Ad Infinitum, Again

In our previous piece, we discussed important things to know about a long-term prescription that’s being sent home for your pet. Here, you will find important things to do while taking that medicine. Monitor the patient’s condition faithfully at home, and stay in close contact with your veterinarian if any changes are observed. One example would be checking nightly respiratory rates on a pet that takes heart medication. For the majority of heart problems, this is a very sensitive means of determining whether your pet is doing well, or starting to deteriorate. Remember, intermittent deterioration while taking heart medication is not totally unexpected. 

Don’t be tempted to adjust medication at home without talking to your doctor. This is especially relevant to diabetic households. You’veseen the insulin doserecalibrated by the doctor several times;perhaps you could just mimic what you observedUnfortunately, it’s so complicated to manage cat and dog diabetes that many veterinary specialists have devoted their entire careers to this disease. I might add that if something untoward occurs, you will not want to be the one responsible. Sometimes bad things do happen in the course of a chronic illness, no matter who is in the driver’s seat. Let the doctor be the one to bear that burden instead of taking unsupervised steps that will ultimately require you to blame yourself.

One more important tip: make sure you agree, from your observations at home, that your pet is genuinely feeling better on the medication. Once a long-term prescription is in place, the temptation is to believe that nothing more needs to be done, that nothing morecan be done. In most cases, you should be able to observe a relatively obvious improvement in your pet’s behavior after starting a long-term prescription (although the waiting period may vary). If that hasn’t been the case, don’t be shy about discussing it with your doctor. If her pain is not controlled and she does not move more easily on arthritis pills, then we should be trying something different or something more. If he still has loose stools after starting thyroid medicine, make sure you report this to the vet. Now that hishyperthyroidism is under control, a second affliction may have revealed itself. Sadly, our patients are not confined to one illness at a time.

A candid conversation with your doctor will help the two of you decide whether modifications can still be madeWith someconditions, the testing might show good control (thus satisfying the doctor), while the pet’s quality of life still needs some adjustments. You may be familiar with this in a different context; it’s called “doing well on paper.” Those situations are challenging, but everyone wants yourcompanion to feel his absolute best even though he now has an illness listed on his permanent record. Pets with an incurable ailmentdon’t get filed under “Beyond Repair” or “Beginning of the End”. They just have a different set of background conditions to work with as they age. You and your doctor can team up to make that the finest life possible.

Dr. M.S. Regan