When prescribing medications, I always try to talk about possible side effects, since this helps pet owners watch out for possible issues. Most side effects are minor, such as an upset stomach, while others can be screened for with bloodwork.
Sometimes, however, just thinking about side effects is enough to make a pet owner hesitate. Even if the odds are 1 in 10,000 that their dog might have an issue, this can seem too dangerous. Why take the risk at all?
The reason that we run the low risk of side effects is because medications can have major benefits for our four-legged friends.
Bad Allergies? Drugs Are Worth It
For example, in the springtime, we have a lot of very, very itchy dogs coming into the clinic with seasonal allergies. These poor pooches are sometimes so itchy that they (or their owners) can hardly sleep. This is a miserable existence. Also, if left untreated, allergies can lead to skin infections that require even more medications to treat. Luckily, modern allergy medications can typically control the immune system without side effects.
Our most commonly used allergy medication, Apoquel, is effective for over 90% of patients, and can bring their itch level down to almost zero. Furthermore, using this medication prevents bigger problems with skin infections, so the benefit is doubled. Still, the medication isn’t without possible side effects. In rare cases, Apoquel can over-suppress the immune system. Luckily, this is extremely rare and we can catch the problem with a simple blood test. The benefits of this medication outweigh the possible risks by a huge margin.
Apoquel, a highly effective allergy medication.
Drugs Improve Quality of Life and Save Lives
Beyond allergies, we use medications in pets for everything from pain to heart failure. These drugs can mean the difference between your dog laying in bed all day or greeting you when you come home from work. In some cases, drugs may extend your dog’s life for a year or more.
Remember, veterinarians want the same thing as you: to keep your furry friend happy and healthy. Making decisions about your pet’s treatment is a team decision. A good vet will consider the pros and cons of a medication along with your personal wishes and budget.
With increasing desire to lead a “natural” life, it can feel like drugs are working in the opposite direction, but this isn’t a “one or the other” kind of decision. If needed, drugs can literally mean the difference between life or death. Instead of focusing on possible side effects, consider all the benefits that modern medicine can bring.
If you have questions about a medication for your pet, then please call any of our four locations. We are proud to serve the furriest residents of Henderson and Boulder City, Nevada with the safest possible medicine.