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Vet Tech Rounds: What You Should Know About Your Pet’s Medication

Vet Talks 6 min read
When your pet is diagnosed, it can be quite overwhelming. Vet Tech Johanna talks about what you should know about your pet's medications

What You Should Know About Your Pet’s Medication

When your pet is diagnosed with a condition, it can be quite overwhelming. Your veterinarian will try to explain everything to you, but it is a lot of information to take in at once. They will often prescribe some medications to help keep your pet comfortable or remedy the condition which your pet may have. There are many different types and classes of pharmaceutical medications and they all have their benefits and risks. Your veterinarian will weigh the benefits of your pet’s medication against the risks.

If you have any questions or concerns at all about the medication your veterinarian has prescribed for your pet, don’t be afraid to ask! Sometimes veterinary staff can take their knowledge of veterinary medicine for granted. I know that, as a vet tech, I am also guilty of this sometimes.  It’s easy to forget that not everyone is familiar with some of these commonly used medications. Your vet or vet tech will be more than happy to provide you with any information you would like, all you have to do is ask!

Here are some common medication classes used in veterinary medicine and some things you may want to speak with your veterinarian about in more detail.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)


NSAIDs are used to control inflammation and dscomfort. These are some of the most commonly used drugs in veterinary discomfort management. These medications are generally safe to use short term in healthy animals, whether after a surgery or injury. If your pet requires a longer course or ongoing treatment with this medication, your vet may recommend bloodwork be done prior in order to check your pet’s kidney and liver function. This is because NSAIDs are biotransformed in the liver and excreted by the kidneys.

NSAID use can cause mild changes in liver function, which may not be concerning in an otherwise healthy animal. However, if there is underlying liver or kidney disease, the use of NSAID medications should be limited or even avoided. If your pet is on long term NSAID medication, bloodwork should be monitored regularly to check liver and kidney function. NSAIDs should always be given with food, as they have a small possibility of causing gastric ulcers. Giving NSAIDs along with food greatly reduces this risk. NSAIDs should not be taken at the same time as corticosteroids, as this increases the chances of causing gastric ulcers.


Dog taking medication

Corticosteroids can cause side effects such as appetite increase and weight gain, increased drinking and urination.

There are many different types of steroids. In veterinary medicine ‘steroid’ usually refers to corticosteroids. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be caused by many things, such as trauma, allergic reactions, cancer, and other pathologies. Corticosteroids can work quite well to reduce inflammation; however, their long-term use should be avoided unless all other options are exhausted.

Corticosteroids can cause side effects such as appetite increase and weight gain, increased drinking and increased urination. Over use of corticosteroids in dogs can lead to iatrogenic Cushing’s disease (Cushing’s disease caused by medication) In cats corticosteroid use can induce diabetes mellitus.

Your veterinarian should weigh the risks versus the benefits of using corticosteroids for your pet. If your pet is suffering from a condition with a poor prognosis, such as cancer, often the benefits of keeping your pet feeling well outweigh the possible side effects caused by the drug. If your pet is on corticosteroids longer than one week, the dose will need to be slowly weaned down, it should not be stopped abruptly. In such situations, natural supplements and remedies like ours can prove extremely beneficial.

Antibiotics for your pet’s medication

There are, of course, many other classes of medications. Researching medications online can be beneficial, but it can sometimes also cause unnecessary worry. When researching your pet’s medication, always keep in mind that the drug company is required to list every possible side effect. These side effects are those that were reported during the clinical trial of the medication, and even if only a very small fraction of patients reported these effects they must be listed.

For example, you may read that your pet’s medication can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, lethargy, and neurological symptoms. This could mean that only 0.1% of cases ever see a single one of these symptoms. It does not necessarily mean that your pet has a high chance to develop every one of these side effects. Again, your vet has weighed the benefits against the risks of these medications and decided that the medications are in the best interest of your pet.

There are many, many types of antibiotics. Which antibiotic your veterinarian chooses for your pet depends on the bacteria which is being treated. There are antibiotics which target aerobic bacteria (bacteria which grows best in the presence of oxygen) and anaerobic bacteria (grows best without oxygen) There are also a few different forms, or shapes, that bacteria take. They can be either cocci (round), bacilli (rods) or spirochetes (spiral). Obviously with all of these different forms, choosing the appropriate antibiotic is extremely important. Often veterinarians will order a bacterial culture before choosing an antibiotic. This is to be sure that the correct medication is chosen.

Side effects of antibiotics are generally minor. They can cause mild gastric upset, which is usually remedied by giving the dose with food. They also are not able to distinguish beneficial bacteria from harmful bacteria, so they can cause a disruption in intestinal flora leading to diarrhea. This can be avoided by administering probiotics during treatment and for a few days after treatment. Or you can also consider getting NHV Plantaeris. It helps soothe the gut and helps relieve any digestive tract spasms.

One of the biggest concerns with antibiotics is antibiotic resistance. As with humans, it is extremely important that your pet finish the full course of any antibiotics prescribed (unless there are extreme adverse reactions, of course) Inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to bacteria becoming resistant to certain antibiotics, leaving them unable to be treated. NHV stimmune works like a natural antibiotic that can be helpful in such a situation.

How can NHV help your pet in conjunction with vet-prescribed medications?

cat at the vet

1. Liver and kidney Support

The processing of any medications in the body puts some stress on the liver. When your pet is on any medications, we recommend NHV Milk Thistle to help to protect the liver. NHV Milk Thistle also offers some kidney support. It is an excellent preventive herb that every pet can benefit from.

2. Healthy gut and diarrhea relief

Just like humans, medications can sometimes cause pets to have changes in bowel movements, including diarrhea. This is especially true with antibiotics. If you notice any changes to your pet’s bowel movements while on medications, always tell your vet. To support your pet’s gut and help keep bowel movements healthy, you can use NHV Plantaeris. The blend has herbs that help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and also help relieve digestive tract spasms.

3. Appetite and discomfort support

NHV Yucca is a herbal extract that helps stimulate appetite and also works like a natural discomfort reliever. It can be used in conjunction with the medicines your vet prescribes and help keep your pet comfortable, in less discomfort and maintain a healthy appetite.

4. Multivitamin to enhance the positives

NHV Multi Essentials is a herbal multivitamin that helps provide extra energy and nutrition to pets. It is an excellent supplement to give to a pet who is on medications or is fighting an illness because it enhances the positives of the treatment you are offering to your pet. It compliments the medications with nutritive herbs.

5. Condition specific remedies & supplements

NHV Pet Experts can help you find the supplements and remedies your pet needs that can fit right in your pet’s regimen. Many cancer fighting pets taking chemo and have found relief with our pet cancer supplements. While the medications treat a specific area, natural supplements help provide a holistic approach that supports the body’s vital organs and help maintain good quality of life. For instance, NHV Natures Immuno is a blend of medicinal mushrooms that helps revive the healthy cells that chemo may destroy. It helps support the positive effects of chemotherapy and holistically manage the negatives.


At NHV we believe in the power of integrative medicine. All of our supplements are safe to give along with veterinary medications and can complement your pet’s conventional regimen.  If you would like help finding which supplements might be right for your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact our Pet Experts!

Johanna RVT

Johanna RVT

Johanna is NHV’s in house Registered Veterinary Technician. Technicians are the veterinary equivalent of a human nurse. Johanna has over 10 years of experience in different types of veterinary clinics and hospitals. She has seen and assisted in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions and injuries. She will share her experiences in her monthly blog series “Vet Tech Rounds” to help our extended NHV family learn about common preventable medical cases and other interesting stories of vet clinic life.

Published: December 14, 2018

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