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  1. #1
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    Default When your vet recommends OTC meds...

    After what happened to Opaleyz' Lili, a couple of members have asked me questions about over-the-counter medications, concerned that they too might accidentally pick the wrong product for their pets. So I thought I would make a few comments on how to do this as safely as possible (I had to give Cassie Pepcid last week, and even I was amazed by how easy it would be to make a mistake).

    I am sorry I can't give a list of "over-the-counter meds that are safe to give pets." Although there are several that are often recommended (e.g., aspirin, Benadryl, Pepcid), it depends on your animal's age, health, other medications, size, and the problem being treated. Please don't give any medication unless you have discussed it with your vet first.

    So here is a quick summary:

    Every medication has a chemical name (don't worry about this), and a generic name. Many medications will also have a brand name (this is the name the company marketing it will give it).

    Examples:
    diphenhydramine (generic) = Benadryl (brand)
    acetaminophen (generic) = Tylenol (brand)
    docusate (generic) = Colace (brand), DOK (another brand), etc

    There is nothing wrong with using a generic drug. They are cheaper because you are not paying for the marketing, packaging, advertisements. The FDA requires generics to be the same chemical entity and the same amount of active drug, with only minor variances in things like how fast the product dissolves, how long it lasts, etc. In some cases, the generic and brand have been produced by the same factory, maybe even the same batch - just put in bottles with different labels. There are a few presciption drugs where not every generic can be made exactly the same as the brand (e.g., warfarin, thyroid). In those cases your pharmacist should dispense the same brand (or same manufacturer's generic) each time. But choosing a generic OTC for your pet instead of a brand should not concern you.

    What gets complicated is that a brand name can be associated with more than one product. Some reasons for this are:
    (1) A company has developed combination products (containing more than one drug).
    Tylenol PM = acetaminophen + diphenhydramine
    Tylenol Allergy Multi-Symptom = acetaminophen + chlorpheniramine + phenylephrine

    (2) A drug has different strengths and formulations.
    Tylenol = acetaminophen 325mg
    Extra-Strength Tylenol = acetaminophen 500mg
    Arthritis Tylenol = acetaminophen 650mg
    Infant's Tylenol (liquid) = 160mg per 1.6mL
    There used to be a Children's Tylenol liquid and the infant's formula was actually STRONGER than the children's! (it was more concentrated because then you only needed to give the baby a tiny amount). This was very dangerous because people thought they were the same, so they no longer make both of these.
    Many medications come in a same-strength tablet, capsule, gelcap, etc.

    (3) A company has changed the active drug in their product, but left the same name on it.
    Kaopectate = bismuth subsalicylate (it used to be kaolin-pectin but this is no longer used. You see that the company wanted to keep the name. However, salicylates are aspirin derivatives and could be dangerous for someone with an aspirin allergy or bleeding disorder if they didn't realize the name was changed)
    Peri-Colace = docusate + senna (it used to be docusate + casanthranol but this was removed from the market)
    Sudafed = pseudoephedrine... BUT now that this drug must be sold behind the pharmacy counter in many states, the company also has Sudafed PE (= phenylephrine)

    So how do you know what product to pick for your pet when the vet says (for example) "Give 1/4 tablet of Pepcid once a day for 5 days"? Here is my advice:

    (1) Ask your vet the generic name of the medication (e.g. famotidine)
    (2) Ask the exact strength you need to give (e.g. 2.5mg)
    (3) Write it down and read it back to the vet to make sure you heard correctly
    (4) Find the product at your drugstore and look at the "Active Ingredient(s)" on the label. If it doesn't match up, put it back. If there are other active ingredients, put it back (e.g. "Pepcid Complete" has the active ingredients famotidine 10mg + calcium carbonate + magnesium hydroxide)
    (5) Pick the simplest product that meets your needs. If it's a 10mg dose and you only have to give 2.5mg, pick a tablet that you can cut (not a gelcap or something "rapid release"). If your pet can't/won't swallow pills, see if there is a liquid (avoid artificial sweeteners).
    (6) If in doubt, ask your pharmacist for help. That is what they are there for .

    I hope that helps. If you have specific questions, send me a PM and I will help if I can.
    Last edited by oceangirls; 09-08-2007 at 12:27 PM.
    Kim & the Girls

    With me always, Cassie & Angel

  2. #2
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    Default

    This is great, Kim!! Maybe this should be a sticky...???
    Paula, Heidi,& Buster
    & my s Maxe, Alex, Wendal, Jules & James, Patti and Ferkel

    "The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can."

  3. #3
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    Default

    Thanks, Kim! Great info.

    Can you sticky this?

    LOL- Paula and I were thinking the same thing :D
    Hoomom to Cricket ~ Red Smooth 'tweenie'


  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by quavec
    Thanks, Kim! Great info.

    Can you sticky this?

    LOL- Paula and I were thinking the same thing :D
    Great minds and all that.. (or is it fools??? )
    Paula, Heidi,& Buster
    & my s Maxe, Alex, Wendal, Jules & James, Patti and Ferkel

    "The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can."

  5. #5
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    I will sticky it (hope that is okay, Lisa & Rafi - please unstick if desired)
    Kim & the Girls

    With me always, Cassie & Angel

  6. #6
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    Yes, it needs to be a sticky and may I pass it to Dodgers and DRNA (giving you credit)?
    Yolanda and the FurCrew.

    " .... It takes a village ....."

  7. #7
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    Sure you can, Yolanda Not really necessary to give me credit, but thank you.
    Kim & the Girls

    With me always, Cassie & Angel

  8. #8
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    You ROCK Kim :banana: :banana: :banana:

  9. #9
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    Thank You So Much for this!

    I plan on informing my vet that they need to be more informative with their instructions about OTC's, so hopefully no one else at that office will have the same issue I did. I remember looking at the active ingredients, but it didn't matter because I didn't know that pseudophedrine was bad for animals. I learned that lesson the hard way.
    Opaleyz, mom to Lili & Jasper - Sis to Gabby Auntie to Chloe & Gretta & Lexie

  10. #10
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    Kim, this is fabulous information. so much, as always, we value your tremendous knowledge.

    ..POGO....PIXEL.....PíNUT....PEPSI

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