Do you own a pet? A dog, cat, rat or snake? If so, there’s a pretty good chance that, some time in the past you’ve had to make a visit to the veterinarian. Our pets are just as likely to get sick as we are. Increasingly, pet owners are starting to consider their pets members of the family, and as a result, more pet owners want to know exactly what’s going into their pets’ medicine.

Luckily, there are plenty of places to get that information. As drug compounding has grown as a practice, veterinary compounding pharmacists and veterinarians have developed better and better relationships. Your pharmacist can tell you all about the components of your pet’s medicine, and give you tips on administering that medicine.

No one article can tell you everything you need to know about how to choose a veterinary compounding pharmacy or what to expect your pet’s doctor to prescribe. But here are a few of the more common ingredients your pharmacist may be working with.

Prednisone. This drug, which tastes foul to dogs and cats, is prescribed for a range of medical problems, including glandular disorders, dermatological problems and allergies.

Potassium Bromide. This anti-seizure drug is often prescribed along with another anti-seizure medication called Phenobarbitol.

Clomipramine. Your vet may prescribe this for anxiety issues if your pet is having problems being alone, or if he has an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Methimazole. This is used to treat hyperthyroidism in dogs and cats.

All of these meds have one common factor: They taste bad to dogs and cats. Fortunately, a pharmacist can help you here; the rise of compounding has created an atmosphere of good communication among vets, pharmacists and pet owners. And everyone knows a drug won’t do your pet any good if he won’t take it.

But taste isn’t the only problem – as you probably know, dogs and cats have superb senses of smell. Cats, in particular, have spectacular noses, and even have specialized organs in their mouths that allow them to “taste” smells in the air. Animal drugs must compensate for this.

To counteract this, things like fish oil and cod liver oil are added to the drugs – substances whose smells are so strong that they counteract the smells of the medicine. Or at least, they distract your pet from those smells. Dosages are also heavily salted. So when you open up your cat’s medicine, beware – it may stink!


by D. Michael Kirby