering and other post-surgical types of pain, the medication Rimadyl is a specific for pain and swelling. Seriously injured animals may receive a narcotic injection every few hours. Acepromazine is a tranquilizing medication that acts as a sedative, especially with companion animals with separation anxiety and phobias to the loud noises of thunder and firecrackers.
Veterinary medications are not inexpensive. However, if you care for your pet’s health the same as you care for your own and the “human” members of your family, they can greatly increase the quality of life for your beloved companions.