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Sunday, January 30, 2011

February 2011 Newsletter

This months newsletter was written by Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori.
You're worried your dog is sick, so you take him to see the vet. After a thorough checkup, the doctor tells you she want to put your neutered male dog on a drug you've heard a lot about: Viagra.
No, it's not your vet's idea of a joke. It's actually perfectly legitimate to prescribe Viagra for a dog, even if he's neutered--but not for the reasons you might think.
Viagra, or sildenafil citrate, is best known for fixing what's referred to as "erectile dysfunction" in human males, but because it works by improving blood flow, it can also help treat pulmonary hypertension, a disorder that causes high blood pressure in the lungs. If you dog has a pulmonary problem, Viagra may be the key to his health.
And it's not the only human medication vets prescribe. Another surprising remedy is Botox, used to treat some eye problems in dogs. Most pet owners don't realize this, but aside from flea- and tick-control products, almost all of the medications their pets receive are crossovers from human medicine,
"I'd say 80 to 90% of the drugs used in veterinary medicine come from human medicine," says Dr. Duncan Ferguson, director of the Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology residency program at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. "When you get into more specialized treatments, such as those for cancer, that figure goes even higher."
This so-called off-label use of drugs is what allows veterinarians to treat species or medical conditions that may be considered small markets from a drug company's perspective.
Knowing how and why certain drugs are prescribed can help pet owners understand health-care options--including some that save money. A good veterinarian will discuss medications, tell you what side effects to look for, and encourage you to call with questions or concerns. Treatment can often be more complicated in animals than in humans.
"I tell our veterinary students that they need to know more about pharmacology than their physician counterparts," says Dr. Ferguson, whose areas of specialty include both small-animal internal medicine and veterinary clinical pharmacology. "In human medicine, all drugs are FDA-approved, meaning that they have undergone significant scrutiny for safe --but only in one species. Vets must often use fairly limited evidence to treat other species with differences in drug metabolism and action."
Part two of this article will be put into next months newsletter. Remember that we are not professional doctors and you should always consults your vet about what is best for your pet.
Johnny & Connie