Trips to the vet aren’t at the top of anyone’s list of fun activities, and they probably aren’t on your pet’s list, either. But they should be on your to-do list, whether you’ve just adopted a kitten or you’ve got a loveable senior pup who’s been everything from your bedside nurse to your errand buddy. And unless your pet is there for an annual checkup, you’ll probably walk out with a pet prescription and detailed instructions on how to administer it.
You might wonder if a pet medication is really necessary, or if there might be an over-the-counter option that could work just as well. But if your vet has prescribed veterinary medicines, there is a good reason for it, and it’s your duty as a pet parent to follow through in giving it to your pet just as prescribed.
Here are some of the most common reasons why cat and dog prescription medications are prescribed and what they can do for your pet.
1. Finding Fleas or Ticks on Dogs and Cats
There’s a brief moment of disgust that happens when you’re petting your pup or kitty and you see a flea scurrying through their fur, or you feel a tick buried deep in their fur. It’s a quick reminder that prescription flea and tick pet treatments aren’t just something to think about in the spring. Most flea medicine for cats and dogs also treats ticks, and some also take care of chewing lice, mites or mosquitoes. Keeping your pet on vet-recommended flea medication can help you avoid ending up with a pet who is scratching themselves mercilessly and feeling miserable. And it also means that you won’t have an impromptu meeting with fleas and ticks on dogs and cats. These flea treatments can be prescribed by your veterinarian, who can work with you to determine whether your pet would do better with a topical treatment or a chewable tablet. You can even order and refill these flea medications online through a pet pharmacy.
2. Preventing Heartworm Disease
Aside from the parasites that you can actually see, there’s another threat that can actually live inside your pet’s heart and lungs. They’re appropriately named heartworms, and without proper heartworm prevention, they could multiply and cause a serious problem for your pets. Whenever you welcome a new pet to your home, check with the shelter that they have been treated for heartworms, and talk to your vet about ongoing heartworm treatment. For dogs, prescription heartworm pet treatments are available in a chewable tablet or a topical solution, and some even protect against fleas and ticks, too. Heartworm medicines for cats come in a topical form that usually also help control fleas, roundworms, hookworms and ear mites.
3. Treating Issues With the Stomach and Digestion
An upset stomach could also lead to a trip to the vet’s office. Your vet can determine the cause of the problem, and may prescribe pet medications, depending on the diagnosis. If your pup has acute pancreatitis from scarfing up some fast food on his walk, veterinary medicines can be prescribed to help. Other reasons for needing prescription pet gastrointestinal support include reflux disease, stomach ulcers, stomach inflammation, vomiting caused by an underlying issue, and other gastrointestinal disorders.
4. Relieving Itchy Skin and Controlling Pet Allergies
Pets can suffer from seasonal allergies, food allergies, flea allergies and skin allergies—all of which can lead to plenty of unpleasant symptoms. You might see your pet scratching or gnawing on their skin relentlessly, which can leave sores and bald spots. Other symptoms of pet allergies include skin rashes and inflammation or sneezing and watery eyes. Cat allergies and dog allergies can be managed with specially formulated allergy medicine for dogs or cats. Prescription pet allergy relief comes in many forms, including capsules, tablets and liquids. By consulting your veterinarian, you can find the best type for your pet’s symptoms, and one that you can easily administer.
5. Reducing Hip and Joint Pain and Inflammation
If you’ve noticed that your pet isn’t getting around as well as they used to, or has trouble jumping up on things when they didn’t before, arthritis could be the cause. It’s definitely worth checking with your vet to see if these are symptoms of arthritis in dogs or cats. If it does turn out to be the case, you can manage this chronic condition with prescription pain and arthritis pet treatments such as an anti-inflammatory for dogs or cats. These pet medications can help relieve hip and joint pain on a long-term basis. A vet might prescribe NSAIDS for dogs or cats, which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that work by decreasing inflammation and pain. They can be used to manage osteoarthritis and the joint stiffness caused by this disease.
6. Providing Long-Term Support for Chronic Diseases and Illnesses
As our pets get older, they can develop a range of chronic health conditions. But many of these diseases and illnesses can be managed under a vet’s care. Thyroid and hormone pet medications can be prescribed for cat hyperthyroidism (an overproduction of thyroid hormones) or for hypothyroidism in dogs and cats (lowered production of thyroid hormones). Veterinary medicines for seizure and epilepsy work in a number of ways to help prevent pets from having episodes. Vet-recommended dog food and prescription cat food can even help manage common conditions like pancreatitis in dogs, kidney disease in cats, dog skin allergies, and dog or cat diabetes.
7. Clearing Up Ear and Eye Infections
Some pets are plagued by recurring ear or eye infections that could be caused by things like allergies, tear duct issues or breed disposition. Prescription pet antibiotics and anti-fungal veterinary medicines are available that can treat these infections, whether they are chronic or acute. Ear and eye care treatments for pets help clear up the cause of the infection by killing bacteria, yeast and fungi. Once the infection starts to go away, your pet can feel relief from itchy and inflamed eyes or ears. Prescription pet medication for ear infections comes in a liquid form, and in drops or an ointment for treating eye conditions like conjunctivitis and pink eye.
No matter what brought you and your four-legged friend to the vet, there are many common pet health issues that can be treated, managed or remedied with the right prescription pet medication.
Nikki Naser, Pet Central Senior Editor
Instead of owning 30 cats, Nikki has an impressive collection of 30 cat-themed T-shirts, and just 4 pets—a ginger-haired senior cat, a senior Maine Coon, a middle-aged Choodle, and a young kitty who showed up one day on the back steps. A former Orlando resident, Nikki worked on several tourism publications before moving to South Beach. When she’s not stopping to take pics of community cats to post on Instagram, Nikki spends her time with the office pets at Chewy, writing for their Pet Central blog.