Specific instructions for dispensed medications will be provided by your veterinary health care team. Here we provide some general guidelines for safe handling of medications.
It is important to remember that if you notice any unusual symptoms while your cat is on prescription medication, you should call the vet hospital promptly. In certain cats, medications can lead to adverse reactions. Most of these are mild and self-limiting if medication is discontinued, but some reactions can be serious so consult your veterinarian if you notice anything unusual. Hives, swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, loss of balance, or any other unusual sign should be reported right away!
Medications should be stored out of reach of other pets and all family members. Do not assume that puppy cannot chew through a plastic vial or bottle, so keep them up out of reach off of tables and locked away. If the medication is dispensed in a vial with a similar appearance to Granny’s heart pills, and stored in the medicine cabinet right next to hers, you can imagine that mistakes could occur!
Keep all pet medicines and equipment in a separate room from your own first aid and medicine chest.
Unless your vet asks you to crush a pill to administer it, do not do this since many pills are exceptionally bitter when broken open.
Likewise, if you have been given a measuring aid to help determine the correct dose, don’t use a teaspoon from the drawer instead of the dispensed syringe since there is considerable variation in how much a home teaspoon or tablespoon will hold, and some medications require precise measurement in order to minimize the chance of side effects.
It is important not to use human or doggie drugs for cats without consulting your veterinarian. Some dog flea products are deadly in cats, and many of the common over-the-counter human painkillers (e.g., inbuprofen) are also toxic! Cats have important differences in certain liver enzyme drug processing systems that make them susceptible to toxicity so it is important not to take chances!
If you don’t finish all the prescription, return the leftover pills or other preparation to the practice for disposal, and remember, don’t stop giving the medications just because kitty looks like she is feeling better. Some medications can cause problems if they are suddenly stopped, and not tapered according to prescription label!
Likewise, if she is not improving the way you hoped, never double dose—twice as much is not twice as effective. Mark when medication is given on your calendar, so double dosing or missed doses cannot occur.
Careful attention to the instructions is very important to kitty’s wellbeing so if you leave the vet hospital and are left with questions about how or when a drug should be given, call the staff back to double check on the details!