Transdermal Medications and Compounding

Feb 1, 2019   Tracey Aston   Health & Wellness

When our pets are sick, we want them to feel better as quickly as possible. When a pet has difficulty taking pill medication, the pet parent can begin to worry how they are going to get the medication into their pet without stressing both of them out. Most veterinarians are familiar with compounding medications, if you are having difficulty medicating your pet, the veterinarian will work with the pharmacy for compounding alternatives. Thankfully, there are alternatives to oral, pill-form medication, such as, liquid, transdermal and medications made into treat form.

Most pet parents know that some prescription medications for our pets can be filled at local pharmacies who work hand in hand with veterinarians, but many don't know that transdermal medications and liquids can be purchased locally, as well. Transdermal medication for pets is most often made into a lotion, gel or cream that can be applied in set doses to the skin, for pets, normally inside the ear.  The reason transdermal medications are applied to the inside of the ear is it's a great vascular network and pets can't lick or rub the medication off.

The gel, lotion or cream permeates the skin and allows the medication to enter the bloodstream.  Humans have benefited from medication given in transdermal form for decades, most often used in patch form. Some examples of human grade transdermal medications are anti-nausea patches in cancer patients and as pain patches.  The Medicine Shoppe in Oakmont offers transdermal medication in a silicone tipped pen for accurate dosage and ease of use and typically will be able to fill the prescription in around an hour.  Transdermal medications are absorbed through the skin, and therefore, the person administering the medication must wear gloves to make sure they aren't getting the medications on their hands. By using the silicone tipped pen, the risk to the caregiver is greatly lowered, making it a safer alternative. The medication does absorb quickly and has a very low touch contamination risk after only minutes.

Some veterinarians won't prescribe transdermal medications, often advising they're not as effective as oral medications. To get another point of view, I spoke with Head Compounding Specialist Scott Wolfe of The Medicine Shoppe in Oakmont about the benefits of transdermal medications to pets.  If a pet is experiencing extreme nausea and can't keep a pill or liquid down long enough, a transdermal medication can be made with anti-nausea medication to allow the pet to eat. Some medications are given in powder form to be added to the food but if the pet isn't eating, they won't get the medication. Or, if they only eat a partial amount of food or vomit the food, there is no way to know how much medication, if any at all, the pet was able to receive. Even if a pet has an appetite, our pets live by their noses and will often be put off by the smell or taste of a powdered medication. If a pet is ill, one of the worst possible things to do is make them more stressed, and trying to push a pill down their throat stressed them.  A stressed pet will take longer to heal and could actually injure themselves or the pet parent trying to give them a pill. Transdermal medications are also an alternative for feral cats or cats that put up a fight when trying to take a pill. The medication is simply applied into the inside of the ear. Mr. Wolfe did advise that if a transdermal medication is made commercially, they will not be able to make the prescription.

At the request of the caregiver, The Medicine Shoppe will work with your veterinarian to compound medications into flavored liquids or treats at their location. If the pet loves a certain treat or food, The Medicine Shoppe will mix the medications and proper dosages into something a pet will find more appetizing. They can also compound the medication into a dog palatable flavor that can then be squirted into the mouth with a syringe. However, as stated above, this will only work if the pet is eating, has an appetite and is not vomiting.

When time counts having a local pharmacy that will work with the veterinarian, caregiver and patients' needs within an hour is critical to getting a pet feeling better fast. Thankfully, pet parents have other options to traditional oral medication that can make the process stress free or at least, less overwhelming for all involved. Transdermal offers no stress, no risk of a pet spitting out a stealthy hidden pill and can be used to ease a vomiting pet so they can take their medications and regain their health by eating a proper diet. 

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