As many of you know, Eli, my best friend and the mascot here at In Brief Legal Writing Services, had a couple of health scares last year. In fact, it was roughly a year ago this week that he had surgery to remove a small (and thank goodness relatively benign) growth on his back.
With that being stated, I am happy (and relieved) to report that Eli’s most recent vet visit (for his annual checkup and shots) resulted in a clean bill of health. You see, I love him more than life. And even though he’s 11 and I know he won’t live forever, the thought of him getting really sick scares me to death.
And frankly so does this.
According to a recent CNN report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has announced that certain skin cancer creams that prevent or fight the disease in people can be lethal for our pets. Specifically, the FDA is warning the public about creams that contain fluorouracil or 5-FU. Common brand names are Carac, Efudex and Fluoroplex.
The FDA issued the warning after learning about five cases in which animals died after swallowing the cream.
“In one case, a playful dog punctured a tube of fluorouracil cream. Within two hours, the animal began vomiting, experienced seizures and died 12 hours later,” CNN reports. “In another case, a dog ingested a tube of the cream. Though the owner rushed the dog to a veterinarian, who immediately began to treat the animal, the dog’s condition worsened and after three days, the owner deemed it necessary to euthanize the pet.”
Because even a small amount can be deadly, experts are advising pet owners to store the cream in a place where their animals can’t get at it, and to discard it properly when it’s no longer needed.
Additional precautions are warranted. Specifically, the FDA recommends “patients safely discard or clean any cloths or applicators used when applying the cream.” The agency stresses that “it’s also important to make sure clothes, carpets, floors and furniture contain no creamy residue. Hands must also be cleaned after using the cream.”
Most importantly, experts urge pet owners who must use cream containing fluorouracil to avoid contact with their pets after they’ve applied the medicine. This is especially crucial for dog owners, whose animals are likely to lick the areas where the cream is typically applied.
“Immediately consult a veterinarian if a pet becomes exposed to the medicine or begins to vomit, have seizures or show other signs of illness,” the FDA warned.
Just when I thought I’d heard (and seen) it all, this is a new low.
According to published reports, veterinarians in upstate New York are voicing alarm about cases in which pet owners deliberately hurt their animals in order to get painkillers.
“There’s unfortunately always the risk of abuse with any of these medications, and it’s a sad reality we have to be aware of,” veterinarian Lexi Becker told an NBC TV affiliate.
When it comes to Tramadol, Becker definitely has cause for concern. Although it is generally used to treat discomfort in dogs and cats suffering from arthritis, it also appeals to people with certain proclivities. Because it’s cheaper than Oxycodone, some addicts will stop at nothing in order to get their hands on it.
As a result, New York State lawmakers have created strict rules with regards to prescriptions.
“There’s a new regulation that came out in January of this year for New York State that basically restricts how long you can prescribe it initially, so there’s only a seven-day course that you can initially prescribe,” Becker said.
Veterinarians also take certain precautions when prescribing Tramadol, Becker told News 10.
“We are very, very strict about following the rules as to how quickly they can have a refill,” she said. “We will only give certain amounts of refills. We’ll only give how much the patient should be receiving.
Concern about Tramadol abuse are hardly limited to New York, however.
As the New York Post reports, Oregon authorities “seized 100,000 tramadol pills and rescued 17 dogs living in conditions so squalid, there were dead rats in their drinking water” in a raid outside Portland in 2016.
Police also made four arrests in the case. While the suspects “claimed to be breeding AKC-registered puppies,” police believe they were actually “running a thinly disguised opioid distribution ring.”
If so, it may well be the largest operation of its kind involving dogs, ThePost reports.
Smaller cases are just as disturbing — if not more so. For example, the suspect in a Kentucky case was arrested and charged with “using a disposable razor to slice open the leg of her 4-year-old retriever on two separate occasions to get her hands on tramadol,” ThePost reports.
Chad Bailey, the veterinarian who initially treated the suspect’s dog, said he had a gut feeling something was amiss when the owner quickly requested a refill.
“What’s scary is it took me two times to pick up on what was happening,” Bailey told The Post. “It worries me about the instances we miss.”