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The 3 Most Common Dog Meds

NSAIDs, Antibiotics, and Thyroid Drugs

By Lauren Leonardi. November 03, 2013 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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A Large Variety Of Pet Medications

If you're caring for a sick dog, you'll likely be prescribed one of these medications. Here are the most common dog meds on the market that take care of a broad range of illnesses.

Most pet parents will, at some point, have to deal with a sick pet. Some ailments are more common and easier to treat than others. Learn about the three most common types of dog meds, so you can know what you’re dealing with if your pet ever needs medical care.

NSAIDs | Previcox, Rimadyl, and Others

  • The acronym NSAID (pronounced N-said) stands for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug.
  • These drugs are commonly used to treat orthopedic pain caused by inflammation -- specifically associated with arthritis, osteoarthritis, and postoperative.
  • NSAIDs work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals in the body that cause inflammation.
  • NSAIDs are commonly administered at home as an oral tablet, with instructions from a veterinarian.

  • PROs: NSAIDs are an effective, convenient, and low cost treatment for pain associated with inflammation.
  • CONs: These drugs do come with side effects. Liver and kidney failure are two of the most serious side effects of NSAID use. Dogs who suffer from existing heart, kidney, or liver disease are at greater risk. Stomach ulcers may also occur -- blood in your dog’s stool could be an indication that these medications are causing problems. Less serious, but more immediately evident side effects include vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. If these side effects are observed, stop the drugs immediately and let your vet know.
  • These drugs are not recommended (and should rarely be necessary) for puppies under 6-8 weeks of age.

Antibiotics | Cephalexin, Augmentin, Clavamox

Clavamox and Augmentin are broad-spectrum antibiotics, meaning they’re used to address several types of microorganisms at once.

  • Clavamox and Augmentin are brand name drugs that are a combination of two types of antibiotics: amoxicillin and clavulanate.
  • Amoxicillin and clavulanate (or clavulanic acid) are two drugs that work together to treat infections that either drug alone would not resolve.
  • Amoxicillin is a synthetic version of penicillin, formulated to be better absorbed into the body for greater efficacy.
  • These antibiotics are most commonly prescribed to treat infections due to wounds, abscesses, infections of the bone or mouth, upper respiratory infections, and bladder infections.
  • Both Clavamox and Augmentin are often administered in capsules at home. They may also be administered as a liquid suspension.
  • If your pet has ever had a negative reaction to penicillin, your vet may not want your dog to take Clavamox or Augmentin.

Cephalexin is also a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

  • It’s commonly used to treat bacterial infections, including skin infections and bladder infections.
  • This class of antibiotics (cephalosporins) works in much the same way as the above antibiotics -- by preventing bacteria from developing their own protective barriers. Without the ability to defend itself, the bacteria dies.
  • Cephalexin is administered in capsules or as a liquid suspension.
  • This drug is not effective against infections caused by viruses, worms, or any type of fungus.
  • Side effects may include shortness of breath, hives, rash, unusual bleeding, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Hypothyroid Drugs | Levothyroxine and Others

When a dog’s body is not producing enough of its own thyroid hormone, and the dog becomes hypothyroid, a thyroxine replacement drug may be necessary.

  • Levothyroxine is the generic form of canine synthetic thyroid hormone.
  • It’s administered to dogs daily, for the rest of the dog’s life, to supplement the levels of thyroid hormone they need to maintain a healthy metabolic rate.
  • The drug comes in different levels of concentration, as each dog will require different levels of the drug. Dogs on Levothyroxine should have regular blood tests to ensure that their doses are at the right level.
  • Overdosing can cause a dog to become hyperthyroid, which is a condition that’s much harder to correct, and the side effects can be devastating.

We all know how scary it can be to have a sick dog on your hands, but knowing what you can expect helps take some of the mystery out of the equation.

What to save even more on your dog’s medications?

Take a look at how our pet benefits plan, PetPlus, can help you save up to 75% on medications.

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7 of the Top Dog Cystitis Treatments

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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