Is There Such a Thing as Over Medicating?

Country music fans  are probably familiar with Daryle Singletary’s song, “Too Much Fun.” For those who prefer a different genre of tunes, the chorus goes something like this, “Too much fun, what’s that mean? / It’s like too much money, there’s no such thing / It’s like a girl too pretty with too much class / Being too lucky, a car too fast / No matter what they say, I’ve done / But I ain’t never had too much fun.” Now you’re probably wondering where is this leading to and what does it have to do with my pets?

The question is: can we ever give too much medication? Unlike the song where we can’t have too much fun, we can definitely over-treat, or over-medicate, our pets. While we never want our fur-family members to be sick or suffer, and medications and treatments are often necessary to get them healthy or even just to prevent sickness, treatment should always follow the medicine’s explicit label directions without adding in additional “what is left over from before.”

Every pet owner should want to protect their pets from fleas and ticks and there are numerous products available. PetArmor for Dogs or Cats is a great product for fleas and ticks, when used appropriately. All flea and tick topical preventatives need to be used correctly per label instructions (never apply a dog product to a cat, apply the correct weight break, etc.) and not in combination with other flea and tick products such as shampoos. The treatment should also be designed specifically for the diagnosed condition. The key word here is diagnosed. While sometimes treatments are based on symptoms alone, for some owners this can create problems when “Dr. Google” is involved. In the case of fleas, all itchy dogs don’t necessarily have flea allergy dermatitis. More times than you might imagine, patients (pets just like yours) are presented for itchy, scaly skin and the owner (with good intentions) has treated with multiple flea remedies and products, sometimes in toxic combinations, with no result. That is usually because it’s not a flea problem.

Another issue regarding over-treating is using leftover medications from either another pet, or even the same pet that is exhibiting “the same thing as before.” First of all, as veterinarians we seldom give out “extras” just in case. With these medications, just like with our own human prescriptions, it is expected that they have been used until gone. While this is not the case 100 percent of the time, more times than not it is the (intended) case.

In the case of antibiotics, for example, by using the partial prescription or not using it long enough may create a resistance to future antibiotic use, which can result in more problems for your pet and more cost to you.

As pet parents we all want our furry friends to be healthy, pain-free and happy for many years. We can never have too much fun when with our pets. After all, isn’t that why we welcomed them into our homes in the first place?

Always be cautious with self diagnosis, read labels on all products used on your pets and don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian why a medication is being used and the possible side effects.

Now crank up iTunes to your favorite song and go out and try to have too much fun — there is nothing wrong with that!

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