Tuesday, January 19, 2010

People Drugs for Pets?

Did you know that your pets may benefit from some of the same medicines that you do?

There are some medicines for people that are safe for use with your pets as well. In fact, quite a few drugs that are prescribed by your vet are also used by our own doctors. Roughly 80% of the drugs used in veterinary medicine come from human medicine. More specialized treatments, such as those for cancer, are almost all either the same drugs used for people or are derived from them. Many of the drugs undergoing testing for FDA approval for use in people had initial safety tests performed on laboratory beagles. The so-called "off label" use of human drugs allows veterinarians to treat medical conditions, and species, that might not otherwise be priorities for big drug companies.

Veterinary students almost need to know more about pharmacology than their physician counterparts. This is because in human medicine all drugs are FDA approved and have undergone significant testing - but only for people. Vets must use limited information to treat other species with the differences in drug metabolism and action, and proper dosage. Today, vets have more options and better access to medications. Online retailers and specialty pharmacists have realized that pet medicines are a growing market which opens the door to more research and progress on the drugs themselves, more accessibility for these drugs and generic equivalents, and competitive pricing as well.

What medicines are safe for use in our pets? We will list some of the more commonly used human drugs that are safe for use in pets as well. I will also list some regular household items that have medicinal uses in pets and people, too.

PLEASE NOTE: This list is not intended to diagnose any problems or be a substitute for proper veterinary care. Please contact your vet before giving your pet any medication.

  • Aspirin: Aspirin can be given to your dog for pain and inflammation (NOT Tylenol or ibuprofin). Use no more than 80 mg for ten pounds of body weight and only once a day. Aspirin can irritate the stomach, so watch for any discomfort or dark stools. It's a good idea to give it with food to help prevent stomach irritation.
  • Benadryl: Benadryl is commonly used for dogs with allergy issues, both inhaled and contact allergies. Use no more than 1 mg per pound of body weight every 6 to 8 hours.
  • Pepcid AC: Pepcid is used to treat stomach upsets and dogs with acid reflux (yes, they get it, too). Check with your vet for proper dosage.
  • Kaopectate: Kaopectate is used to treat vomiting and diarrhea. Again, check with your vet for dosage information.
  • Dramamine: Dramamine is used for motion sickness. There is nothing worse than a dog that gets carsick every time you take him somewhere. Give 2 mg per pound of body weight no more than 3 times per day.
  • Metamucil: Metamucil is used to treat constipation. Use one teaspoon for every 20 pounds of body weight. Mix the powder in with their food.
  • Pedialyte or Gatorade: Pedialyte or Gatorade is used to treat dehydration. Dilute with equal amounts of water.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: Peroxide can be used to induce vomiting if your pet has ingested something he shouldn't have. Make sure to use the 3% solution (indicated on the label). Use one teaspoon for every 5 pounds of body weight. ALWAYS contact your vet, if at all possible, before using this treatment. There are some substances that can be ingested that should not be vomited up.
  • Robotussin: Robotussin can be used to treat kennel cough. If your dog is smaller than 20 pounds, use 1/2 teaspoon. For 21-40 pounds, use 1 teaspoon. For over 40 pounds, use 2 teaspoons.
  • Neosporin/antibiotic ointment: Neosporin can be used up to 4 times per day to help prevent infection on wounds or incisions.
  • Calamine Lotion: Calamine lotion can be used to treat itchy or sore areas and rashes.
  • Vicks VapoRub: Vicks Vaporub can be rubbed on your dog's chest to help ease breathing.
  • Anbesol: Anbesol is used up to twice a day to treat mouth or tooth pain. Do not use for more than two days without contacting your vet.
  • Contact Lens Saline Solution: Saline solution is used to flush out wounds. Simple saline is what emergency rooms use to clean out wounds.
  • Betadine: Betadine is a safe iodine used as an antiseptic for cuts to clean and prevent infection.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda is great for treating bee stings in pets and people. Mix baking soda and water into a paste and apply to the sting. Allow it to dry, then use a credit card or something similar to scrape out the stinger.
  • Corn starch/flour: Corn starch or flour are great at stopping minor bleeding, such as from a nail trimmed too short. Pack it on and it will stop the bleeding and absorb the blood.
  • Hydrocortisone: Hydrocortisone is helpful with rashes, insect bites, scratches or hot spots. Spread in a light layer over the irritated area to relieve itching or pain.

There are many other prescriptions for people that vets can prescribe for pets. When my sharpei came down with lymphoma, he underwent chemotherapy, took prednisone and another cancer drug that I had to get from a regular human pharmacy. The treatment protocol was exactly what would be used on a person. It worked beautifully. Without people drugs, he would not have survived for long.

Next time....we will take a look at drugs and substances that are toxic to pets.

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