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Pharmacy and dispensing medication

When the medication is prescribed
  • Let your veterinarian know if your pet has had adverse reactions to any medications.
  • Ask questions so you understand why this medication is being recommended for your pet and what alternatives there are, if any, to this medication.
    •  When and how should this drug be used?
    • What is the purpose of this medication?
    •  What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Ask your veterinarian what you should look for as signs of problems, adverse reactions to the medication, or a worsening of your pet’s condition.
    • If you observe any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. Do not discontinue your pet’s medication unless you are instructed to do so by a veterinarian.
  • If you get your pet’s prescription filled at a pharmacy, do not let the pharmacy change the prescription in any way including changing the dose or the drug that was prescribed, without first consulting the veterinarian who prescribed it. Drug dosages in humans can be vastly different from what is appropriate for a dog or cat. Likewise, there can be large differences between dog and cat prescription needs.
When giving the drug
  • Keep medication bottles out of reach of your pets and children.
  • Do not give your pet any medications, including over the counter (OTC) products, without consulting your veterinarian.
    • Some drugs will interact with other drugs, including OTC medications and supplements, so your veterinarian needs to know EVERYTHING you are giving your pet.
  • Always follow the label directions. If you have any questions about the medication, ask your veterinarian.
    • Keep the medicines in the containers in which you received them and store them at the temperature indicated by your veterinarian. Do not transfer the contents to another bottle or vial.
    • Because pets’ medication can be similar or the same as your medications, store them separately to eliminate the error of taking your pet’s medication or giving your pet your medication.
    • If your pet is on more than one medication, be incredibly careful to give each medication as prescribed and according to label directions. The dose for the same pet can be quite different among drugs, and you don’t want to give your pet too much or too little of its medication because you mixed up the labels.
    • Never use one pet’s medication for another pet unless you are instructed to do so by your veterinarian. Never use your dog’s medication in your cat, because drugs that may be safe in dogs may not be safe in cats.
  • Contact your veterinarian if you miss a dose or if you give too much (overdose) of the drug. If an overdose occurs during a time when your veterinarian’s office is  closed, contact an emergency service
  • Always finish your pet’s medication unless you are instructed otherwise by your veterinarian.
    • Some medications, such as many steroids, should be tapered in dose and not stopped “cold turkey.” Follow the label and your veterinarian’s directions.
When you no longer need the medication
  • Properly Dispose of expired and unused drugs.
  • Even if you think your pet has become ill with the same problem you’ve previously treated with a medication, don’t decide on your own to give your pet the same medicine or leftover medicine because it can be harmful and can delay an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s current problem. Talk to your veterinarian first.