I was consulting with a lady whose vet had given her dog an injection of ProHeart 12. This is an injectable parasiticide for preventing heartworms. Shortly after the injection was given, the dog started having nervous ticks and twitching and later developed grand-mal seizures.
I did a little research on the drug and found that it had a FastLink approval of the FDA, meaning that it has not had enough clinical research to grant its final approval. What it really means is that Zoetis, the manufacturer has enough political power to get this temporary approval and allow the vets in private practice to do their field research at the expense of the pet and caretaker.
It appears that potential side effects included seizures and that the FDA requires that veterinarians have to go over the details of the drug, including the potential side effects and that the drug has not had final approval of the FDA. This lady was told nothing by the vet.
These types of injections are called “depo” injections, meaning that they are sustained released so that they stay in the body prolonged periods. In this case, the drug stays in the body for at least 12 months. Once it is in the body, little can be done to remove it, so if a dog has an adverse reaction to a depo injection, it more or less has to deal with it until the drug is gone. Ouch.
There are many injectable drugs that fall under this definition and few are discussed by the vet with the client. Steroid injections are a good example. Prednisone when injected stays in the body for about 8 hours. Triamcinolone, a popular drug for allergies, stays in the body for about 3 weeks and Depo-Medrol another steroid used for allergies stays in the body for at least 6 weeks. The vet uses is to alleviate the symptoms over those periods, but they don’t take into considerations that the side effects will as well. Depo-Medrol is notorious for causing diabetes in cats after one injection.
Long-acting antibiotics are another example. They are used particularly in cats so that the caretaker doesn’t have to give oral antibiotics twice a day. Flea and tick products are the same even though many of them are applied topically. Imagine applying a topical insecticide on a pet that will be in the body for 30 days and then the pet having a horrible reaction to it? It can’t even be washed off.
Any drug that is given to the pet, whether it is injectable, oral or topical, should be thoroughly researched by the pet caretaker and explained by the veterinarian all considerations including side effects. Don’t let the vet give an injection without you knowing how long it will be in the body and the potential side effects. Once it goes into the pet, it cannot be removed until the body does it itself, which is the same body that is reacting deleterious to the drug in the first place.
If drugs have to be given, always insist that the shortest acting drug be given so that if a reaction or side effect occurs, it will not be in the body for prolonged periods. For too many years, we have allowed vets, under the direction of the pharmaceutical industry, to give drugs without careful consideration, often without even knowing the specifics of the drug. Example: Thimerosal, the preservative in most rabies vaccine, which contains 46% mercury, I would guess that 90% of the vets in the country are unaware of this and will not become aware of it unless the pet caretakers are the source of their information. It certainly will not come from the vaccine manufacturer.
Empower yourself to be the ambassador for your pet’s health when it comes to making any and all decisions for your pet. The author Edward Abbey said, “Question authority.” This is a pretty good mantra to live by in regards to our pet’s health and well being.