What Medications Does He Take?

Have you ever had this conversation as you’re trying to get a history from a client?

“What medications does Rocky take?”

“Oh he’s just on a vitamin.”

“Which vitamin is that?”

“Oh, you know. The one in the brown bottle.”

“Do you know the name of it?”

“It’s… Life Gold. Is that a good one?”

“I have no idea what that is.”

And now the client thinks I’m an idiot.

While this isn’t a daily occurrence, it happens more often when you’re working in an emergency setting and don’t have access to any of the pet’s medical records from it’s regular vet office.

Clients sometimes don’t feel like they need to mention everything a pet is taking. The answer to my question about medications might get them to hand me a bag of pill vials. Or they might swear that Rocky doesn’t take anything only to later tell me how he has Cushing’s disease. When I ask if he’s receiving treatment for that, they suddenly remember that he is on trilostane. Long-term medications don’t always seem to register for them.

When it comes to supplements, I have had clients get offended that I’m not familiar with the exact product they purchased out of thousands of pet supplements on the market. Or they think that I should know what it is from the color of the packaging. I’m sorry – if you tell me the name I can google it, but my focus is keeping up on the latest in emergency medicine and not memorizing the names and packaging of all the supplements out there.

Most of the time I don’t care about the supplements. But in a few cases it can help to elucidate other aspects of the history that the client might not be able to relay correctly. Here is another example:

“Well she takes some pills, doc.”

“Are they a prescription?”

“I don’t know. I order them online.”

“Do you know what they’re for?”

“I think she has a kidney problem.”

“Okay.”

At which point, the client remembers that the pills are in her pocket. She pulls out a package of Denamarin.

“So these pills are usually for the liver. Do you think that maybe Rocky has a liver problem and not a kidney problem?”

“Yeah, that was it!”

I still don’t believe everything a client tells me when they seem this uncertain about their pet’s medical history. But it can help to guide my recommendations for bloodwork or in picking which drugs to use for treatment.

One other thing that happens occasionally is that some people don’t seem to see human over-the-counter drugs as medications.

“Is Rocky taking any medications?”

“No, nothing.”

“And he hurt himself playing in the yard yesterday, right?”

“Yes, he seemed to be in a lot of pain so I gave him an aspirin.”

Umm, aspirin is a medication. And now at worst, I have to worry about whether the dose was enough to put him at risk of stomach ulcers or kidney damage. At best, I have to consider whether I can now prescribe a more appropriate canine NSAID for his pain or not.

So what should you do as a pet owner to help your vet evaluate your pet’s medication in an emergency? Here are some tips:

  • Make sure not to give any medications for people to your pet without asking a vet first.
  • Know what prescriptions your pet takes and what they are for. Bonus points if you know the mg strength or bring the bottles.
  • Know what over-the-counter pet products or supplements you give your pet. Bring the bottles or at least know the correct name. These don’t always have a mg strength on the packaging.
  • Bringing the medication is good! But don’t bring a bag of every medication that your pet has ever taken.
  • Be able to tell the vet when the most recent dose of medication was given.
  • If you aren’t the person who gives your pet the medication, have a way to contact the family member who does so that the vet can confirm any details about medications.

Is there anything else that you have found helpful in your practice when it comes to pet medications? Do you recommend specific supplements or keep certain ones in stock? Let me know in the comments!

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