Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cat Medications, Measuring and Dispensing

Myrna's three medications-lasix, spironolactone, and atenolol-were prescribed by her cardiologist and originally ordered through an online pet pharmacy Pet Health Pharmacy.  It was set up to automatically send the scripts as we needed them and bill the credit card on file.  Seemed easy and simple. The only problem was that for what she needed, they only had liquid versions which she could not use on a repeated basis because this required the use of a plastic syringe tube to dispense the meds into her mouth.  And she was allergic to plastic which is how she first became sick and why this cardiac disease was discovered.  So, we had to get new scripts for tablets and cancel the online order.  However, the site is easy to use and the people are friendly so I would recommend them.

So, we began using tablets and cutting them daily with a knife and storing the cut meds in small plastic containers.  And we got her meds through Walgreens and spent more money than expected the first month for two of her meds.  Walgreens is very expensive and whatever discount program they had could not beat what would turn out to be a money saver and very convenient indeed-Kroger pharmacy-which has a $4.00 generic program.  Voila!  Easy and convenient because I shop there; money saver because it would only cost $8.00 a month for two of her meds.  They did not, however carry the lasix in 12 mg tablets and we had to continue to buy it from her vet for $12.00 a month for fifteen tabs.  But the lasix the vet carried or maybe however they stored it, crumbled when cut and we lost about a 1/4 tab whenever it was cut.

Ben came up with the idea to buy what people buy to store their daily meds.  He bought small plastic pill holders that are divided into two.  Then we bought a pill cutter for more accurate cutting.  Then I bought a plastic storage tray for the counter to hold all of the meds, the cutter, and the pill holders.  Later, I would add a tray to the frig to hold the meds that are refrigerated such as laxatone (for hairballs), lysine paste, and vitamin paste.  Then another tray would be added on the counter for Myrna's COQ10 that would later be added to her diet.

Easy, organized, and convenient. Now we had to dispense them and get Myrna to actually take them.  Getting her to sit still was never a problem.  Collecting Myrna to take her pills can be a problem. She knows what we want and she knows when to run and hide.  If there was an Olympic medal given for best spit-out of meds, it would go to Myrna. We would have her sit on the counter, hold her head, gently pry open mouth with fingers, and shove pill down mouth.  Nimble of tongue, suddenly the pill would fly out of her mouth and onto the counter.  Or she would pretend to swallow only to spit the pill out at her food bowl.  Because she cannot use a plastic syringe, we used a glass eye dropper with a bent tip to dispense water into her mouth, forcing her to swallow the water and the pill with it.  But this took quick coordination or the pill would be out before the water could go in.  Eventually, we found that if we rolled the pill in the liquid of her wet food or in tuna juice, it was more palatable for her to swallow.  We still used water as a follow-up until after a few months, the process became easier so that water is used only as a last resort.

We dispense pills by getting her to sit, holding her head still and leaning it back a bit, taking the cut pill, rolling it in the food juice, and holding it between our fingers, use those fingers to pry open her mouth by applying pressure to the side of her mouth gently until she opens her mouth.  Then we drop the pill into the mouth by sliding it against the roof of her mouth.  Then we quickly close her mouth, rub her neck which is suppose to make them swallow, and quickly proceed to the next pill.  This process is easy enough but every once in awhile Myrna bites down hard on my finger and draws blood.  I think of it as her little way of getting back at me for having my finger in her mouth where she believes it doesn't belong.

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