Dog Medications - Everything You Need To Know About Dog Medication

How are medications used to treat my dog?

We use medications depending on what is wrong with your pet or what the problem is that needs to be treated. For instance, we use medication for allergies, itchiness, infection, or for pain. Those would be some broad categories.

Dr. Nichola Gaither
Animal Hospital of Statesville

What are some commonly used medications for my dog, and when would a veterinarian recommend them?

Antibiotics are one of the more common medications that we prescribe for pets. That would be, of course, for if they have a bacterial infection because antibiotics treat bacteria. In that same vein, if you have antibiotics leftover from something else, we recommend not to start using those. We would recommend reading the directions and giving medication as directed. Antibiotics would say, "given until gone," but give them as directed. That's a really common one that we run into, "I still have something left from last time."

Pain medication would be another one. I tend to say that you can give the pain medication as needed depending on the problem. If it's after surgery, then we want you to give it as directed because our pets hide pain, so they may not show that they're in pain. A lot of the pain medications we send help decrease inflammation after surgery and help control pain. But if it is for arthritis or for overactivity, and then it pulled a muscle or something like that, and you want to lower that dose and give less, and it helps the pet, then that's great.

Oftentimes in our cats or dogs, we think about ringworm. There may be topical or oral medications for antifungals. For parasites, we talk a lot about flea and tick medications given orally or applied topically. That would be another category. We sometimes use steroids for certain problems. Another thing is behavior modifying or sedating type things. So if your pet is, for instance, really anxious coming into the hospital, we may give some calming medications prior to coming in. We may prescribe those for you to give as they may need that at home for a regular steadying of anxiety. Chemotherapy is one that we do not do here, but our patients may be on those from a specialist. We don't do those here. It would just be given on a case-by-case basis, and most of those are required to go through the specialist to be used.

What are some of the side effects and adverse reactions my dog could experience from dog medications?

Even if a medication is prescribed for your pet at the appropriate dose, there can still be some side effects. Most of our oral medications carry the risk of vomiting or diarrhea. They're taken by mouth, so an upset stomach can be very common. Other side effects are sometimes acceptable and known. We warn clients that this might happen, for instance, with steroids. They may drink or urinate more or go to the bathroom more frequently. We kind of let you know that ahead of time so that you don't think something's wrong, but that's a known side effect that usually gets better as that medication is either tapered down or stopped.

What do I need to know about drug interactions with my dog?

It's very important that you let your veterinarian know about any medications that your pet is on because there are certain medications that don't work well together, or we wouldn't want to be given together. We would want to know that ahead of time. You could bring a list, or, as Kyle has mentioned previously, you could just bring that medication in, and we can look at the bottles ourselves or bring any veterinary records that you might have. Of course, if you're giving anything at home, on your own, don't be afraid to tell us because that's very important. That includes herbal supplements, vitamins, and that type of thing. Those would potentially be okay, but if you were treating pain with something over the counter, that could potentially be harmful to your pet. We would also want to know so that we don't give a medication that interacts with it.

Can my dog be on medication long-term?

Oftentimes, depending on the problem, they can and should be on long-term medications. There are certain medications, like antibiotics, that we don't necessarily want given long-term or inappropriately because of certain resistance that can develop or it may not totally clear the infection. There are certain situations where pain management might be needed long-term, so we do use them long-term.

Why is it important not to give my dog medications without consulting the veterinarian first?

Safety is the biggest reason for that. There are certain medications that you and I can take that are not safe for your pet. Even some at very low doses could be life-threatening for them. The other reason would be just to know that you're treating your pet appropriately. So even if the medication might be safe, it might not be the right medication for whatever's going on with your pet. Whatever you have leftover for pet A may not work for pet B's condition and vice versa. Other things, you shouldn't have any leftover, such as antibiotics, which should all be gone. You shouldn't have any leftover antibiotics.

What tricks can I use to give my dog medications?

