These products are not considered “drugs” by the FDA and so there is no government agency that oversees their production, packaging or marketing. Most of these products are seen as food additives or supplements and many people think of them as more “natural” than most drugs (see the section below that defines words like “natural.” Examples of Neutraceuticals are glucosamine, milk thistle, omega-3 fatty acid supplements (fish oil), gingko and probiotics.
It is important to note that since there is no body that oversees production and packaging of these products, consumers can be deceived via false label claims. Consumer advocacy groups that test these products often find that the majority of labels are very misleading. It is rare for the label to match what is actually found in the bottle! Quite often product will vary in its strength. For example, a label may state that the bottle contains pills that are 500mg in strength where testing finds that the pills vary in strength from 0mg to 1500mg! Some bottles of probiotics list on their labels bacteria that don’t even exist!
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs
These products are considered drugs and thus are overseen by the FDA. They have been deemed to be safe enough for humans in small amounts to be available without prescription. Just as is true for all drugs, they can interact with other medications and supplements and thus have the potential to be very dangerous. Perhaps more importantly to our pets, drugs behave differently in dogs and cats than they do in people. These products include things like aspirin, Pepcid AC and Pepto Bismol. NEVER USE AN OTC IN YOUR PETS WITHOUT TALKING TO YOUR VETERINARIAN FIRST!
Using OTC drugs without talking to us first is very dangerous. One Tylenol can kill a cat. Advil is particularly toxic to dogs. Pepto Bismol can be helpful to dogs but harmful to cats. Aspirin, even that labeled as “doggie aspirin” has been shown to cause stomach bleeding after just one dose. Most OTC meds will interact with prescription medications your pet is taking. Please don’t let your pets fall victim to these or other preventable issues. Always call us before using any medications.
If we have recommended a non-prescription medication for your pet, be sure to review our handouts on each specific OTC and neutraceutical to help you better determine which products to use.