Why I recommend small prescription amounts

pet prescription medication

Most people probably never think twice about getting a prescription from their vet and administering it to their cat or dog.  While I do, I’m still susceptible to learning lessons that I feel are important and want to pass along to help others.  My most recent experience with a couple of my dogs serves as a valuable lesson about asking lots of questions before the prescription is written and why I recommend small prescription amounts so you don’t end up with a large private pharmacy collection of expensive, unreturnable medication.

Abby is diagnosed with a UTI

In early March, a month before she turned 11 years old, Abby, my yellow Labrador, was diagnosed with a UTI (urinary tract infection).  After taking a sample of her urine to the vet to be analyzed, Abby was prescribed Clavamox.

Now, normally I wouldn’t put any of my pets on antibiotics without trying other avenues first.  The difference with this case was that Abby had been on numerous supplements, including colloidal silver, turkey tail mushroom, and some other immune-boosting supplements that I was using to try to reduce a couple of her lipomas that had suddenly started growing in the fall.

Though frustrated that Abby had gotten this UTI given how much time, effort, and money I had spent on things to try to get rid of the lipomas as well as keep her immune system strong to ward off any age-related illnesses, I still had a tough decision to make.  I decided due to the severity of this UTI to not mess around and go ahead and give her the antibiotics.

Abby’s test results had shown a serious infection and I was worried about it progressing into something more serious if we didn’t get it knocked out quickly.  Abby had been on antibiotics before when she’d had her previous lipoma removal surgeries, so I wasn’t really worried about how she’d handle being on them.

why I recommend small prescription amounts for pets
Abby at one of her many vet visits.

Abby’s antibiotic resistant bacteria and the terrible options

Fast forward a few weeks later after the vet felt a culture of Abby’s urine was needed to determine exactly what strain of bacteria she had so the appropriate antibiotic could be administered.  Up until that point, the Clavamox had helped, but not eliminated Abby’s UTI.

During the process of using ultrasound to guide a needle directly into the bladder to get the urine sample (known as ‘cystocentesis‘), it was discovered that Abby had bladder stones, suspected by my vet to be from the UTI.  Unfortunately, the culture revealed that Abby had an antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria, which was why the Clavamox had helped, but not completely eliminated her UTI. 

After listening to the vet rattle off the details and side effects of the four powerful antibiotics capable of killing Abby’s particular straing of bacteria, which ranged from things like having to wear gloves to administer, only available as an injection, being hard on the kidneys, possible bone marrow suppression, and liver toxicity, I chose what I felt and the vet agreed, was the one with the least amount of terrible side effects.  It was Chloramphenicol.  I had to wear gloves while handling the pills and bone marrow suppression was the possible serious side effect.

If you’ve read my post about killing one of my dogs with a prescription medication here, you know that it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through with any of my animals.  Suddenly finding myself having to choose from a few pills that sounded like something from a mad scientists collection, I immediately had anxiety about it happening again.

Making a hard decision and the vigilant monitoring

After a lot of research, reservation, and a long discussion with the vet about a plan to make sure we minimized the risk of Abby having any harmful or deadly reactions, the vet and I agreed the best plan was to perform weekly blood tests.  This would allow us to make sure Abby was not showing any adverse reactions to the Chloramphenicol.

While the vet automatically tried to prescribe a month’s worth of the pills, knowing that vets don’t take back unused pills for any reason, I decided, due to the potential side effects and the cost of the pills, a smaller dose would be smarter.  Every week, after making sure Abby’s bloodwork was fine, we’d refill another week’s worth of the scary antibiotic.

On the 4th week of Abby being on Chloramphenicol, I noticed a tremor in her hind leg as she was standing at her food bowl eating.  Having been watching her like a hawk for any signs of anything amiss with her, I was immediately concerned.  I also noticed Abby suddenly having a harder time getting up from lying down.

Despite the vet denying that the tremor or trouble getting up was related to the drug, my own deeper research revealed that hind end weakness IS a potential side effect, albeit lesser known or as serious as the bone marrow suppression.  It was something that wasn’t mentioned in any of the common side effects listed for Chloramphenicol.

