Vet cautions against harmful misuse of veterinary medicine

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 27 Feb 2020

Public concern: Dr Salehatul urges pet owners to pay more attention to the health and safety of their animals.

SHAH ALAM: Heard of a drug touted as a cure-all for pet ailments? According to advertisements, one tablet is all your sick pet needs to be cured of flu, diarrhoea and other illnesses.

Not long ago, the product – priced at RM50 a pack and supported by good reviews – attracted the attention of a private-sector employee, who only wanted to be known as Amri, who bought it for his six-month-old cat Brownie who had been unwell for several days.

Unfortunately, after being given the ‘magic’ pill, Brownie developed convulsions. Amri rushed the cat to the nearest veterinary clinic, where the doctor tried to stabilise it by administering fluids via an intravenous drip. But the cat could not be saved as its organs had failed.

According to veterinarian Dr Salehatul Khuzaimah Mohamad Ali, in her 11-year practice, she has handled many cases where pet owners like Amri tried to treat their sick pets with drugs bought online before their condition worsened.

“It’s shocking when they tell me they bought medication via the Internet. By the time pets are brought in to the clinic, they are in a critical condition and there’s not much we can do to save them.

“I had a case of a cat going blind after its owner administered eye drops purchased online, ” she said.

Dr Salehatul, who runs a clinic in Kota Kemuning and another in Bandar Sri Damansara, is concerned over online retailers that peddle controlled veterinary drugs such as antibiotics and anti-mange medication as tablets and injections.

“It’s not competition we veterinary doctors are worried about but the fate of the animals.

“One’s pet cat might only have a normal fever but its condition may worsen if given medicine bought online because the drug may have passed its expiry date or may be fake or may have been administered in excessive doses, ” she said.

In the field of veterinary medicine, there was no such thing as a single drug that could cure all diseases, she added.

The treatment regime for sick animals varies from disease to disease. The animal must be examined by a veterinary doctor who would enquire after its medical history, age, weight and other details before prescribing any medication.

“Overdosage can damage the liver and kidneys as most medicines are processed by these organs, ” she said, adding that ‘Magic All In One’ was actually a strong antibiotic that can only be administered in special cases.

As in the case of humans, antibiotics for animals should be prescribed by a doctor.

“Not all diseases are caused by bacteria, so antibiotics shouldn’t be used for just about any ailment.

“Some (diseases) are caused by viruses and fungi. Some are caused by allergies. If your cat’s flu is due to an allergy, it doesn’t need antibiotics, ” she said.

Besides antibiotics, other drugs easily available via social media or online stores include drugs to get rid of ticks and mange and eye drops, which should be prescribed by a veterinary doctor or pharmacist, she added.

Urging the authorities to monitor the web and take stern action against errant sellers, she said misusing drugs to the point of causing harm to one’s pet is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act that was enforced in July 2017.

Veterinary Association of Malaysia president Datuk Dr Norlizan Mohd Noor said based on a survey by the association, none of its members was involved in selling veterinary drugs on the Internet.

He appealed to the public to lodge a report with the National

Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (in the Ministry of Health) if they come across unqualified persons retailing veterinary drugs. — Bernama

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