Saturday, April 27, 2024

Orally disintegrating tablets can be a game-changer in administering medication in some pets

Several weeks ago, I highlighted the topic of vestibular disease in dogs after a diagnosis with one of my charges. And while it’s not a life-limiting diagnosis, the accompanying symptoms can most definitely diminish a pet’s overall well-being and ability to cope until it resolves. That takes a goodly amount of patience, environmental management and supportive care to get there. The supportive care part is par for the course with most diagnoses, and how that’s carried out can take a bit of creativity. 

The source of the vestibular issues with the pet referenced previously took a little time to sort out, which isn’t unusual with some diagnoses. And so, symptoms that initially got better for them but then intensified by week’s end found the family back at their primary vet clinic to get things under control. 

After the vet’s assessment of a middle ear infection, they discussed what would be indicated to provide that supportive care that was critical for the pet’s comfort. And as the vet team was getting things in order, the family texted me to help generate any questions they should have for the vet team as a final plan was put together. 

One of the biggest concerns that I had was that the family might not be as prepared as they needed to be going home given that this was all unfolding on a Friday afternoon. And, going headlong into a weekend with a dog who was already assessed to be mildly dehydrated due reduced water intake because of the inability to keep their head up long enough to drink, let alone the nausea they were experiencing, I could easily envision a very complicated situation needlessly unfold. I made some suggestions for the family to run past the vet if they’d not put them in the treatment plan in an effort to avoid any hurdles over the weekend. One concern was top of mind. This dog had been nauseous all week due to the vestibular problems. And while anti-nausea (anti-emetic) medication was sent home earlier in the week in tablet form, I knew that actually administering a capsule or pill correctly, even a tiny one, would be a real challenge for a dizzy, nauseous, dehydrated dog with a decreased appetite and a worried guardian. And so I urged the family to ask about an option that could be used to be equally effective but easier to administer.

Gratefully, the vet consented to the client’s request—anti-nausea medication prescribed as orally disintegrating tablets—to be used as a backup plan should they be needed. 

Though orally disintegrating tablets, or OTDs, aren’t available as an option for every medication, they are for some very critical ones in human medicine and veterinary medicine. And as the name suggests, they are designed to dissolve in the mouth and do not need to be swallowed. That’s a boon for hard to medicate pets—including cats—and as a Certified Animal Hospice Practitioner and Certified Fear Free Professional, I love the option for pets who are receiving chemotherapy or are on hospice. Expect to have medications that have been prescribed as an ODT to be more costly and filled either through a regular pharmacy and some veterinary compounding pharmacies. 

I’m happy to report that the doggo in question made it through that weekend with little issue and has had a smooth recovery, which is the goal. And I enthusiastically encourage each of my families to advocate for themselves and their pets (and I happy do that for them as well) if they’re not feeling confident about being able to be concordant with a treatment or comfort care plan that their vet has put together and tell them that. Most often, vets are happy to figure out a plan b or in this case, make a minor adjustment that made all the difference. The biggest hurdle for families often is actually administering medication, but these days, there are more options than ever to make those interactions easier, safer and as importantly, they preserve the human-animal bond in the process. 

With over 20 years of experience in pet care and the past 10 of those focused on animal hospice, Lorrie Shaw is a Certified Animal Hospice Practitioner and Certified Fear Free Professional. She is CXO of Telos Companion Animal Services, LLC and can be found at

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