Undeterred by the vet’s insistence that hind end weakness wasn’t a side effect, I did a specific search for hind end weakness and Chloramphenicol and found that it indeed was.  That is an example of why it’s very important to be mindful of any changes in your pet when you put them on any new medication and then do a thorough search to see if there is any correlation between the medication and the symptom.

My own research results and the end of the bacteria

As I’ve said before in other posts I’ve written, vets cannot be trusted to know or warn you about all of the side effects of the drugs they are prescribing.  That’s not especially hard to believe given how many medications there are and all the possible side effects associated with all of them.

As a well-informed pet owner, you should try to know what the side effects are and be on the lookout for them.  Even though the vet denied hind end weakness was possible based on her sources, I found several sources that did mention it.  As a courtesy that I’m sure she probably didn’t appreciate, I e-mailed her the four different studies I found where it was mentioned to prove to her that it was indeed a possibility.

Luckily, the side effects didn’t start until Abby was just a day away from another urine test, and given she had no more UTI symptoms, I elected to stop the Chloramphenicol as soon as I noticed the side effects.  The test came back clear for any bacteria, so Abby no longer needed to take the pills I had come to hate.

Even as stingy as I had been with the refills, I still ended up with several days worth of pills.  I was glad that I had decided to only get a weeks worth at a time in case Abby, for whatever reason, needed to stop taking them.

Lacey has an infected growth

As we were wrapping up the UTI treatment and focusing on dissolving the bladder stones with Abby, I discovered during a bath that Lacey, my other senior dog, had a large matted mass on her chest/armpit area.

After cleaning the area the best I could during her bath and then inspecting it closer with Will’s help later, I found I had another dog with another potentially serious issue to be concerned about.  It was an angry looking growth.  I immediately trimmed back what hair I could, sprayed the thumb-sized infected and weepy growth with colloidal silver, and made a vet appointment.

At the vet appointment, due to her age, which is at least 10 years old, I wanted a full blood panel done to make sure there wasn’t anything else going on.  After high liver enzymes were detected, the vet felt an x-ray was a good idea given Lacey’s age.  After an x-ray revealed some oddities with Lacey’s gallbladder and by the looks of the infected growth, the vet felt that antibiotics were warranted.

Why I recommend small prescription amounts for pets
Lacey has a lot of hair, making finding and then treating her growth, very difficult.

Lacey is prescribed an antibiotic

Lacey had also been getting colloidal silver in her food on a regular basis and I’d sprayed it on the infected growth a few times before the appointment with no noticeable change.  Not understanding how another dog getting regular dosings of colloidal silver also ended up with such a nasty infection, I was once again put in a position of wondering how best to proceed.  Due to how bad the infected growth was, I agreed to the vet’s recommendation of Amoxicillin for her.

Up to that point, Lacey had never been on any prescription medication.  She’d been prescribed Deramaxx once without an actual diagnosis, but when I later researched it and discovered it was an NSAID, I found out the hard way that once medication leaves the vet clinic, (understandably) it is nonreturnable.  Given the severity of the infection and it being in a difficult location to treat, I really wasn’t overly concerned when the vet wanted to prescribe Lacey Amoxicillin.

Unfortunately, after only one or two doses of the Amoxicillin, Lacey stopped eating and had awful diarrhea.  The Amoxicillin clearly didn’t agree with her.  At a return visit for an ultrasound of Lacey’s gallbladder, and still no improvement in Lacey’s infected growth, despite my vigilant treatment with colloidal silver, I opted to try another antibiotic the vet recommended, the more expensive Enrofloxacin.

Lesson learned about asking questions about prescriptions

During the conversation about antibiotics and Lacey’s reaction to the Amoxicillin, I asked about the effect on her liver the Amoxicillin would have had since her initial test had shown she had elevated liver numbers.  I discovered that Amoxicillin was not “liver friendly”.  How could this vet overlook that and prescribe it to my dog who had elevated liver enzymes?  Or at the very least, not discuss it with me!?

So here’s the takeaway on that experience: If your dog is diagnosed with high liver or any other numbers and the vet wants to prescribe them medication, including antibiotics, discuss with them the effect that drug may have on those numbers and that organ.  You don’t want to do more damage to another part of the body while treating something else.

