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Frank Talk about Prescription Medications 
10/15/05 JR Rogers

For those who read this column, it is clear that I have reservations about the use of prescription arthritis medications for pets. The warnings and cautionary notes that the government has issued for these medications are playing out. I would like to relate a story I recently heard. 

What the Vet Did Not Tell Me 
Recently, a woman took her aging dog to the veterinarian. It was a large breed and, of course, prone to developing arthritis. The doctor prescribed a prescription medication to ease her pet's pain. 

The instructions she got from the vet were to give the dog the medication right after meals. Unfortunately, this pet developed a lot of very serious symptoms. The owner described them as "heavy breathing, a heart rate that was decreasing, and signs of extreme discomfort." 

This is not an old story. It happens when veterinarians do not advise their clients about side effects from prescription arthritis medications. This is not to fault the vet. This happens sometimes. However, the woman then tried to use aspirin to ease her pet's pain. 

If You Must Know the Truth 
The use of aspirin and similar products also has its problems. Of course, you want your pet to be comfortable. But the use of aspirin and related products can also have serious side effects. If you insist on using aspirin, it should be "buffered." Also, it should be used very sparingly-if at all. The dosage normally recommended is about 100 milligrams for every 10 pounds of body weight. 

I would still caution that the long-term use of aspirin or similar products can have long-term consequences; namely, that the use of Ibuprofen or aspirin (and, similar drugs) can increase cartilage degeneration in arthritic pets. Of course, short-term pain relief is not worth the risk in my opinion. 

Liquid Glucosamine 
For both safety reasons and to get pain relief for your pet, I am a strong advocate of using liquid glucosamine. It has been clinically proven to rehabilitate damaged cartilage and it handles pain relief. Normally, it acts very quickly but that depends on the severity of the problem. 

I realize that veterinarians are slowly coming around to the use of glucosamine and hopefully, more will do so. I just do not think that any of us likes to see our pets suffer needlessly. 

I would close by saying that this is not to condemn the veterinarians. They do their best to address the problem as they see. On the other hand, you are entitled to know what the risks are when prescription arthritis drugs are used.