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Center for Veterinary Medicine updates medication error guidelines

Medication errors for your pets can be avoided with minimal effort.
Medication errors for your pets can be avoided with minimal effort.

The Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) branch of the FDA just put out an updated report on medication errors. The report is a good reminder of how you can help to minimize any errors in your pet's medications.
Your veterinarian, the veterinary clinic staff and any pharmacist who may be involved all strive to prevent any errors in your pet's drugs. The CVM even takes part by doing things like looking at the names of drugs (to prevent two medications with similar names that might get confused) and establishing rules on packaging for bulk medications. Package inserts must also contain specific information including method of administration and potential side effects.
Still errors can occur. Illegible hand writing has led many veterinary practices to using printed labels.
You now have some responsibilities to help keep your pet safe. When a medication is dispensed for your pet, you need to know the following:
1)What is the name of the drug and why it is being dispensed for your pet. For example, is this an antibiotic for an infection?
2) Will this drug interact with any of the other medications or supplements my pet is taking? It is your responsibility to let your veterinarian know about any supplements your pet is on. Drug interactions can have serious consequences.
3) What are the most likely side effects? What actions should you take if your pet shows some of these side effects?
4) How is the medication to be dispensed? Is this ear medication to be used directly in the ear or given to the pet by mouth to act via the whole body? Can this pill be given with food or should it be given in between meals? Many medications are effected by the calcium in dairy products and should not be given with cheese (a favorite way to hide pills from clever pets!)
5) Exactly how is the medication to be given? Are those directions for one pill twice a day or two pills once a day? Should you call if you accidentally give an extra dose or forget a dose?
6) Does the medication need to be stored in a special way - in a dark area or in a refrigerator?
7) Can the medication be crushed or cut up to be given to your pet? A very bitter medication may be best given intact Some medications have special coatings that are destroyed if you break the pill in two.
With some effort on your part, medication errors can be greatly reduced when it comes to your pet.

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