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Managing Your Dog's Medications

Source: PetWave, Updated on October 27, 2016
Medication Guide:

At the veterinary clinic, medications are regularly prescribed and dispensed in order to help pets get well, or perhaps they are needed to help your pet manage a chronic condition. Your veterinarian is the best source for information about your pet's medication, but the following checklist provides some important instructions about the handling and effective use of medications:

  • Keep all vials and tubes of medication out of reach of pets and children and store pet medicines separately from family medicines
  • Do not transfer medication to other containers once you take them home—keep them in the original packaging with the specific instructions
  • Once you have finished the prescribed treatment regimen, if there is left over medication return it to the clinic for safe disposal
  • If the symptoms of the condition worsen, or if generalized reactions (vomiting, diarrhea), or local reactions (scratching, redness, hives) to the medication occur call your veterinary health care team promptly
  • Mark the times and days of administration down on your family calendar so that other members of the family do not duplicate dosing, and to prevent doses from getting missed
  • Never use human medicines for your pet unless prescribed by the veterinarian because many common medicines are toxic to pets (ibuprofen for example)
  • Use the dosing instrument provided by the veterinary hospital since household measuring devices may be inaccurate (5 ml and one household teaspoon may not be equal)
  • Do not split or crush pills unless instructed to do so since some contain very bitter medicine inside the capsule/coating
  • Give medicine for as long as prescribed—stopping treatment early can have serious consequences (infection may return and be harder to cure, bacteria may get resistant to antibiotic)
  • Store all medicines away from heat, light and humidity
  • Make sure you understand what side effects may be expected if any, how to administer it safely and effectively (is it given by mouth, topical?), whether it should be given on an empty or full stomach, and if tapered dosing is being prescribed, make sure you follow these more complex instructions closely
  • When giving pills or capsules to cats, wash them down with a bit of cool water because cats tend to get dry medications stuck in their food pipe (esophagus)
  • If giving pills in a food treat, make sure the treat ball is not mixed in with the general meal since if the meal is not finished up, it will be hard to know if the pet has taken in the full medication dose
  • If the pet is not improving as fast as you would like to see, never double the dose—more is not better!
  • If you are giving medications by mouth, be careful you do not get bitten! Ask your veterinarian to demonstrate safe pilling technique; some pets require a plastic pill administrator to place a pill safely at the back of the mouth; some pets may require a second person to help steady/restrain the pet and this needs to be done carefully to protect both pet and people from injury
  • Make sure they swallow the pill.
  • Praise your pets when they are cooperative for medication administration to help ease the stress of therapy
Basic Care Topics
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