Many times veterinarians assume a case of diarrhea, an itchy ear or two, a hot spot, or a rash and hives is due to some infectious agent. I used to feel that way too. These days I spend a lot of time going over recent changes in food or medication to make sure that recent food or medication changes aren’t causing itching, pain, nausea, or the runs.
Treats and chews are the first thing we talk about. Recent changes in commercial treats(wheaty biscuits) , chews (steer penises, beef skin , pig ears, wheaty pill pockets, and dyed wheat gluten dental biscuits) can cause diarrhea, gas(farting), anal gland pain and infection, itchy red ears, hives, and swollen faces and lips. Don’t always expect your vet to link symptoms with treats. Vets aren’t taught this in school. Our education is more geared to worms, giardia, and bacterial infection(food poisoning from eating garbage) and flea allergy dermatitis. The more I ask about treats and chews, the more I find I can help problems from happening again and again.
Recent applications of topical flea control can make a pet feel “under the weather” or can result in an itchy spot, hotspot, flaky spot, or hives in the area or elsewhere. If your pet “breaks out” monthly or is nauseous or has diarrhea after flea control, change the type(oral, topical) or ingredient. Many brands can have the same ingredient. For example, the ingredient in Frontline, fipronil, is now being sold under many different names and packaging. Oral flea medication can give some pets indigestion, nausea, or cause hives. Remember…each pet is an individual and medications may affect them differently. Just like in their 2 legged friends, any medication may not sit well with them! ( I’ve found that feeding more oils in the diet helps pets fight off fleas. Check out Dog Dish Diet and Feed your Pet to Avoid the Vet.)
Medications such as NSAIDs for pain can cause vomiting, diarrhea, internal bleeding, or organ problems (liver, kidney,stomach). For example, my dog Tucker had a surgery and 2 days later became sick to his stomach and vomited several times after eating. He was taking antibiotics along with an NSAID, but as a precaution, I stopped giving him the NSAID (Previcox). He felt better right away. I elected to give him Tramadol for the pain instead of the NSAID…just in case he was sensitive to it. I couldn’t bear it if a medication I gave him for pain, harmed him!
If a pet feels sick after taking medication, always question the NSAID first, then the antibiotic, or other medication. Never give aspirin or prednisone along with a prescribed NSAID. Combinations of NSAIDS and steroids can be dangerous. Combos of NSAIDS and steroids like prednisone or dexamethasone increases the likelihood of side effects. The literature suggests very stressful surgeries may also lead to increased side effects when NSAIDS are used I am always careful with my dosages of NSAIDS with stressed or older animals.
A dog or cat can vomit, develop diarrhea, or not feel well after receiving other drugs like clavamox, doxycycline, enrofloxacin, or cephalexin antibiotics, ketoconazole for yeast infections, heart drugs, or cyclosporine for allergies.(To name the most common ones) If mild, the nausea or soft stool may pass, but trying another medication or lowering the dose may help. Giving medication with a food or treat may help reduce symptoms. Putting the pills in a small amount of food, a piece of a chicken or turkey hot dog, piece of cheese, slice of deli meat, or spoon of peanut butter may help. To help with mild nausea, you can use pepcid AC, 10mg once daily. ( Check out Dr Greg’s 11 Practical Home Remedies for others!)
Prednisone will cause a pet to drink more water and pee a lot more. Some pets will become ravenously hungry. Others may act “spacy” or subdued. You can always ask your vet if you can reduce the dose and/or use every other day dosing. I’ve found that some pets need much lower doses than those I was taught to give. A German Shepherd really improved when the prednisone dose was dropped from 40 mg to 10mg every other day. That dosage is much lower than the usual prescribed dosage…but it worked! She must have not read the formulary!
As always I’ll finish by advising a really good hypoallergenic commercial food for allergic dogs (fish/potato, rabbit/potato, or venison/potato) or home cooking to find out which ingredients help your pet feel the best. Then you can continue home cooking or mix home cooked food with the commercial food with the right ingredients! If your cat is obese, or to prevent or help with urinary problems, feed canned food or home cooked food. (Feed your Pet to Avoid the Vet has home cooking recipes for cats)
Dog Dish Diet teaches you about ingredients and how to add healthy oils and foods to the right commercial dog food. It also teaches you to cook an easy, simple, inexpensive, slow cooked meal. Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet teaches you how to slow cook for your dog and cat with more recipes.