Drugs don't come without side effects.
Some side effects are more common than others, some rare ones can be quite severe. Experience has taught me to study the product sheet for any medication I give my dogs. I ask the prescribing vet and research how common some of the serious side effects may or may not be.
Jasmine's vet used to say that a drug with no side effects is a drug that won't do anything else either—is useless.
One reason for that is simply that they are imperfect in a way that they affect things other than those they target. NSAIDs, for example, inhibit enzymes involved in inflammation. (Different types of NSAIDs target different enzymes.) However, those very same enzymes have other jobs that get inhibited in the process.
Then there is always the potential of an allergic reaction to any substance. Most common side effects of any oral medications are digestive disturbances because it is the digestive system that has to process and absorb them. Drugs work like carpet bombing; there will be casualties. The day when scientists develop medications that will do only what they are intended to is yet to come. By then, though, we might find a completely different, better way of healing. For example, science is learning more and more about how much microbiome is involved in health and disease. Maybe one day, instead of treating the body, it will be the microbiome that gets treated.
For now, sooner or later your dog is likely to need drugs.
There was a time when I didn't think twice about it. A veterinarian prescribed medication, I gave it. I figured that if there was something else I should know, they would tell me. But seriously, how often does your veterinarian educate about potential side effects of the drugs they prescribed?
For a long time, we didn't have many problems with meds, other than upset stomach or diarrhea.
When Jasmine was prescribed NSAIDs for her arthritis, I did actually think to ask what side effects we should be watching for. "The usual," I was told. "Vomiting, diarrhea,"
Jasmine was on it for a couple of days when she stopped eating. This, however, wasn't all that unusual for her. She would get like that every now and then. But then she stopped drinking as well. Now I was worried. That has never happened before. Can you guess this happened over the weekend? I had nobody to talk to about what was happening.
Fortunately, since this problem was new, I figured that it might be caused by something newly introduced - Jasmine's meds. I went online to learn about side effects and I almost got a heart attack at what I was finding.
I have immediately stopped giving it, trying to decide whether we needed to take Jasmine to an emergency clinic or not.
Here is what the product sheet had to say about potential side effects:
Previcox, like other NSAIDs, may cause some side effects. Serious side effects associated with NSAID therapy in dogs can occur with or without warning, and, in rare situations, result in death.
The most common side effects associated with Previcox therapy involve the digestive tract (vomiting and decreased food consumption). Liver and kidney problems have also been reported with NSAIDs. Look for the following side effects that may indicate your dog is having a problem with Previcox:
- Decrease or increase in appetite.
- Change in bowel movements (such as diarrhea, or black, tarry or bloody stools).
- Change in behavior (such as decreased on increased activity level, incoordination, seizure, or aggression).
- Yellowing of gums, skin, or whites of the eyes (jaundice).
- Change in drinking habits (frequency or amount consumed).
- Change in urination habits (frequency, color, or smell.)
- Change in skin (redness, scabs, or scratching).
- Unexpected weight loss.
It is important to stop the medication and contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog has a medical problem or side effects while taking Previcox tablets.
Needless to say, I was freaking out.
Spoiler, Jasmine made it through the ordeal without any serious lasting damage. But this was an eye-opener for me.
Do you have a story to share?
Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!
What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?
Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.