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For most of us, our pets are family members. We protect them, and provide food and shelter. We educate them with training. We provide toys and discipline. They are dependent on us their entire life for care and love.
Like children we take them to see their doctor (veterinarian) on a regular basis for wellness exams and have them vaccinated to guard against disease. If they are ill, we seek medical care that might involve radiographs, ultrasounds and/or bloodwork. Sometimes it is necessary to give medications.
It is in giving medications, that we sometimes, in our desire to help, do harm. It is not an owners wish to hurt their pet but, unfortunately, this happens commonly. Because we care for them as family members, and they are family, sometimes owners give child doses of medications hoping to help. Unfortunately, this can have severe, and sometimes fatal effects. Many human drugs cannot be used in our pets. For the few that are safe, sometimes the dosing is considerably higher or lower.
There are some medications that one can use in a dog but not a cat. There are enough differences in the biological makeup of species that you should not use dog medications or products on your cat and vice versa without checking with your veterinarian first.
Some examples of common medicines that can be harmful are Ibuprofen (Advil) and Acetaminophen (Tylenol). These can cause kidney and liver failure even in small doses in dogs and cats. Occasionally, your veterinarian may recommend aspirin for your dog. Dogs can get gastrointestinal ulcers from aspirin, so use sparingly and only on direction from your veterinarian. Cats don’t handle aspirin as well as dogs, it has the potential to be toxic in cats. It is best to never give a cat aspirin.
Heartworms, fleas and ticks can be a serious problem for our pets. There are excellent products available to help provide relief from these pests. It is imperative that an owner follows the package directions exactly. Only use dog products on dogs and cat products on cats. Cats are very sensitive to some dog products and if used on your cat can be fatal. It is just as important to be sure of your pet’s weight, most of these products have a weight range. Be sure to weigh your pet, not just guess or estimate. If you have a pet too large for your scale, most veterinary offices have a walk-on scale for larger pets to get an accurate weight. Age is another factor to consider. There will be a minimal age for a pet to use a product, young animals sometimes cannot handle the product and can become ill if applied too early. Before using any flea or tick product be sure your pet is in good health. If your pet is pregnant or nursing always check the label to be sure it is safe for her. Sick or debilitated animals cannot handle many flea and tick products and their health can deteriorate after applying.
For your pet’s health and wellbeing, it is necessary to call your pets doctor BEFORE giving any medications. Do not share medications between pets. Many diseases and conditions can look similar but require very different medications and treatments to resolve.
Our pets rely on us for care and support. Give them the best life possible. They are our family, above all “do no harm!”
Dr. Nancy Schenck, D.V.M., of Four Loving Paws Veterinary Services, Inc., can be reached at 812-448-1415. If you have a question or pet-related topic for Dr. Schenck to discuss in an upcoming article, email it to email@example.com.__