Those of us fortunate enough to have pets in our lives often will do anything to keep them healthy. This frequently leads to using some kind of over the counter (OTC) product. These are products purchased and administered without a prescription and include medications, vitamins, herbals, and more. It is important to be well educated about the products, their contents, and conditions they truly help with. This article discusses the crucial element to proper OTC use: communication with a veterinarian.
OTC Pet Meds:
A few examples of OTC medications include diphenhydramine (Vetadryl), Panacur, and Zymox Otic. OTC medications are available without a prescription because they are generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE). However, this does not mean they are safe for every pet or situation. OTC medications are generally safe in dogs and cats when they are used for the right purpose, at a safe dose, and for an appropriate length of time. As a pet owner myself, I can attest to how I think I know what’s wrong with my pet but am not always correct. I personally make it a priority to ask my pet’s veterinarian for their recommendation before inquiring about a specific OTC product, and this always gives me comfort that my pet is receiving quality care at home.
It is important to at least give your pet’s veterinarian a call and talk to them when we are considering an OTC medication. They may note a disease or another drug which makes your pet a poor candidate for certain OTC treatments. It is also important to contact a veterinarian prior to starting an OTC medication because certain breeds react differently to medications. Veterinarians will know if your pet can handle the suggested dose, and how long they can be treated for. Sometimes OTC medications can cover up underlying diseases needing more rigorous treatment. If the veterinarian is unaware of your pet’s OTC medications(s), it can lead to inaccurate or delayed diagnosis. In summary, it doesn’t hurt to call your dog or cat’s veterinarian for recommendations about OTC medications and it may help prevent unnecessary complications.
Herbals, Vitamins and Supplement OTC Pet Meds:
Vitamin and herbal supplements can be tricky because it’s difficult to evaluate their quality and if a pet truly needs them. There is a major difference in quality between different supplements. Herbal products can be made from various parts of the plants, which can affect the amount and quality of the extract included in the product. There is also a difference in quality of the seed that is planted and how it’s grown, including if any chemicals were sprayed on it. Unfortunately there isn’t a real good indicator for animal supplements and their quality like there is in humans (the USP logo). This is where veterinarians play a key role because they have experience with various manufacturers and they can differentiate between the good and bad products.
Vitamins are controversial for OTC use because we often don’t know if our pet is truly deficient. While most vitamin supplements are unlikely to cause major problems, certain vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E have maximum limits that should not be exceeded due to toxicity. Piling vitamin supplements on top of nutritious food can cause a pet to have side effects, possibly even vitamin toxicity. Veterinarians are well equipped to decide if your pet is a good candidate for vitamin supplements. They can perform blood tests if you are concerned about a deficiency and recommend specific products for your pet. There is a possibility of a medication causing a nutrient deficiency, and a veterinarian can identify that. They also can evaluate your pet’s current diet and suggest a more natural way to incorporate vitamins and nutrients. The key to preventing nutrient deficiencies and some diseases is feeding our pets a quality, well-balanced diet, not adding supplements to a lesser quality diet.
Last, but not least, is the concern of cost for OTC herbals and supplements. Many supplements can be expensive, even the cheap ones can add up after a few years of use. The expenses can be worth their costs if they truly help your pet, which is questionable in most cases. Contacting a veterinarian before trying a supplement can save you money that could be dedicated towards more effective therapies which are proven to help your pet’s condition.
The take-home message about OTC Pet Meds:
Veterinarians are one of the most valuable resources and it is important to utilize them. Contacting a veterinarian before starting an OTC product in your pet can prevent complications, minor or severe. It can also provide your pet with a greater benefit because of the experience and knowledge your veterinarian has with animals and OTC use. The cost of an exam or consult with your veterinarian is likely to be tiny in comparison to the cumulative cost of ineffective therapies or having a veterinarian fix a problem caused by OTC use. In conclusion, it is important to view your veterinarian as a trusted resource, and appreciate their valuable input when using OTC products in your pet.
What OTC pet meds, herbals or samples have your pets tried? Did they seem to help the condition? Let us know which OTC products your pet’s veterinarian has recommended.