For the love of dogs (and our other furred, feathered or scaled friends)

Compounding pharmacies can customize medications purrfectly for animals

The year was 2010, I had just moved out west to Arizona from Indiana, a newly licensed pharmacist working at a big retail pharmacy chain. A man walked up to the counter and presented a Fluconazole prescription for his dog, Buddy.  

The author and her dog, Bo.

Fluconazole is a common medication used to treat canines for valley fever (coccidioidomycosis), a disease prevalent in southwestern states where the fungus is known to live in the soil.1 At the time, I didn’t have any background or extra training in veterinary medicine. (Even though I was fresh out of pharmacy school, veterinary medicine was not part of our common core learning.)   

I quickly realized that I needed to refer this customer to a local compounding pharmacy, as the appropriate, Buddy-specific dose was not achievable with the “one size fits all” human manufactured tablets we carried at the retail pharmacy. The compounding pharmacy that I referred Buddy’s owner to happened to be a veterinary compounding pharmacy, which specialized in making Fluconazole tablets, capsules, flavored liquid, and chews in many strengths and sizes for dogs.2

Why you should consider using a compounding pharmacy for your pet’s medications
Unlike human doctors, veterinary professionals work with patients across many species and sizes. Most human medications have moved to “one size fits most” dosing or adult and child dosing options, but this approach often doesn’t work so well in a veterinary setting. 

Given the limited number of medications approved for animal use, veterinarians will look to compounded medications to meet their treatment protocols.

Through compounding, veterinarians can utilize a broader variety of strengths to treat all sizes of animals, ease the burden of medicating using multiple delivery methods, and increase compliance by adding flavoring to medications. Compounding can also fill the gap when a commercially manufactured medication goes on back order.

To add to the complexity, there are several medications that retail chains or pharmacies do not source or carry. You’ve probably never heard of Trilostane for Cushing’s disease, Pimobendan for heart disease, or Idoxuridine ophthalmic drops for viral infections. Certain medications may need to be sourced not only from a compounding pharmacy, but one that specializes in veterinary medications.  

Getting my dog to take his meds is ruff. Can a compounding pharmacy help with that?
Absolutely! Using compounded veterinary medication may be beneficial if your pet must take multiple medications daily. A compounding pharmacy can often combine these medications into one capsule or pill, or one liquid dose that you only must administer once or twice daily depending on the regimen. Many times, the pharmacy will make the capsule or tablet in the smallest size possible.

Compounding pharmacies can use flavors like beef, bacon, chicken, liver, fish, marshmallow, fruit flavors, or even cheese flavor to enhance the taste for your companion.  

If your pet has an allergy, compounders can make liquids or capsules with hypoallergenic ingredients.  

If your pets are like mine, they do not take pills easily. One option used most often in feline patients is a topical transdermal gel. One of the most common topical medications used in cats is Methimazole in Lipoderm gel.3 Cats can be finicky creatures! Whether you are a cat, dog, horse, bird, or exotic species pet parent, it is likely you’ll need medication for your best friend at some point in their lives, and unlikely that your local retail chain carries a dose or flavor that is specific to your pet.

By Laura Brown, PharmD, Customer Care Pharmacist Quality Manager, Wedgewood Pharmacy

Proud Pharmacy Member - Alliance for Pharmacy Compounding

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