The Most Common Pet Prescribed Medications
Wellness August 31, 2018

The Most Common Pet Prescribed Medications

Every pet owner fears a beloved pet getting sick or injured. However, beware administering human medications to your pet in order to treat an infection or ease their pain. Research from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns that many over-the-counter human drugs can be fatal for cats and dogs. In reality, small-animal toxic exposure due to administering dangerous medications to pets made up 75% percent of toxin exposure cases in U.S. veterinary offices last year.

This is why it’s imperative to bring your pet to the vet if he or she is sick, and to only give your pet medications approved by a veterinary professional when they are sick or injured. According to the AVMA, these are the most common veterinary-prescribed medications for cats and dogs:

1. Antiparasitics
Antiparasitic drugs are often prescribed by vets to treat a number of external or internal parasites—such as fleas, ticks, heartworm, giardia (or intestinal protozoans), and other intestinal worms (i.e., tapeworms and roundworms).

2. Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids (i.e., prednisone and dexamethasone) are steroid hormones naturally excreted by your pet’s adrenal glands. These steroid hormones are secreted in response to inflammation, low electrolyte levels, metabolism, stress, and threats to the immune system. However, sometimes vets prescribe a course of high dose corticosteroid treatment to treat allergies allergies and chronic inflammation (as anti-inflammatories) in cats and dogs. However, steroids should never be taken by pets long term, as they can cause weak bones and kidney issues.

3. Behavioral sedatives
If your pet is have behavioral issues (i.e., extreme anxiety) your vet may recommend a sedative to reduce those issues. For example, many pets take a one-time anesthetic medication (i.e., diazepam or midazolam) prior to veterinary appointments or surgeries in order to calm stress and reduce any chance of twitching during a procedure.

4. Insulin for diabetic pets
In diabetic cats and dogs, the foremost treatment is insulin via injection to regulate blood glucose levels in addition to dietary changes. If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, following your vets directions as far as insulin dosage and frequency, as well as maintaining regular blood sugar monitoring and feeding schedule at home is vital to safeguard your pet against hypoglycemia (or low blood sugar).

5. Synthetic thyroid hormones
The thyroid gland maintains hormone levels in the body to maintain healthy metabolism in both humans and pets. However, if your pet has hypothyroidism, a decrease in T4 and T3 hormones, he or she may often require life-long synthetic hormone therapy (i.e., methimazole or levothyroxine) and dietary changes to manage the disease. Synthetic hormones are prescribed based on pet’s current health and hormone levels so constant monitoring and drug compliance is imperative to pet health.

6. Heart medications
Cardiovascular medications (i.e., digoxin, vetmedin, atenolol, and theophylline) may be prescribed in pets in order to treat disorders that could result in cardiomyopathies (i.e., high blood pressure, pulmonary edema, arrhythmias, etc.) that could develop into congestive heart failure.

7. Antibiotics
Antibiotics (i.e., cephalexin, penicillin, trimethoprim-sulfa, and enrofloxacin) are specifically meant to treat bacterial infections in pets. For instance, they are not effective in the treatment of respiratory viruses in pets. Prior to prescribing an antibiotic, most vets will perform a culture and sensitivity test to the affected area (i.e, skin, ears, wounds, airways, or skin) to identify the specific bacteria present, in order to use the most effective antibiotic. However, pets should only be prescribed these drugs in moderation, as frequent use can result in drug resistance, gastrointestinal upset and development of autoimmune disease.

8. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (or NSAIDs) are often prescribed to treat an array of ould injuries, inflammation, joint pain, post-surgery pain, and age-related lameness in pets. However, prior to treating your pet with an over-the-counter NSAID, please always consult your vet for safe drug and dosage guidelines. When administered correctly, NSAIDs (i.e., meloxicam, carprofen, deracoxib, and firocoxib) are safe for pets, however, if given wrong, NSAIDs may lead to digestive upset, behavioral changes, rashes, vomiting, appetite loss, and liver and/or kidney damage.