In the Oregon survey, veterinarians also reported that insulin brands were changed, dosages for anti-seizure medications were altered, and antibiotics substituted for chemotherapy drugs. Other news reports have shown that pet owners were told to give human pain relievers, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, to their pets. This seemingly harmless advice can lead to serious liver damage in dogs or even death in cats.
Executive director of the OVMA, Glenn Kolb said, “Together, veterinarians and pharmacists work hand in hand to meet the needs of the client and the best interests of the patient. The bad news is the rare occurrence when a pharmacy steps out of its scope of practice by making determinations and adjustments.”
Even the Food and Drug Administration has taken notice. In a 2012 Consumer Update, the FDA mentions how veterinarians and pharmacists are taught different systems of medication dosing abbreviations, leading to confusion. In addition, transcription errors and product selection mistakes can lead to the wrong drug or the incorrect amount being given to your pet.
Both professions and the FDA are taking these reports very seriously. Carmen Catizone of the National Association Boards of Pharmacy says that pet owners’ “primary concern should always be whether or not the pharmacist is knowledgeable in the area of veterinary medications” and cautions that price should be a secondary consideration when looking for pet or human drugs.
In the FDA alert, consumers are urged to ask questions of both the pharmacist and the veterinarian if a pet’s prescription is filled at an online or retail pharmacy. Kolb takes it one step further and flatly states that “veterinarians need to raise awareness among pet owners by telling them, ‘If a pharmacist suggests changing to a different drug or different dosage, please contact me right away.’”
Be familiar with your pet’s regular medications and take time to review any written prescription. If what you receive doesn’t match your expectations, do not give the drug and contact your veterinarian.