Monday, January 16, 2012

Cats are not small dogs and dogs are not small humans

Cats are not small dogs and dogs are not small humans

A LONG time ago, the first week of vet school, I received some very good advice from a wonderful professor. I was told that if I could remember that cats are not small dogs and dogs are not small humans, I'd keep myself, and my patients, out of a lot of trouble. My colleagues understand what I'm saying but I'll explain the significance of that wonderful nugget of information to you folks reading this blog. You can't treat cats like dogs and you can't treat cats and dogs like humans. You see, if you understood this, you would not kill your cat by giving it Tylenol or your dog Ibuprophen. We just love to hear how you used some of "Your" medicine to treat your pet...and now we have to try to fix the mess you created. So please, DON"T SELF MEDICATE YOUR PET - they're not small humans. ALWAYS call a vet before giving any medications - most towns/cities have 24 hour care so there is a vet you can reach by phone - that phone call may just save your pets life.


  1. I had a pathology professor in vet school whose brother was an MD. I found my professor in the computer lab one day, madly researching. When I asked what he was looking for, he told me that his MD brother gave his dog a couple of days of Naproxen and then eventually called his brother the vet to see if that was ok. My professor was researching the LD50 (the amount of a substance that constitutes a lethal dose in 50% of the patients that receive it). Yeah, his brother killed the dog.

    And I cannot tell you the sheer number of cats that I have seen that have been treated with a dog topical parasitic agent and have either almost died or died.

    The excitement and the frustration hidden in veterinary medicine is that we have to know how to treat so many different species. We can work on any animal except for the human, which means we have to either know or know how to find out that information. I love that I can work on any animal, but you can't do it without remembering that the are each very different with respects toward what medications are absorbed, which ones are poisonous, and which ones work well. Because I cannot remember everything, I have to remember limitations and investigate and not just shoot from the hip. That could lead to a rabbit getting an Rx for a beta lactam...which would not end with a healthy rabbit.

  2. The half-life of naproxen in dogs is about 72 hrs. That means a toxic dose will keep going & going till those kidneys are toasted.

  3. Thank you!! This has been on my mind for some time.

    I see a high number of client "self" medicated pets--many end in death. I am going to point to one profession here: human medicine, the nurses and the MDs are the worst. Relatives of these professionals: Your MD or nurse relative may be the best in their field but that does not mean that they will give you the best advice on your pet!! All veterinarians have face-palmed with an MD induced pet death--all of us. That means thousands of MDs are recommending potentially deadly therapies for their own and their family's and friends' pets.

    Also, many things recommended over the counter at pet stores and animal supply houses are not much safer. Two common examples: Buffered aspirin/pet aspirin and horse/cattle dewormer. Yikes!! to both. Sure, Dr. Google will tell you that there is a safe aspirin dose for dogs and a safe horse/cattle dewormer dose to prevent heartworms. Dr. Google means "safe" in the sense that Russian Roulette is "safe" until you click the chamber with the bullet. I have had a patient perforate her stomach (complete rupture of the stomach tissue with leakage into the abdomen along with a fatal hemorrhage) from a single aspirin that was below Dr. Google's recommended dose. She did not have any other disease of her stomach tissue according to the pathology testing. So, in my search of how this could happen, I discovered, this is not that uncommon, there are many cases of perforation from a single aspirin.

    The dewormer is similar. Yes, there is an effective dose to prevent heartworms but this is the "Goldie Locks" of heartworm prevention: if you accidentally give an too much (easy), you will kill your pet. If you give too little, your pet gets heartworms and if you give just the right amount, your dog will get intestinal worms (unless you are also deworming monthly). You are screwed, just buy the real deal, it is seriously cheaper in the long run. We vets all do it, I would think that our actions speak our convictions the loudest, eh?

    Oh, and on the heartworm prevention: BUY IT FROM YOUR VET. Seriously. Online pharmacies promise guarantees that they have no intention of honoring. The manufacturers void their guarantee when it is purchased anywhere but from a veterinarian. If you do not believe me, call the number on the box of prevention and just ask. Yes I want to make money off of you just like the online pharmacy, but I actually care about your pet while I am doing that. We have mentioned here that online pet pharmacies have sold heartworm prevention here in the US that is half the dose that your pet needs but looks exactly like the US product. You will figure out that it isn't working when your dog tests positive for heartworms. $1800 or so and two or more arsenic derived treatments later, most people are saying, "I wish'd I would of...."

    1. Oh, don't worry FranTick... those people have no intention on having another heartworm test done either until their dog is coughing and it's clearly evident on chest rads (that is, IF they do chest rads). Because, you know, he hardly ever goes outside. *sigh* And, unfortunately, I have problems turning down Heartgard if no heartworm test is done because I'd rather they be on SOMETHING. Maybe I'm a sucker and an idiot and I'm sure at some time this is going to come back and bite me but, at this point, it's a risk I'm willing to take.

      **Side note: Wouldn't it be lovely if technical blogs could have a special technical spell check so it wouldn't flag words like "heartworm"?

  4. The worst I saw was a client who mentioned he had been giving Ibuprofen for his dog's arthritis--for a surprisingly long time. We treated her resulting chronic kidney failure for a while with SQ fluids at home... until he decided to save a few bucks and instead of buying a bag of fluids, he cut the top off a bag, put plain water in, and gave THAT SQ. Finally killed her.