Dog Medications - Common Dog Medications And What They're Used For

What are commonly used medications for my dog, and when would the veterinarian recommend them?

So most commonly used medications for our canine patients are medicines like dewormers, which help prevent and treat parasite infections. There are also antibiotics, obviously, to treat infections, whether it be in the skin or internally, or perhaps we have a urinary tract infection or something like that we're trying to treat. There are also some fungal diseases that we will use antifungals for. That can involve the skin or maybe a wound, or some respiratory issues.

And we have dogs that perhaps need some type of behavior modification program. So there are things we can give to help with anxiety. Those are anti-anxiety medications. There are some dogs that, for whatever reason, maybe they've had surgery or something they need to be still for in terms of recuperating, that perhaps they need an oral sedative to take to keep them calm as well.

We give a lot of anti-inflammatories. They're for pain and discomfort, whether from injury or from developing arthritis over time or maybe it's pain related to surgery. Steroids are used in terms of dealing with certain types of inflammation. So they're pretty commonly used daily for different kinds of scenarios. And over the years, we've been able to use many more chemotherapy drugs to help treat our cancer patients.

Dr. Mitch McKee
Cupola Animal Hospitals - Berry Farms Animal Hospital

What are some of the side effects and adverse reactions my dog could experience from these medications?

The most common side effects to a lot of the medicines we use are going to be GI-related. Typically, the dog will have an upset stomach, which may manifest as either vomiting or diarrhea on occasion. You may not see anything else other than them not wanting to eat, or maybe they're a little lethargic and laying around a little more. So if you start a medication, especially within the first 24 to 48 hours, and you see some of these types of symptoms, you want to check with your vet to determine if this is a potential side effect or not.

What do I need to know about drug interactions?

Drug interactions can be a bit of a problem depending upon what long-term medicines your dog is taking, but that will be individual to each patient. Certain drugs you don't ever want to combine because they could cause some pretty serious side effects. But at the same time, some drugs can be used together to provide a better outcome for us. But ideally, what we'd like to do is, if we're putting your dog on multiple medications, go over with you exactly what they do and, if we expect any problems at all, to let you know that too.

Can my dog be on medication long-term?

There are a lot of dogs that take medication long-term. It's not uncommon. That's often going to be for pain control or discomfort. The most common ones would be arthritis or bone and joint disease. Some endocrine-related diseases, such as low thyroid problems or things like Cushing's disease or Addison's disease, require long-term medication. These diseases need long-term medications over a pet's lifetime to control their symptoms and ensure they can have as normal a life as possible.

Why is it important not to give my dog medications without speaking to my vet first?

Mainly it goes back to the interaction question since we know that some drugs are not well tolerated in combination with others. If you ever have any questions, it's always best to not give something and call just to be on the safe side.

What tricks can I use to give my dog medications?

Dogs can be easy to medicate, or they can be challenging to medicate. If you have a dog that likes treats or is very food-motivated, then putting in it something like peanut butter or a tiny piece of bread, or some people will use little bits of cheese or something like that. And fortunately, some of our medications these days are chewable. They come in some type of chewable format, and often our dogs find that's a treat, and they'll take that pretty readily. Some medications are in liquid form, and that will require using a syringe to give them. And that's probably going to be used more for those pets who are having a hard time taking their oral medicine.

Where should I get my dog's medications refilled?

You should always check with your vet's office to get your dog's medications refilled. One, your vet wants to be on top of what's going on with your pet. Also, if there are any adverse effects, it will be hard for an outside pharmacist to deal with them. So if you're getting your medications directly from your vet, they know what you're getting, the source of that particular medication, and what they would expect if there were ever a problem.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 224-7776, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.