Regulars and Shorts

Animals Animals: Yum, Tuna-Flavored Meds

By Sunny Branson

Made-to-order prescriptions for your pets (and you, too): Compounding pharmicies offer customized meds, just like in the olden days.
by Sunny Branson
How hard is it to get your iguana to swallow a capsule? Does your cat eat around the pill hidden in its food? Can’t get a dosage small enough for your gerbil? Giving medicine to pets can be challenging – whether the animal has special needs or is just a difficult patient. Compounding deals with the unique problems with medicating pets.

Compounding is the art and science of preparing customized medications. Until the 1960s, manufacturers provided only bottles, capsules and tablets to pharmacies. It was up to the pharmacist to weigh up the necessary herbs or medicines from scratch for patients’ prescriptions. Some pharmacies, such as University Pharmacy and Jolley’s Pharmacy, both in Salt Lake City, have brought back these old-fashioned principles to better serve their customers.

“We are here to solve medicine dispensing problems for humans and their animal companions,” said Dean Jolley, owner of Jolley’s Compounding Pharmacy, which has offered veterinary compounding since 1982. “We have creative ways to find what’s needed to solve most prescription challenges.”

Compounding pharmacists provide customized care with accurate dosage, preferred flavor, and size-appropriate medication solutions. All compounding for animals requires a prescription from a veterinarian. By working closely with your veterinarian, a compounding pharmacist can create solutions for giving medicine to your pet more easily, whether your pet is a cat, dog, ferret, bird or snake. If you’ve already filled your prescription, but are having trouble getting your pet to take the meds, compounding can help by providing it in another form.

Species-specific flavors

Animals appreciate flavors as much as humans do. Your cat may like his medicine with the tuna or chicken-liver flavor or your dog might enjoy the lamb or veal flavors. Flavors like alfalfa or apples and caramel are palatable to horses and other farm animals. On the exotic animal front, a guinea pig might like the green bean flavor or perhaps orange, but your parrot might prefer tutti frutti. If your pet’s favorite flavor isn’t on the menu, place a special request—the compounding pharmacy may be able to fulfill it. 

Discontinued medicine

When you find a medication that works for your pet, you don’t want to change it. When manufacturers discontinue a medication, compounding can help. The pharmacist can often prepare a prescription for the discontinued product.

Dispensing method

What works for some animals just doesn’t work for others. For the dog who refuses to take a pill, there are topical creams, ointments, and lotions that you simply rub on the belly or behind the ears where the medication can be absorbed into the bloodstream. There are chewable medicated treats so your canine thinks he’s just eating a tasty biscuit. Other compounding options include otic solutions (a liquid preparation of soluble chemical substances usually dissolved in water) and non-aqueous suspensions, sugar-free formulations, ophthalmic preparations, sterile injections, and rectal suppositories.

The right size

Some animal medicines are available in only one tablet size, making it difficult for smaller animals to swallow. The pharmacist can compound the medication into a smaller form, or concentrate a medication for larger animals. With compounding, your pet gets an amount exactly right for its size and condition.

Combining meds

In cases where your pet may require more than one medication, a compounding pharmacist can work with the veterinarian to combine more than one drug into a single dosage. Fewer medicating sessions mean less stress for the animal and less effort for the pet owner.

Medicating your animal companion doesn’t have to be challenging. Compounding may make life easier on you and your furry, feathery or scaly critter.  u

Sunny Branson volunteers for Wasatch Animal Rescue, and sponsors two pot-bellied pigs at Ching Farm Sanctuary

For more information:

Jolley’s Compounding Pharmacy; 1702 So. 1100 E., SLC: (801) 486-1528

University Pharmacy; 1320 E. 2nd So., SLC: 801-582-7624

This article was originally published on August 1, 2008.