Ad Infinitum

In the course of their lives here with us, many pets will be prescribed a long-term medication, i.e., a pharmaceutical used for managing acondition which will never be “cured”. Hormonal problems such as thyroid or adrenal disease fall into this category. They really don’t tend to getworse over time, but the medication and monitoring can never be put on pause. On the other hand, illnesses like congestive heart failure and chronic bronchitis gradually become a heavier burden as the pet ages, because that is their nature. The therapy used to control these escalating conditions is crucial, and the regimen tends to become more intense over time; interrupting thatroutine willbring about a relapse or even a full-on collapse. A third type of long-term medicine requires frequent dosage adjustments, both up and down,and those changes can only be made by the doctor. Conditions that fall into this category are cancer, diabetes, and the various autoimmune diseases. So there are a lot of pets out there taking medication ad infinitumwith no foreseeable end.

It’s always important to make sure you understand the medicines being sent home. If you’re not clear on what transpired at the vet’s office and what to expect after leaving, keep asking questionsSometimes pet owners will assume they’re finished with the medicine at the end of the first bottle, even though it was actually meant to be a lifelong prescription. Meanwhile, the doctor was assuming the patient would keepusing it until he told them to stop. Let’s work together to make communication hiccups like that a thing of the past.

Long-term prescriptions virtually always require some type of lab testing to keep them current. For hormonal problems like depressedthyroid or hyperactive adrenal glands, the laboratory will check to see that blood levels fall within the target range. For diabetics, this would be regular blood sugar assessments. Make sure you understand exactly what measures to take on the day of the blood test. If you can’t remember what time to appear at the clinic, call your doctor to confirm. Correct timing is necessary to ensure that lab results accurately reflect the patient’s progress. In plain English, your money will be wasted if you don’t prepare for the test properly, and these things are not cheap.

A savvy pet owner will find out early on what to expect if a dose of medication is missed or administered off schedule. Should you give it as soon as you remember? Call the emergency serviceThis situation could arise repeatedly over the course of a pet’s illness, since we will have many opportunities to slip upIf you forget a whole dose of thyroid medicine, the world will keep on turning. If you forget a dose of medicine for adrenal gland failure, you could end up with a couple days’ hospital stay, or worse. If your budget comes up short this month, does the pet prescription still need to be at the very top of the list? Your doctor can explain the medical side and help you develop the best strategy for riding out a financial rough spot. 

Dr. M.S. Regan