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Dec 02 2013

Over-the-Counter Medications: The Slippery Slope

It is with a heavy heart that I feel that I need to write about the subject of over-the-counter medicines this week.  On Monday, I was presented with a case of a possible ear drum rupture.  Sounds simple enough, right?  The owner thought they had ruptured “Fifi’s ” ear drum when they noticed she was holding her head to the side after she was accidentally sprayed in the ear by a water hose.  Instead of taking her to the emergency clinic located in Paducah, KY to be examined, (the accident happened on Saturday), they decided to medicate her at home with aspirin.  The maximum daily dose of aspirin for this dog was approximately 500mg and while the history of the incident was being told, the owners relayed that they had been giving 800mg 5 or 6 times a day, for 2 days.  This is almost 10 time the recommended dose.  Furthermore, the owners applied over-the-counter ear mite medication to the affected ear, exposing the middle and inner ear to insecticides.  We immediately starting treating for aspirin toxicosis and initiated supportive care therapies, but by the next morning, FiFi was dead.  By treating at home without proper veterinary advice the owners effectively turned a simple ear drum rupture into an expensive dead dog.  A necropsy (autopsy for dogs) was not performed but she likely died from acute kidney damage, brain damage, liver damage, or a combination of these causes.  The owner’s cited cost as a reason they did not seek veterinary advice or guidance and you can see where that got them; which brings me to the point of my blog.  DO NOT SELF- DIAGNOSE AND TREAT AT HOME, PERIOD.  Aspirin, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), has been used in the past in veterinary patients and still has uses in some cases, but there are far safer drugs that have been extensively tested and approved for use dogs and cats.  Humans and dogs are both mammals and have some similar physiologic characteristics but canine metabolism of drugs varies wildly when compared to the same metabolic pathways in humans, therefor the drug dosage and side effects vary significantly.  I implore you, never medicate or diagnose problems at home, Dr. Google has not gone to veterinary school and has no intuition, which is a huge part of assessing each individual case and Dr. Google does not know how to prescribe a tailored treatment plan for your pet.  Even if your pet has been prescribed an OTC medication before, it is a good idea to call your vet anytime you decide to give another round of the same medication for a new problem, because it could actually make it worse!

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and generic) is toxic at any dose to dogs. Cats and Acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic) DO NOT mix and should be used very cautiously in dogs. So I implore you do not medicate your pet without first consulting with your veterinarian. Please do not hesitate to call River’s Edge Veterinary Hospital if you have any problems or questions with your pet. If you have an emergency outside of normal business hours, you can still call 618-524-7500 or 270-448-7500 and receive additional information of which doctor is available to see your pet or answer your questions.

riversedge | Animal Health Information

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