Your veterinarian can only do so much, and so often a
dogís health suffers because owners donít follow
their veterinarianís advice. OK your vet isnít
always right, but medication not given canít do any
good, so you need to make sure that the right medication
(check the label every time) is given to the right
patient (if you have multiple Beardies) at the right
time(s), in the right amount and dosage form, by the
correct route of administration and for the right
duration of time. Owners should know what the
hoped for response to the medicine will be and how soon
they can expect to see it. They should be aware of
possible adverse reactions and appropriate actions to
take if they occur. If a recheck is scheduled make
sure you get there, and if a referral to a specialist is
recommended follow through on that too.
Here are some other
important things owners can do to make sure their
Beardie gets well and stays that way.
Know the generic and
brand names of the drug(s) your dog is getting.
Know why the drug(s) are being given. Know the
possible benefits and risks of generic substitutes.
For example these are generally cheaper, but may not be
exact replicas of the brand name drug. This seems
to be true of thyroid drugs, for example, where generics
do not always have the labeled amount of L-thyroxine so
the results arenít optimal.
Before you give any
drug make sure you understand all the instructions Ė
how to give it, how much, how often, and whether it is
best before, with or after meals Ė or if it doesnít
matter. Before you leave the hospital make sure
you have a demonstration of how to administer the drug,
and make sure you or someone else in the family is
capable of administering the drug in the correct
fashion. If necessary schedule trips to the
hospital so that the techs can medicate your dog.
Once again, if the dog doesnít get it, it doesnít do
any good. In this vein, get into the habit of
checking to make sure those Beardies with the silver
tongues that reach back down into their tummies
havenít spat the darned pills out. Like us, dogs
may experience pills stuck in their esophagus Ė which
they may cough back up later - so if possible have your
dog take a drink of water after you give him his pills.
Do remember to ask
which foods and liquids are compatible and more
importantly, incompatible with the medication.
Owners often like to try and hide medication in food,
and sometimes this can interfere with absorption or
change the chemical properties of the drug. For
instance, tetracyclines, including doxycycline, should
not be given with cheese. Unless instructed to do
so, donít add a drug to the drinking water. Dogs
donít usually drain the bowl so the amount of drug
delivered will be variable and probably inadequate.
The drug may also change the taste of the water and
If your dog is on
multiple medications it may help to put them in a daily
pill dispenser to make sure he gets everything every
day. Keeping a written diary of what was given and
when each day may also be helpful in making sure
everything is delivered at the right time.
If the therapy may
produce adverse reactions do not give it with food.
Bad tasting pills in the food or feeling nauseous or odd
may make the dog food aversive. Many conditions
result in anorexia as it is, and you donít want to
exacerbate that risk.
Do know ahead of
times what to do if you forget to give a dose or are
unable to give the medication at the prescribed time or
interval. Also ask what to do if you find a
rejected dose or if the dog vomits (ask about the timing
of this relative to medicating too). Make sure you
know about important side-effects of the drug.
Know how often they occur and which require returning to
the hospital or calling the veterinarian. Ask
about drug interactions, especially if the dog is on
multiple medications and/or herbal or vitamin
supplements. If you get the drug at a human
pharmacy they may list potential problems for humans
that could be different for canine patients.
If symptoms persist,
or especially if they become worse, or if new problems
arise, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian.
Do use the dispensing
spoon, syringe or cup given with liquid medicines.
Other devices Ė droppers, teaspoons etc. - may not be
as specifically calibrated. Keep medications in
their original container, and donít mix medicines, as
they may affect each other, and if you return to the
container later you may give the wrong pill.
Donít break of
crush capsules or pills unless instructed to do so.
If pills must be split always use a precision pill
splitter available at most pharmacies.
Medicines should be
stored correctly in terms of heat, humidity and light,
as this can affect potency is many instances. It
is important not to store medicines near stoves or other
heat sources, sinks or the bathroom. I know, we
all have ďmedicine cabinetsĒ in our bathrooms, but
think of the humidity from the shower, heat from the
hair dryer, and maybe youíll move the people drugs out
too! Donít leave cotton plugs in medicines once
you break the seal. Cotton can draw moisture into
the vial. Donít keep your Beardieís medicine
alongside people drugs. Itís too easy for you
both to get the wrong drug, even though I know youíll
now be reading the label every time you give a dose!
Itís important to
only give the scripted amount unless you have first
consulted with your veterinarian. Some drugs have
a very limited range of safety. Do not abruptly
stop giving the drug because the symptoms have cleared
up. It is necessary to slowly wean the dog off
some drugs. Other drugs need to be continued until
all the medication has been given Ė this is especially
true of antibiotics. Do call in refills in plenty
of time so that you donít run out of medication for
long term therapy. Examine each new batch
carefully. If it looks different or smells off,
immediately alert your veterinarian and/or pharmacist to
While the expiration
dates on most drugs are ultra conservative, do consult
your veterinarian if the drug has passed its expiration
date. If any drug has changed color, absorbed
moisture or otherwise obviously degraded discard it
carefully. If an old condition recurs, always
consult your veterinarian before starting to treat with
drugs on hand.
Finally, do not give
an over-the-counter or on-line product to your Beardie
without first consulting with your veterinarian to make
sure that it is safe and effective. Even old
stand-bys may present a problem. For example
Kaopectate was recently reformulated and the new formula
may be toxic to some dogs.
Always put your
dogís safety foremost, follow directions, and if the
veterinarian did her/his job of diagnosis correctly, you
should have a happy healthy Beardie who continues to
bounce into his/her golden years