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Animal Drug Investigation Reveals Pet Medication Often Doesn't Work 279

KentuckyFC writes: "Americans spent an estimated $14.2 billion on veterinary care for their pets in 2013 — and that doesn't even include proprietary health diets and food supplements. Put another way, pet owners pay about $850 annually in veterinary expenses per dog, and about $575 per cat. Factor in the emotional energy we invest in keeping our companion animals healthy, and you'd hope for high confidence in the end results. But when one journalist investigated the science behind the meds being used to treat his aging dog's osteoarthritis, he was in for a nasty surprise. Glucosamine and chondroitin food supplements? Next to useless. Tramadol to kill pain? It's probably just getting dogs high. The one treatment that's been proven to help, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called carprofen, is often left on the shelf because of fears — likely overblown — that it might damage dogs' kidneys. In part, you can blame this sorry state of affairs on a lack of financial incentives for drug companies to run clinical trials on animals. But often, vets aren't paying attention to the studies that have been done. If we want our dogs and cats to receive the best possible medical care, we need to ask our vets some tougher questions about why they think the drugs will work."
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Animal Drug Investigation Reveals Pet Medication Often Doesn't Work

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:23PM (#46123511)

    The primary reason why opioids work as painkillers is specifically because they get you high. They dont really kill pain so much as they make you not care that you're in pain. So tramadol getting the dogs high means its working. Except the biggest problem with tramadol is that it works as an SSRI/SNRI first, and then its primary metabolite, O-desmethyl-tramadol, is what works as a pain killer (affecting the kappa and mu receptors). Tramadol is more of an antidepressant than a painkiller, which makes its addiction significantly worse (ask anyone who has withdrawn from antidepressants).

  • by FuegoFuerte ( 247200 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:27PM (#46123565)

    The best thing I can suggest is to go to your local farm supply store instead of the vet, for anything but the most serious symptoms. They typically have the medications readily available for a reasonable price, and will often have people knowledgeable enough to point you in the right direction.

    Case in point: My cat had a nasty eye infection, and I decided I didn't want to spend the time, effort or money to pack up the cat and go to the vet. So I went to the local farm supply store and said "hey, my cat has goopy eyes that aren't clearing up, and in fact seem to be getting worse. Do you have anything for that?"

    They sold me a small tube of ophthalmic antibiotic ointment intended for cats/dogs, gave me brief instructions on how much to use and how to apply it without putting the cat's eye out, and about $10 later I was on my way home. It cleared up the cat's eyes in a couple days, and I had plenty left over and have used it on a couple occasions since then. In total, I probably saved at least $500 in vet bills, since I've used it to treat 2 cats on 2-3 occasions each over the past several years.

    The same type of store will often have good wormers, earmite meds, etc., so as long as the animal has classic symptoms that are easily diagnosed (and again, if in doubt just describe the symptoms to someone working at the store), they ought to be able to help you.

    Most of the small animal problems that only a vet can fix, can instead be fixed for about $0.06 at home. Large animals like horses, cows, etc. are different, and may warrant a call to an actual vet. Just about the only thing that's probably worth a visit to a vet for a cat/dog is to have them "fixed" (which really ought to be called "broken" in my opinion - not because it shouldn't be done, simply because it's removing functionality).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @05:50PM (#46123827)

    There are a lot of bad products alongside the good ones at the local stores. At many farm supply stores, they have none of the good products. The ratio of good products to bad products is not in your pet's favor if you haven't asked a vet which ones are actually safe. (A phone call to the vet to confirm doesn't cost anything, by the way.) For example, commercial off-the-shelf flea & tick medicines and collars that cause anything from minor skin infection to major problems like necrosis and skin sloughing off under the collar are very commonly sold for a few years and then disappear/get recalled under mysterious circumstances. You're gambling on whether you're going to cause huge damage to your pet if you just do what you feel like doing with medications!! Don't just go there and assume that the stock boy is going to know more than a vet!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:22PM (#46124129)

    There is no routine screening for peek pancreatic cancer. No check up would have picked it up.

    I'm a palliative care MD and see this cancer far too often. Almost always stage 4. Easy to blame someone for 'missing' this (either MD or patient themselves) but it's just crappy luck.

    That being said, unexpected weight loss, sweats, pain = see a doctor!

  • by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @06:47PM (#46124339) Journal

    Wild animals often live in dirty environments and eat questionable foods, and yet they are usually just fine.

    No they aren't. They die in large numbers. Take housecats, for example -- indoor average lifespan is >12 years, outdoor average lifespan is 5 years. Stray dogs live 1-2 years on the street, but average 11 years in a home.

  • Re:Fish antibiotics (Score:4, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:05PM (#46125883) Homepage

    How do you verify whether they are still effective? Shelf-life is a serious concern, and antibiotics are stored under specific conditions to maximize their effective lives. Dosing with an expired drug can have all sorts of unpleasant effects because the resulting chemicals may be worse than just nonfunctional.

    In general it’s true that animal antibiotics are largely the same as those intended for human delivery, and many a veterinarian uses their office supplies on themselves. But even animal antibiotics are stored under specific conditions and are disposed of when they expire. That’s not just for commercial gain, it’s to ensure that the drugs do what they’re supposed to and not something unpredictable instead.

    Bullshit. Expiration dates are randomly created in order to push products through. There is ** very little ** science about long term storage - most of it from the military and most of it saying that the shelf life is quite a bit longer than advertised.

    And there is one class of antibiotic that is known to breakdown into something (relatively) toxic - that's the tetracyclines. Don't stockpile those. The rest of the drugs just get a little less potent. The bigger issue for most people in Scenario Zombie is 1) When to partake of your precious antibiotic store 2) which antibiotic 3) how much and how long. The Merk Manual is a good start, but best to friend your neighborhood doctor (or ICU nurse).

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal