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May 26 2017

Why does my pet need bloodwork to get that medication?

I was recently speaking with one of our valued Grafton Animal Hospital clients who informed me that he had a kidney transplant within the last year.  I was very surprised to hear this considering he is probably only in his late 20’s.  I had to be nosey and inquire as this just did not seem normal.  Turns out, he played sports in high school and was prescribed pills to help with pain.  And sometimes, he would take extra pills if he was in extra pain.  When I heard his story, I was able to easily relate it to conversations I have had with pet owners over the years.

We often prescribe pain medications to pets that are older and/or have chronic pain.  These NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) work wonders for pets that have arthritis.  In fact, we have seen older dogs that suddenly are running around like puppies again.  However, according to Dr. Raiff, veterinarian at Grafton Animal Hospital, “All medications have side effects.  As we get older, our organs don’t function as well.”  These medications most often affect the liver and kidneys, and this is why we ask you to run routine bloodwork for your pet for continued use.  Because the medications can be costly, many clients are upset over the costs of running bloodwork for their pets once or twice a year.  Dr. Raiff suggests talking to your veterinarian if these costs are not in your budget.  There are sometimes options to use a drug that doesn’t require bloodwork as frequently.

While on the subject of NSAIDs, I want to remind all pet owners of the dangers of using these in your pets.  There are many NSAIDs that are available over the counter for people.  Let me say that again . . . FOR PEOPLE.  We are all familiar with Aspririn, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc.  which work wonders on our aches and pains.  A very informative article at the Food and Drug Administration’s website sums it up briefly.  “Dogs are not small people.”  Animals process medications very differently than humans.  And while some medications are approved for both pets and people, the dosing is usually much different.  My 15-pound pug and I take the same allergy medication, and at about 10 times her size, I only take twice as much as she does.  A dog my size may have to take 6 or more tablets of the same drug.  NSAIDs made for humans, however, can cause liver damage and red blood cell problems, even in just a couple of doses, leading to illness or even death of your pet.

Bottom line: if your pet is in pain, consult your veterinarian.  We can talk to you about the options of using an NSAID versus a pain reliever, and the costs of monitoring your pet’s health through routine bloodwork.  If you are considering using any OTC drug for your pet, please just call any of our staff at (757) 898-8433 so we can advise you on the safety of the medication and the proper dose.  Keep in mind that giving your pet an OTC pain reliever may seem like a cost effective method, when, in reality, the side effects could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in emergency care.  Don’t hesitate to ask us first.

Read the FDA article at this link:  https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm392732.htm#Balance

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