What Medications Are Really Doing For Your Dog

I would like to preface this by saying that I have complete and absolute respect for Veterinarians and the medicine they practice. This post is meant to inform Dog owners about the potential risks and side effects of commonly used medications, not to criticize those who apply them with the best of intentions.

Why do we love our dogs? There is no end to the internet when researching the psychology of the bond. But, to summarize and simplify what the limitless hours of painstaking scientific research tell us, we love our dogs because they love us.

Like many,  a dog was my first love for anything outside of my biological family. And, so it was my first broken heart when he passed. I have always felt that the cruelest joke in life was to be blessed with such a loyal, loving, intuitive companion, only to have it taken away in such a short lifespan.

Given that our dogs are dearly loved family members, it only makes sense that we want what's best for them. We want to keep them as healthy and happy as possible, which will likely include various medications and supplements throughout the course of their lives.

The positive results of many medications are so obvious and effective that we often fail to consider any potential negative impact of their use, whether there are any possible safer long term alternatives, or whether they are even truly necessary at all.

The following is a look at two of the most commonly prescribed medications fro dogs today.


Flea and Tic Preventative

"What kind of flea and tic preventative is your dog on?" This is the question every first time vet visit is going to elicit, no matter where you live. And, if your dog isn't on the one they recommend by the end of the checkup, you are a terrible, irresponsible person. 

Of course we don't want these vectors of parasites and disease anywhere near our dogs. So, why wouldn't we take this simple precaution? What could it hurt? Well... your dog.

These medications are neurotoxins - biological weapons that are designed to be delivered to the enemy through your dog's body.

The FDA stated that flea and tick medications are causing neurologic issues in pets. The symptoms most often reported include muscle tremors, ataxia and seizures.

The side effects reported for these drugs are:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Ataxia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin irritations
  • Lethargy

Luckily, there are alternatives. Vinegar is one example. Combine 1 quart of water, 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of baby shampoo or liquid dish soap. Use this mixture to bathe your dog once or twice a month. Vinegar kills fleas and ticks on contact and can prevent future infestations.

Or, you can spend a little more for the convenience of a factory made natural alternative like Wondercide.



Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, and Previcox are the most common. 

These Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are often prescribed by veterinarians to help reduce inflammation and pain in a disease like arthritis, or for minor injuries and inflammation.

It is very likely that your vet may recommend NSAIDs for your dog at some point, but may not tell you about the risks associated with these drugs.

But, here are some things you should know:

Dr. Colin Burrows is an internal medicine specialist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. 

He states, “Aspirin and other NSAIDs frequently cause gastritis or peptic ulcers and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary”.


The manufacturers of Metacam report the following warnings,

“As a class, cyclooxygenase inhibitory NSAIDs may be associated with gastrointestinal (gut), renal (kidney), hepatic (liver) toxicity.

Dogs that have experienced adverse reactions from one NSAID may experience adverse reactions from another NSAID.

Serious adverse reactions associated with this drug class can occur without warning and in rare situations result in death.” 

Kidney specialist Dr. Gregory F Grauer has a warning for dog owners. 

“Dogs of advanced age, those with subclinical kidney disease, or on concurrent medications such as furosemide are at an increased risk for kidney damage when an NSAID is added to their treatment protocol”

 According to Dr. Ross Hauser, “One of the most serious adverse reactions to NSAIDs, that is little appreciated, is that as a class of compounds they cause the breakdown of articular cartilage, thereby accelerating osteoarthritis, the very disease for which they are most commonly prescribed! The pathogenesis of osteoarthritis is accelerated by NSAIDs.” 

Given these risks, you have to ask yourself if the gain (if there is any, other than temporary pain relief) is worth it.

But, again, there are Natural Alternatives to consider. Fish Oils, Glucosamine, Turmeric, CBD... All have shown varying degrees of treating pain and inflammation in dogs.

An excellent article on alternative ways to deal with Arthritis in your dog can be found in The Whole Dog Journal.

Or, another great alternative is Canine Drops 500, developed by Military and Law Enforcement K9 to be used for working dogs.

We hope to continue writing about other potential risks of common dog treatments and medications, and possible alternatives in the future. And, to focus on the overall welfare of our beloved companions, as they certainly deserve the best we can give them.


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