Saturday, November 21, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Online Pharmacies, Pet Parents and Veterinarians Relationship, and more ...

Big Box and Online Pharmacies, and How to Be Sure Your Pet’s Med’s Are Safe
Dr. Dr. Jessica Vogelsang/petMD

I am paranoid about everything that could hurt my dogs. Medication errors can certainly be one of them. When the orthopedic specialist Cookie was seeing last Sunday was going to write a prescription for a new drug to a pharmacy, my protective radar came on. "How will we determine whether the prescription was filled properly?" I asked. It was a first time ever using this drug for any of my dogs. I didn't know what it's supposed to look like, I didn't know what to expect in terms of effects ... "I could get you some from here, then," she replied.

Yes, that's what I wanted. Getting the drug directly from the hospital. At least the first time.

That day, over dinner I was catching up with my veterinary Twitter feed and just that day there was a story of a major pharmacy screw-up where they dispensed an NSAID instead of an appetite stimulant ... to a cat with kidney failure! It was a small yellow pill. It was supposed to be oval-shaped. They gave a small yellow pill but it was round. The drug couldn't have been more opposite of what the cat was supposed to be getting. One of the worst mistakes that could happen.

I love being able to grab a prescription from a pharmacy instead of making the trip to the vet. When it's a medication I'm familiar with. I can then check whether it looks the way it should. And I'd know whether it's doing what it should. One time we got Metronidazole from a pharmacy which looked different than what we've been usually getting. I was immediately on the phone with our vet to have it cleared up before I'd give it. It was fine but I was able to make sure.

Using online pharmacies can get even trickier. Ordering meds online, are you getting the right medication? The right dose? Was it stored properly?

Personally I don't like taking chances. I like to get our meds either from a vet or, if I'm already familiar with the medication, from a local pharmacy in some cases.

Is it OK to get your dog's medication from places other than your vet? Is it safe? It might be. Would you know?

Read Dr. V's thoughtful article on the subject.

Why Human and Veterinary Pharmacies Are NOT Created Equal
Dr. Patty Khuly/Dolittler Blog

And here is the article I mentioned above. I found it the night after I decided that I'd rather get Cookie's prescription directly from the clinic rather than getting a script to a local pharmacy. Because mistakes happen. And how would I tell with a new drug I've never even seen before?

If you're a fan of House MD, you might remember an episode with a similar story. The pharmacist dispensed gout medication instead of cough medication. It almost killed the guy.

There are enough potential side effects with drugs to worry about as it is. Why throw another variable into the mix?

What Is the Prognosis for Dogs With Severe Internal Bleeding?
Dr. Eric Barchas/dogster

The logical assumption would be that the prognosis depends on whether or not the bleeding can be stopped. Makes sense, no?

But it also depends on what caused the bleeding in the first place. If the bleeding was caused by a splenic tumor there is an important additional criteria to the prognosis. Was the tumor benign or cancerous?

Dr. Barchas talks in detail about what the possible causes and prognoses of bleeding splenic tumor are.

Pet Parents and Veterinarians: Time to Re-evaluate the Relationship
Dr. Ken Tudor/petMD

I know my own relationship with veterinarians has changed dramatically over time. And not just because of our bad experiences but also because of my new understanding of how to best advocate for my dogs. I have taken on an active role in my dogs' care and health management. And as hard as I work on resolving any medical issue that crop up, I also learned about the importance of wellness and prevention. After all, isn't it better to try to prevent illness in the first place?

Not everything can be prevented but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Starting from adequate exercise, quality nutrition and, yes, regular wellness exams. Do not skimp on wellness exams.

Do you only take your dog to the vet when there is a problem?

Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s Disease): A Great Pretender
Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

If there is the ultimate chameleon of a disease, Addison's disease must be it. Which, unfortunately, often makes it hard to get diagnosed. Just recently a friend was battling with her dog being sick and getting sicker and not being able to get any answers. It took quite a long time until her dog was finally diagnosed with Addison's disease. Many of the symptoms associated with Addison's disease can be symptoms of just about anything else under the sun.

Symptoms can occur suddenly and can be life-threatening. Addison's disease is the result of abnormally low production of hormones responsible for regulating water balance, electrolytes and sugar in the body. Proper levels of these things are crucial for the body to be able to function.

Want to learn more to understand Addison's disease? Read Dr. Byers' article.

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