Another antibiotic, another bad reaction

Unfortunately, Lacey had a similar reaction with the Enrofloxacin as she did the Amoxicillin after only a dose or two, so once again, I pulled her off of them.  With her inability to handle antibiotics and my best attempts at using anything and everything I had in my bag of treatment options, including colloidal silver, Vetricyn, honey, and manuka honey, her growth remained infected and continued to weep.

While we had planned to get the infection under control first, then have the growth surgically removed, that plan was not working out.  Instead, since Lacey was not able to tolerate the antibiotics we tried and nothing else was working, the vet and I decided it best to just go ahead and have the growth removed.

Looking back, I wonder if Lacey’s growth didn’t have the same bacteria that Abby had.  That would explain how both dogs had such stubborn cases of infection.  Both dogs did share some of the same sleeping and resting areas, so I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility.  Unfortunately, we never tested the growth to see any of the details about it, but I will always wonder if that’s how this whole saga started.

Lacey’s prescription-free post-surgery protocol

After seeing how badly Lacey reacted to the antibiotics, I opted not to give her any after her surgery.  I also reminded the vet of my universal policy that none of my dogs be given any NSAID’s of any kind.  In preparation of Lacey recuperating back home, I made sure all the sheets on the floor had been washed in hot water and other parts of the floor were steam cleaned to hopefully prevent reinfection.

Luckily, the incision made by the removal of the growth on Lacey was in a spot where there was very little to no contact with the floor or bedding once the growth was removed, and it was not in an area that had any tension on the sutures.  The first point was fortunate, as it was impossible to keep the area covered due to its location on her.

By just monitoring the site and checking for any heat, which I knew would indicate infection, I was able to treat Lacey successfully using the T-Relief Mobility pills (that contain arnica) here, http://amzn.to/2uK54wf and Crystal Star Inflama Relief pills (that contain turmeric) here, http://amzn.to/2sq6hYE.  I keep both of these on hand for any injuries or aches and pains in the dogs.

My cache of antibiotics and my thoughts

Despite my best efforts, I still have a cabinet full of various expensive antibiotics that I’ll probably never use.  Fortunately, I don’t have nearly as many of them as if I had let the vet give me the full course amount she would have done if I had not insisted otherwise.

One thing I learned in all of this, which I’ve only scratched the surface of here, is that at some point, you will undoubtedly probably have to stand up for your cat or dog’s treatment.  Don’t feel intimidated or embarrassed to question or decline what the vet says or prescribes, and if nothing else, tell them you’d like to go home and do some research first.

During the ordeal with Abby and Lacey, I was constantly stressed out about giving them medications that I didn’t really want to give them and that have nasty side effects.  I had 10 animals at the time and that’s a lot of monitoring going on on a good day, let alone when you are intentionally giving one of them a drug with potential side effects you have to be worried about catching.

Being on constant watch was exhausting to say the least, but I can’t imagine what the stress level would have been if I hadn’t been able to be home to constantly monitor Abby and Lacey.  I quite possibly would have missed those slight things like the tremor in Abby’s leg if I’d just set her food bowl down and went off to do laundry or had a busy family to take care of and didn’t notice her suddenly having trouble getting up.

In case you’re wondering, Abby recovered from the tremors and her hind end weakness.  I’d found a vet that did acupuncture and took Abby to a few visits hoping to help with the antibiotic-related issues and also balance her system out to stop any more lipomas from forming or the current ones from growing.  During her treatment of the UTI, she’d developed another very large lipoma in her rear left inner thigh, opposite the leg that got the tremors.

At a loss as to how to get the insanity of Abby’s bad luck to stop, I took her to four of the initally vet recommended six acupuncture treatments, before another cat showed up one evening and I no longer had the extra funds or three hours to make the over 80 mile round trip to the vet every week for the treatments.  Once finances aren’t so tight with all the vet bills associated with Abby and Lacey’s tests and treatment, I do hope to resume the acupuncture, as I do feel it helped her in some aspects.

My discoveries and plan for future treatment

In the winding down days of Abby’s UTI treatment, I began an intense search for an alternative treatment plan if I needed to pull Abby off the Chloramphenicol before the UTI was gone.  Starting and stopping antibiotics before the bacteria is completely gone can cause the bacteria to rebound with a vengeance, so I was afraid to stop using what was working for that reason, but I wanted to have a plan B in case Abby was unable to continue taking the pills but still had the UTI.

