One of the hardest things our nurses have to explain is why we need to see a pet in order to continue a prescribed medicine. At times this can cause ill feeling and suggestions of over servicing, though nothing could be further from the truth.
We hope the information below helps explain why at times our nurses will require a vet to check your pet before further drugs are supplied.
It is very important that any animal receiving prescription drugs be properly monitored. This usually means we will need to see your pet at least every 6 months, but possibly even more frequently depending on the treatment being used. Although these visits can be inconvenient, they are vital for several reasons:
1. Your animal has a disease which needs to be controlled properly. To do this we have to assess the dose and frequency of the medication over time, and adjust the dose depending on the response. Often the dose will change depending on monitoring, mostly via specific blood tests but also via other tests such as schirmer tear tests for ‘dry eye’ etc.
2. All prescription drugs have some side-effects. We need to examine your pet regularly for any early signs of problems with the drugs being used, so that we can reduce the dose or change the medication if this happens. For example, prednisolone can cause significant skin and body shape change, weight gain, infections or diabetes if poorly monitored. Arthritis drugs can cause liver damage or gastrointestinal ulcers; heart medications can cause kidney damage.
3. Your pet’s disease is likely to change over time and require new treatments in addition to that already being given. Also, especially in older patients, new diseases may appear which can be detected and treated early in their course, and which may be worsened by the existing medication. Six months is a long time for a pet and a lot can change.
4. It is a legal requirement that S4 (prescription only) drugs are only given to animals “under our care”. The generally accepted interpretation of this law is that we need to see the animal as often as is necessary to be satisfied that the disease is well controlled without harmful effects, and that we are not giving out important drugs except where necessary.
5. Most drugs are given on a mg/kg body weight basis. Accurate weighing is necessary to make sure the dose is within the safe and effective therapeutic range.
We hope this information helps you understand why prescription checks are important. Generally, these checks will be requested if it has been 6 months since the last visit, but sometimes it may have to be sooner depending on the particular disease and the drugs being used.
What to do when you need more medication
When you see that you are running low on remaining doses, call the clinic and ask for more medication for your pet we require 24 hours notice to dispense medications. The nurse will check your file at the time of the phone call and advise you if a prescription check is due. If so, the vet appointment can be made at the time. If you choose to drop in for medications we will require the vet to sign off the prescription, even if it is within the 6-month period. Therefore, there is usually a wait to do so until the vet is free, and you may leave empty-handed if a check is due.
If you have been advised in the past that your pet’s medication is unusual, it would be better to call us with one week’s notice in case the drug is not routinely stocked at our suppliers.
We apologise that we will not be able to supply prescription medications if it has been more than 6 months since a vet visit. This visit can be for anything as long as a physical examination was performed, including vaccinations and minor illnesses. In cases of family emergency, we may be able to offer a small emergency supply of approximately one week’s duration.