7 Common Side Effects of Pet MedicationsDr. Jennifer Coates
Every time you introduce something into the system that naturally doesn't belong there, there is a consequence. Whether it's an antigen, toxin or a drug, it's something the body has to deal with. Science is working on improving medications to limit these effects but as Jasmine's vet said, something can either be effective or have no side effects. I hope that in the future the medications will become targetted enough not to influence things that you don't want influenced but that day hasn't come yet and it might never come.
How much an infection, toxin or medication is going to mess with the system depends on the individual system and its ability to deal with it. That's why some dogs can encounter an infection and not get sick, and some dogs can take long-term medications and not suffer any serious side effects.
I do believe, however, that it is important to realize the fact that every time you introduce a drug into it that you might be looking at side effects. Sometimes these can be mild and sometimes quite violent. Before medicating my dogs, I always ask what to expect and I also recommend reading the product sheet. Your vet is likely to list the common side effects if you ask, but also just as likely not to cite the rare serious ones. This makes sense. But rare doesn't mean it can't ever happen.
"Deciding to give a pet medication always involves determining if the benefits outweigh the risks." ~Dr. Jennifer Coates
What are the most common side effects? With orally administered medications you're looking at potential vomiting, diarrhea, other GI issues, With injectable medications site reactions. With any medications, there is the potential of allergic reaction, weakness, lethargy, and even liver or kidney damage.
Always discuss the pros and cons with your veterinarian.
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One of the dilemmas in veterinary medicine is the distinction between exposure to a pathogen and an actual disease. For example, if you run your annual Lyme disease blood test and it comes back positive, what should be done? Should you treat the lab work or should you treat the dog? There is no true consensus on the matter at this time. In the particular case of Lyme disease, there is further testing that can be done to determine what is really going on. But what about the cases where a more accurate determination cannot be made?
With blood tests, what the lab is looking for are antibodies. Antibodies are a reflection of an immune response. What such test result is indicating is that there is or was a presence of a bacteria or a virus and that the immune system built an army to deal with it. It doesn't tell you whether the defense was successful or not, whether you should be helping the troops or not. It's important to note that such test will also be positive after successful vaccination. It indicates the presence of specialized troops. Nothing more, nothing else.
The line might get even more blurry when rather than antibodies, a test detects the actual pathogen, such as with Coccidia. Unlike with an antibody test, where the pathogen might have long been destroyed and dealt with, positive fecal results mean the little bastards are definitely there, no doubt about it. But what if your dog is not sick?
The answer is actually simple. Treat it. If you find out you have mice in your house, why would you wait until they clean out your pantry? You know they're there, you know they're going to do this, and you know they're going to multiply and spread.
With Coccidia, your dog may or may not have a peace agreement with the invaders, but even if they do, every time your dog poops, the infection can spread to other dogs and puppies who can get very ill or even die.
While you may or may not want to treat positive blood test results, you do want to treat positive fecal results.
Mast cell tumors are common. Way too common, if you ask me. And they can look like just about anything else. Mast cell tumors don't kill dogs, assumptions do. If caught and addressed early, surgery can be curative.
Read Dr. Byers' overview here.
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