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Dog Medications - Everything You Need To Know About Dog Medication

What are some commonly used medications for my dog, and when would the veterinarian recommend them?


Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections.

Dr. Jennifer Bochnowski
Lowell Animal Hospital


That would be any medication for either intestinal or internal parasites like heartworms, as well as external parasites like fleas, ticks, lice, and mange.


Antifungals are used for fungal or yeast infections.

Behavior-modifying sedative medications?

We tend to see the need for mild sedatives, especially around the 4th of July and during summer thunderstorms. There are a lot of dogs out there that are very fearful of very loud noises, so we'll use it for situational things. There are occasional cases where we'll need to use daily behavior-modifying medications for dogs with extreme anxiety.

Pain relievers, opioids, and NSAIDs?

We tend to use pain medication for postoperative pain relief, arthritis, which is very common in dogs, broken bones, and other things. We'll use those medications or a combination of anti-inflammatories with opioids.


Steroids are typically used for inflammatory purposes. Sometimes, at very high doses, we can also use it to weaken the immune system. We'll use those with a wider variety of things, from allergic reactions to inflammatory bowel disease and certain types of cancers.

What are some of the side effects and adverse reactions my dog could experience with these medications?

Each medication tends to have things that are very commonly noted regarding adverse effects. With antibiotics, for example, we see GI side effects, like inappetence, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some drugs have sedative effects. Each medication class has certain types of side effects that are most common. It's best to talk to your veterinarian when a drug is prescribed to your pet to see what those side effects would be.

What do I need to know about drug interactions?

You want to make sure that your veterinarian knows what medications your pet is currently on if you're seeing them for the first time, for example, or if the medication was prescribed by another veterinarian so that they're aware of what medications your pet is currently on. That way, they can most accurately ensure that the drugs they're prescribing will be safe to give with what your pet's already on.

Can my dog be on medication long-term?

Yes, there are many medications and many conditions for which we have pets on long-term medication. In most cases, we want to make sure that the medication isn't causing long-term effects on the liver and kidneys. That's where frequent blood work and screening come into effect. Usually, we'll want to check liver and kidney function every six to 12 months, and, depending on the drug, we may need to track the blood level of that medication in your pet system, either. For example, we check a level of phenobarbital. We check for thyroid conditions to ensure that the thyroid is in the right range with those medications.

Why is it important not to give my dog medications without speaking to the veterinarian first?

It's very important to talk to your veterinarian about giving any kind of medication to your dog. Certainly, don't give any over-the-counter medication or medications that were prescribed for a different pet to your dog. We might be looking at drug interactions, things that are toxic to dogs that you wouldn't know, and anything along those lines. Again, just make sure you talk to your veterinarian first.

What tricks can I use to give my dog medications?

Typically, with dogs, we're talking about hiding medications in a treat of some sort, whether that's a little bit of peanut butter or bread or some canned food. If your dog is really difficult to give medication to, even when you hide it, you can talk to your veterinarian about potentially getting medication compounded into a liquid or made into a flavored chew tablet so that your dog will take it more readily.

Where should I get my dog's medications refilled?

You definitely want to get your pet's medications refilled through the veterinarian that initially prescribed them.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (219) 247-0555, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

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