Initial Comments about side effects when using drugs
All medications, even when used correctly, are capable of causing harm, usually in a tiny percentage of patients...it's important not to freak out if you read the warning labels.
The warning labels have to mention every possible known side effect, including those at large overdoses or those that are usually minor (such as GI irritatbility), or those that affect only a small percentage of patients.
Think of these warning labels as comparable to a "Slippery when Wet" sign on a highway bridge: You still go over the bridge...you just use extra caution when you do so.
On the other hand, casual disregard for the dangers of using potent medicines can be deadly for the patient. More about this subject soon
Medications don't work if you don't give them
Guide lines for medicating Pets:
We veterinarians are supposed to make reasonably sure that:
We've offered the most suitable medication for the patient given the restraints of costs, practicality, and potential benefits versus the potential harm.
That the pet owner has a good understanding of what they're supposed to do with the medication.
That the pet owner has a rough idea of potential problems with the medication so they can be on the look out.
That the pet owner is capable of giving the meds. An example of this are the many fractious cats I know I couldn't get a pill down twice a day ... why would I expect the owner to be able to do it?
That there are clear instructions available with the medication to prevent misunderstandings, screw ups, and counter poor memory.
Make sure the owner knows if the medication should be refridgerated, given with meals, without meals, and so forth.
Remember this project of getting your pet better is a team effort .... feel free to contact your vet and ask questions or report that you're having problems
You, the pet owner. are supposed to take your role seriously and:
Make sure you understand the label instructions and know what to look for if the medication has serious adverse affects
Know whether or not the medication should be refridgerated, given with meals, and so forth.
Be honest with your vet about whether you are likely to be able to give the medication. If your schedule makes it difficult or if the pet is simply difficult to handle; tell us so we can come up with plan B
Giving a Pill or Capsule :
Dogs: Have your dog sit at your side. Place one hand on the upper jaw and press the dog's lips gently against the sides of the teeth with your fingers.
With the fingers of your other hand, pull the lower jaw down and place the pill on the base of the tongue, far back in the mouth.
Close the mouth, return the head and neck to normal position, and blow on the dog's nose or massage his throat to encourage swallowing.
Any form of distraction (praising, stroking, etc) will also help to get the dog to swallow.
Some dogs are easier to medicate if you put the pill in a small amount of canned dog food, cheese, or peanut butter. Offer it to your pet and be sure that he swallows it. Some pets will appear to have eaten something only to spit it out when you are not looking.
Cats: Place a towel on a table and put your cat on the towel (this gives the cat something to cling to), or place the cat on your rug. Gently open the mouth and insert the pill at the back of the tongue. If your cat tries to scratch you, try wrapping its body and legs in a towel, leaving only its head sticking out.
If you cradle your cat in one arm, and place your thumb and forefinger on either side of its face, you can force the mouth open by applying gentle pressure at the space between the teeth. This should allow you to deposit the pill in your cat's mouth, preferably at the back of the tongue.
Next, return the head and neck to a normal position, massage your cat's throat, blow on his nose, or otherwise distract him until he swallows.
Administering Liquid Medication
Some medications are available in liquid form. Make sure that you tell your veterinarian if you have a preference.
Dogs and Cats: Gently pull the corner of the mouth away from the face to form a "pocket." Slowly give a small amount of the liquid.
Allow your pet to swallow before giving more liquid. Do not squirt all the mediation into your pet's mouth at once.
Applying Ear Drops and Ear Ointments
Before administering ear medication, the ears may need to be cleaned. Your veterinarian may recommend a cleanser, or you can use moistened swabs.
To apply the medication, push back the ear flap and gently position the applicator or tip of the tube in the base of the ear.
Discharge the number of drops or amount of ointment prescribed. Gently massage the base of the ear with your fingers to help the medication work its way into the ear canal.
Applying Eye Drops and Ointments
Before administering eye medication, be sure that the eye lids are clear of discharge. Ask your veterinarian if a special eye wash is needed, or you can use warm water on a cotton ball to gently cleanse around the eyes. Next, use your thumb and forefinger to open the eyelids. With your other hand, place the 1 to 2 drops or a tiny amount of ointment on the eye or the pink tissue around the eye. Your pet will blink and the medication will cover the entire eye. When applying medication to the eye, try to avoid your pet's direct line of vision when approaching, and avoid touching the eye with the container of medication.
·Be sure to give all medication as directed by your veterinarian. ·Be sure that you understand whether you are to give the medication until it is entirely used up or for a specified number of days. ·Be sure that you understand how the medication should be stored and special instructions for giving the medication. ·If you have any problems administering the medication, contact your veterinarian. ·If the condition worsens or does not improve as expected, contact your veterinarian.
MSDS (Medical Data Sheets) are FDA provided information about all FDA approved medications, pesticides and chemicals:
If you have concerns or curiosities about any medication or pesticide or chemical that your veterinarian recommends ... your veterinarian, by FDA regulation is supposed to be able to provide you ... if you request... with a MSDS ... Material Safety Data Sheet ...
Until the internet became so universal, this was a major headache; storing and organizing the hundreds of information sheets on hundreds of drugs and pesticides along with the hundreds of updates. Luckily, very few people asked for these Data Sheets. And for good reason .... it's like reading the tax code ... you're likely to go blind or die of boredom if you ever read one
Conversely, these Data Sheets might scare you to death since they list every possible bad thing that has ever been reported about the drug.
At any rate, the internet has made looking up information about a drug relatively easy. I've found the easiest way is to simply write into Google or Yahoo or other search engine the words ....
"MSDS for " and simply type in the generic or brand name of the drug in question.