By Dr Asia O’Neill
In the upcoming pieces, we will be addressing myths of at-home/over-the-counter treatments and why they may not be fitting for certain cases.
While there are minor conditions that can be managed at home, consulting a veterinary expert to properly diagnose and appropriately treat serious ailments should not be questioned. The difficulty in condoning at home or over-the-counter treatment selection without veterinary consultation is for most cases the lack of ability to detect a serious ailment. Prolonging the veterinary intervention is more than likely going to result in progression of the illness, resulting in severely debilitated or untreatable states. Even if the animal appears to have recovered on their own, future relapses can be devastating. There are certain clinical signs that should never be ignored or suppressed, as it is necessary to unearth the cause of the signs and treat the causative agent itself, to then in turn alleviate the signs seen.
Medications and treatments are precisely calculated on a case-by-case basis. This is because each pet’s weight will determine the dosage of medication that is required to produce a therapeutic effect. Underdosing will result in the insufficient clearing of the disease agent, leading to relapses later on in life, resistance to the treatment due to the previous exposure can also occur. On the other hand, overdosing can lead to lethal toxic effects, as too much of the drug becomes distributed throughout the body, and overcomes the natural balance of processing and elimination of the drug.
Most, if not all, drugs are likely to produce side effects. As they become systemic, they are circulated through all of the body systems and may act at sites other than the intended target site of the treatment. Knowledge of the possible side effects is another determinant that will dictate whether a drug is suitable for a specific patient, in order to avoid additional complications. Certain underlying existing conditions may result in the contraindication of various drugs. When creating a treatment plan, the desired therapeutic response is always being weighed against the possible risks with administration.
Certain classes of drugs are toxic to various species. Therefore, there may be medications that are appropriate for use in humans but will be harmful if administered to an animal that is sensitive to that drug. The processing and elimination of drugs by the body are dependent on the presence of specific compounds and structures that some species may lack. As a result, their bodies are not able to excrete the drug, allowing it to remain in circulation or collecting at sites and causing destructive effects. Not only can certain drugs be toxic to certain species, but certain breeds can also be sensitive to a drug that is deemed appropriate to their species. The precipitation of adverse reactions in certain individual cases is also a possibility when administering medication and is unpredictable with a lack of history on the patient.
Determining a medical treatment is a more complex thought process than it may appear to be. There are many considerations that are being assessed and weighed in the moment, when it comes to selecting the appropriate treatment regime. While there are conditions that can be self-limiting, severe, not-so-simple disease processes must be aptly identified so that treatment options can be ruled in/out. Also keep in mind that attempting over-the-phone consultations may not be adequate in pinpointing and resolving more serious issues, as veterinary professionals cannot fully perform the necessary examinations to pick up on small cues, too subtle for pet owners to notice. Veterinarians have a trained
eye and are programmed to match clinical signs to possible causative diseases and their specific treatments.
Next in this series, we will be measuring the suitability of common at-home and over-the-counter practices.