During my research for any feedback from other pet owners who were dealing with staphylococcus pseudintermedius (S. intermedius), the bacteria Abby tested positive for, or using Chloramphenicol, I ran across the recommendation for this book, https://amzn.to/2ZUo5zv on herbal antibiotics for treatment of drug-resistant bacteria that came highly recommended by other pet owners.

Unfortunately, I found and purchased the book too late to help Abby and Lacey, but I feel much better knowing I have it in my arsenal for any future need.  Keep in mind that the book was written for humans, so you’d want to make sure whatever treatment is recommended is safe for your dog or cat.

I also want to mention another interesting healing module I found that really intrigued me.  It’s called gemmotherapy and uses embryonic tissues from plants to heal and detoxify.  Here are a couple of articles you can read to learn more about it and the various ailments one vet has used gemmotherapies on and how he administers them:

Undoing the antibiotic damage

Of course, the aftermath of giving antibiotics is the destruction it does to the good gut bacteria, which is needed for a healthy immune system.  While I have found pumpkin and slippery elm to be the best, most shelf-stable and economical treatments for getting rid of diarrhea of any kind, including antibiotic-induced diarrhea, they don’t replenish the good gut bacteria.

While I didn’t find any probiotic that really stood out for my dogs, after researching and trying a few different brands, this is the probiotic many people rave about in the groups I’m in and that I’m currently giving Abby and Lacey, https://amzn.to/34unaoA.  In the future, now armed with my newfound knowledge and book, I hope not to have to travel this expensive, antibiotic-induced nightmare path again.

 

 

 

To my faithful followers, I apologize for being MIA for so many months.  If you read this article, you’ve gotten a tiny glimpse into what the last several months have been like, and are not over yet, as we wrap up summer.  In addition to dealing with Abby and Lacey’s health issues, I also took in another animal, a cat that showed up at the end of June, bringing my total number of animals to 11.  To say 2019 has been awful in so many ways and my hands have been full is an understatement.  Since my priority has been and always will be taking care of my animals, the blog got put on the back burner until I felt I had a moment to spare and could put out something worthwhile to help others.  I’ve been sharing this journey on my Facebook page here, https://www.facebook.com/savingscatsanddogswhilesavingcash/, so if you aren’t already hanging out with me there, that’s a good way to keep up with the day to day goings on of my crew as well as put names to faces and personalities of the animals I write about here on my blog.  I appreciate your understanding and promise I will try to get back to putting out regular and helpful posts as soon as I can.  ~ CC

 


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4 thoughts on “Why I recommend small prescription amounts

  1. Oh. My. You deserve to be PAID by that vet for giving her exceptionally valuable information.
    Shame on that vet! As with all types of doctors, they are supposed to be keeping up-to-date with their acquiring of knowledge.
    Just want to give you my commiserations.
    Thank you so much for all this.

    1. Tamara,

      Thank you for reading and commenting! The sad part about me sharing the information (which included other vets’ accounts) I found with the vet is that I’m not sure she even acknowledges it or will even mention it in the future to any other clients that give the medication to their dog. Either due to stopping the meds, the acupuncture, or combination of both, Abby no longer has the tremors or difficulty getting up, so there is evidence there that they were indeed caused by the meds. Unfortunately, I’m still not sure the vet is capable of realizing that and accepting it, because her “sources” don’t say it is a side effect. It all just comes down to it being another learning experience for me that I share here with others.

  2. Re antibiotics: I was happy to have learned about the long -acting CONVENIA for cats. If you’ve ever pilled a cat, you know why. Later, I discovered that this antibiotic does not leave the body for the longest time (unlike others that you can quit and be done) and was even respononsible for a death. Not sure what impact this will have on my decisions in the future — but at least I will think twice before using it.
    m

    1. Marina,

      Thanks for bringing up the CONVENIA warning to help others. Fortunately, whenever my cats have had any issues, they’ve been minor and colloidal silver has worked very well. On the other occasions where I’ve needed to give them things, I’ve found crushed pills in sardines (smooshed up into mush with plenty of liquid) works well as a disguise. I know ALL drugs have potential side effects, but I think vets should be required to go over them with the pet owners before they administer or send them home with them so everyone (vet included) is aware of the potential side effects, some of which can be death.

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