Common Dog Medicines That Can Improve Your Pup's Quality Of Life

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Any dog owner will tell you that modern medicine plays a huge role in the quality of your pup's life. This is especially true with senior pets who often become afflicted with ailments common in old age. From preventative remedies for heartworm to lifesaving ones for diabetes and heart disease, there are many common medicines that are essential to your pet leading a long, happy life.

One of the most common preventative medications for dogs and cats is heartworm medicine such as Advantage. This combination of imidacloprid and moxidectin is a topical solution applied monthly to the area between your pet's shoulder blades. This insecticidal agent not only treats and prevents heartworm disease but also kills fleas, intestinal parasites and ear mites. Advantage can be administered to dogs older than 7 weeks of age and cats older than 8 weeks.

Another common ailment for older dogs is osteoarthritis. Stiffness in the joints can limit your pet's mobility, making it difficult to climb stairs or even walk. While osteoarthritis is not curable, at least there are medications available to ease chronic pain and inflammation so your pup can be more comfortable in his daily activities.

One such medication is Deramaxx (deracoxib). This chewable, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug is used both for arthritis and to relieve pain associated with orthopedic surgery. Deramaxx is usually well tolerated with few side effects but, as with any medication, be sure to keep aware of any changes in your pet's behavior, appetite or bathroom habits.

As with arthritis, another "human" illness that also affects our pets is diabetes. Pets who are overweight, consume a diet high in table food and get too little exercise are prone to developing this disease as they get older. With diabetes, the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not effective in controlling blood sugar. Like humans, dogs and cats with diabetes often need injectable insulin such as Humulin N Insulin to regulate blood sugar. This medication controls hyperglycemia in dogs and diabetes mellitus in cats by lowering blood sugar.

Dosage is dependent on the size and breed of your pet and should be administered after a meal according to your veterinarian's instructions. Often, getting the right dosage of insulin to alleviate the symptoms of diabetes is a matter of trail and error. Pets should be closely watched with regard to water consumption, urination, weight gain or loss and lethargy. If your pet shows these symptoms, the insulin dose will likely
need to be adjusted.

Diseases of the heart, lungs and kidneys are also, unfortunately, quite common among older pets. Dogs and cats afflicted with congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema, kidney and liver diseases often suffer from excessive body fluids which make it difficult for them to breathe and function normally. Often, veterinarians will prescribe a diuretic such as Furosemide to help remove excess fluids, treat high blood pressure and regulate electrolyte levels.

Water pills such as Furosemide work by making your pet thirstier. This results in more frequent urination, which in turn, eliminates fluids. Dosage depends on the type and breed of your pet and should be administered according to your veterinarian's prescription. Furosemide is available as both a pill and a liquid.

Asthma is yet another common medical problem for pets that can greatly affect their quality of life. When simple pleasures like playing fetch or chasing a string toy lead to wheezing and gasping for air, pet owners must find a medicine to alleviate that. But while it may seem odd, prescription inhalers such as the Advair HFA inhaler are also made for cats and dogs.

The Advair HFA combines fluticasone propionate, the same inhaled corticosteroid medicine found in Flovent, with a long-acting medicine found in Servant. Together, these medicines work to prevent airway constriction and inflammation, thereby controlling symptoms such as wheezing. There are even specially made delivery chambers to administer the medicine such as the AeroKat and AeroDawg aerosol chambers.

As is evident by the development of asthma inhalers that are specially made for dogs and cats, veterinary medicine has come a long way in treating pets. With this in mind, the availability of antidepressants to control unwanted behavior should come as no surprise. Fluoxetine is one such medication prescribed to treat issues like separation anxiety, inappropriate urination, aggression and obsessive compulsive behaviors.

This selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant comes in tablets, chewable tablets, capsules and liquid form and is often prescribed for both dogs and cats along with active behavior modification exercises. Dosage is usually once per day for several weeks, but your veterinarian may adjust this based on the animal's breed and size. Side effects include lethargy, loss of appetite and nausea, so pet owners should pay attention to any such changes in Fido's demeanor.

As most pet owners will tell you, your animals are more than just possessions; they are full-fledged family members who are doted on with fancy beds, treats, toys and even clothes. When they get sick, most people will do whatever it takes to fix whatever ails their four legged friends. Thanks to modern veterinary science, many of the medications used to treat the human equivalent of the diseases are now available for animals as well. These common medicines are lifesavers that go a long way in improving your pup's quality of life, ensuring your best friend will be at your side for many years to come.

Jackson Pauloski is a freelance writer who writes about pet care and products such as dog medicine.

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