Should You Use Compounded Pet Medication For Your Furry Friend?

When you need flexibility with administering your pet's medicine, compounded medication can literally be a lifesaver. However, because of a few drawbacks—such as a lack of FDA approval—these drugs are not a good option for every situation, but here are three times when you'd want to use this alternative medicine instead of the standard one.

It's Too Hard to Get Your Pet to Comply

Medication only works when your pet takes it. As many pet owners can attest, though, it's notoriously difficult to get animals to comply, especially if the medication tastes bad or has a strange texture. You can try any number of tricks—such as putting it in food or using special pill covers—but if your pet just isn't having any of that, then compounded medication may be the answer.

With compounded pet medication, a certified professional essentially creates a more usable version of the drug prescribed by your veterinarian. Most of the time, this involves adding flavoring to make the medicine more palatable to pets. Sometimes, though, the compounding pharmacist will recreate the drug in a different form.

For example, if no matter what you do, your dog won't take pills and will become aggressive when you try to force them. The pharmacist can convert the pills into a liquid, which may make it easier for your dog to take (or at least trick them into it).

Before going to a compounding pharmacist, however, check with your veterinarian to ensure there aren't different forms of the medication already. For legal reasons, the pharmacist can't reformulate medicine if the manufacturer already produces something similar, so talk to the vet first and then reach out to a compounding pharmacy if no alternatives exist.

You Have Difficulty Administering the Medication

Sometimes it is not the pet who has trouble taking the medicine, but rather it's the owner who's unable to properly administer the required dose. This is a common issue for older pet owners and people with disabilities that inhibit cognitive and physical function. Compounding pet medication can make dosing your furry friend much easier.

Say you're required to give your pet an injection, but your hands aren't steady or strong enough to manage the syringe. A compounding pharmacist could convert the medication into a topical gel you rub into your pet's skin, for example.

Compounding pharmacists can often customize pet medication in ways that better fit people's abilities and lifestyles, including combining multiple meds into one dose, breaking down dosages into smaller parts, converting meds from one form to another, and changing the medication's strength.

Discuss your issues with the pharmacist. He or she will recommend alternatives that best align with your and your pet's needs.

The Benefits Outweighs the Risks

Although compounded medications are made using FDA-approved pet drugs, the compounds themselves are not approved by the agency. The FDA prefers to leave the regulation of these alternative meds to state governments.

Because compounds have not been evaluated by the FDA, there are no official assurances as to their safety. Thus, you should discuss potential side effects associated with the alternative medicine to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Additionally, you may have to do research on your own to ensure there are no substances in the med that could harm your pet. For instance, the sweetener xylitol is toxic to cats and dogs but some pharmacists use it to sweeten medicine. Make sure the pharmacist knows what type of pet you have and ask for a list of the drug's ingredients so you know what's in it.

For more information about compounded pet medication or to order some, contact a compound pharmacist.