If they're taking them by mouth, you can hide them in something tasty to get them to take it. Some other tricks are to give them a treat with nothing in it, hide the medication in the second, and maybe even have the third and fourth ready so that they're super excited, and they don't have time to think about the one with the medication. Maybe switch it up if you have a really smart pet. Put it in the third one and not the second treat. Some catch like that. We may also prescribe a different method of administering the medication. If it's a pet that doesn't take oral medication, we may find something that can be applied topically or even given as an injection.

I have one of those really smart dogs, so I can't hide anything. She sees me putting the pill in a pill pocket. So I just poke it and put it down. It's easier that way. But if you can't do that with a bity dog, you need to find these little tricks of the trade to give them medications.

Where should I get my dog's medications refilled?

Most of the time, we have a medication in our pharmacy to refill the medication that your pet may be on. We also provide an online store, where that can be shipped straight to your house. A lot of people like online shopping and ordering and the convenience of that medication showing up at your door. The good thing about the online pharmacy is that it reflects in your record automatically so that you have a record of that prescription being filled. We're not just sending a prescription off and wondering what happened to it.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 802-1280, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Medications - FAQs

Dr. Nichola Gaither
Animal Hospital of Statesville

Do I always need to seek the guidance of my veterinarian when giving my dog medications?

Since she's asking the veterinarian, the answer would be yes. Even if I wasn't asking the veterinarian, Google should say, ask your veterinarian.

Can I give aspirin or NSAIDs to my dog?

Great questions. There are different classifications of NSAIDs, which stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and while dogs can take aspirin, there are what we would consider better medications and potentially safer medications for inflammation and pain. You can't mix aspirin with some of the right medications that we would recommend that would be better. Aside from aspirin, a lot of the other non-steroidal over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen and some other things, could actually be very harmful and cause things like stomach ulcers that could even lead to a perforation of the stomach.

Are there any human medications that are safe for dogs, and what are the doses?

That sounds like a loaded question to me. But yes, there are a lot of human medications that we use for pets. The disclaimer would be that we would want to make sure that we're dosing your pet correctly for the problem that we're trying to treat. One general, common medication that's used at home, and I would still recommend checking with your veterinarian, but Benadryl is often given for itchiness, bee stings, and sometimes even just to calm or take the edge off as it does in people. Sometimes it can cause sleepiness. There are some medications, but without being prescribed for your pet, it's not something that I would necessarily recommend.

What medications can my veterinarian prescribe if my dog is in pain?

There are different categories of pain medication. One we touched on in the other video is the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, like aspirin. So the dog form of that would be Carprofen or Galiprant. There are a lot of different names for those different types of medications. That's one category. Another category would be Gabapentin, and Tramadol. Those are other types of pain medication that work in a different pathway, and they often work what we call synergistically, which means together. When you give more than one pain medication, if it's necessary to control pain, then you can give less overall pain medication, which is our goal because we don't want a pet to have a side effect or a problem with the medication. And then also there are other methods of helping pain specifically. We also offer the K laser therapy, which is not necessarily a medication, but it is a treatment for pain. And again, you can lower the actual medication you're giving your pet, making it safer overall.

What is the best way for me to give my dog medications?

If it's a medication by mouth, some will just take it. Some people tell me that anything they put in front of their dog, they're going to eat. So that's great if you have one of those dogs. If you have one like Kyle that's a little wiser to the tricks, you can put it down the hatch. It's still effective. We may talk about other ways to administer medications, whether it's an injection, a topical, or liquid versus pills. Sometimes we might have it formulated differently. Dogs can be tricky sometimes.

Where can I get medications for my dog?

From your veterinarian. That would be one option. Depending on what the medication is, we would be able to prescribe, and most things that we prescribe, we carry in-house. But there are certain ones that we would write you a prescription for or call that into a pharmacy where you and I would go to fill the medication, and you can pick up your pet medication there. You can fill them on the Online Store from here as well if you want to have them sent to you. But usually, you'd probably want to get it started, or at least get the first ones started, and then get your refills if necessary. If we carry it in-house, we would immediately prescribe it. One benefit is that you can get that before you ever walk out the door. If it was a medication that would be more long-term, we'd often recommend our online store just for convenience, or potentially a pharmacy locally that might carry that.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 802-1280, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.