a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Meds for Tika

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Meds for Tika

SUMMARY: Confounded dog brains, confounded drug prices.

Back on November 10, after that trip to the emergency room, I started Tika on the diuretic Disal (furosimide), 2x/day (half of a small disk-shaped pill).

On November 12, I realized that she also had that anal gland infection and started her on the antibiotic Cephalexin, 2x/day (one green capsule).

After we got the ultrasound done on November 19, which revealed the messy heart situation, we started her on Enalapril to keep her blood pressure down 2x/day (one small disk-shaped pill) and Vetmedin (Pimobendan) to strengthen her heart 2x/day (one large chewable tablet).

So she had 4 meds, twice a day, just chewing up the chewable tablet and the others each wrapped in a slice of string cheese. (Boost also got cheese to keep everyone happy.)

As of November 28, she had done the first one 36 times over 18 days, the 2nd one 32 times over 16 days, and the last two 20 times over 10 days.

Then she rejected the antibiotic. I rewrapped it several times, but by then she (the dog who snaps food from your hand, gulps it down and asks for more) was taking it each time very gingerly and then quickly spitting it out. Eventually the capsule just became soggy and I gave up on that one for the evening.

The next morning, Nov 29th, she spit out that one (with the cheese wrapping) and she also spit out the teeny tiny half of a Disal pill (also with its cheese wrapping). I did finally get her to take them both.

The renter all along has been saying "cream cheese is the best." He watched this production and again said, "cream cheese". I said that I've been giving dogs pills in semisoft cheese for years without any problems until right then and I was sure everything would be fine.

The next morning when I handed her the chewable tablet--keep in mind that she has cheerfully accepted and chewed 24 of them so far--she took it and spit it out immediately. I handed it back to her, same thing. I wrapped it in cheese. Same thing. I broke it in half and wrapped it in cheese. Same thing. What was going through that little brain that suddenly decided she wasn't going to chew those any more?

Finally I smeared it with peanut butter and that worked, but peanut butter is pretty greasy and smelly.

That evening, tried handing it to her plain again, but no, she was having none of it. So I went out and bought a tub of cream cheese. (And, hey, whatever happened to those foil-wrapped blocks that it used to come in? Now it's all in plastic tubs!)

Now she's consuming all the pills again happily as I surround each with a tiny blob of cream cheese. A bit messy but not as bad as peanut butter.


Yesterday I went to the vet's to get refills on everything (except the antibiotics), and laid out over $150 for a month's supply. Yikes! Maybe this isn't as bad as cancer treatments, but that adds up to a lot of money that wasn't in my budget, for every month that she goes on surviving (which I hope she'll do for a long time).

Vet said that he'd gladly transfer any prescriptions that I could find more cheaply at human pharmacies (not the Vetmedin, of course). I'll look into that before the next refills.

Dang health care costs! Plus the price of the cream cheese! :-)

Update: Dec 5, 9:15AM PST: Funny thing: I took this photo a couple of days ago. You can see that the field is sopping wet from all the rain we'd received up through that morning. Just now I notice that the sprinklers are on in the far background! I never noticed them while we were there. Great use of our scarce water resources, eh?


  1. How interesting that she started rejecting the pills. Makes me think she's going to reject the cream cheese, too one day. Maybe you can go back to semi-soft cheese again :-)
    The expense of health care for our dogs is really scary. So far, it doesn't seem like health insurance is very helpful in these cases since the older your dog, the higher the premium and the lower the payout and the less they cover.
    Glad those meds are working, though!

    1. Yes, I'm waiting to see whether the cream cheese continues to work. I can always switch to peanut butter for a while, I guess. And if that fails--well, the pills I can probably grind up and mix in rather than leaving them whole, which might work (my husky was an expert at licking all the ice cream out of a bowl and leaving all the tiny pieces of pill behind).

      The last time I sat down and tried to figure out whether insurance would've helped if I'd had it for all my dogs (up to that point--5 dogs) I thought that with Remington's cancer I might have finally broken even, but it didn't seem like a good idea. I have friends who swear by their pet insurance, but I haven't asked them whether they've broken even over all the years of paying it. Consumer Reports was pretty skeptical about whether you'd come out ahead, too.

  2. Probably not better than cream cheese, but my delivery method is in a little "meatball" of canned dog food. I suppose canned tripe would be a step up from there if needed.

    1. Oh, canned dog food is a great idea! Both dogs seemed to have some diarrhea last night and i'm wondering if it's the cream cheese. They're not getting very much at all, probably not more than a teaspoonful morning and evening, but I'm wondering whether that's it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. One trick I use sometimes is to give the other dog (the one getting the good stuff without the pill) several pieces of it while the drug dog has to sit there and watch. By the time I turn to give the drug dog their treat-encased drug, they positively gulp it down and I quickly give them another piece to encourage them to swallow the first one before they have a chance to chew it. Works often for my guys, but not always. Another is to have three or four pieces of the cheese or whatnot, only one of which is drugged, and feed them all to the dog quickly one after the other, varying which (the first, second, third, etc.) is the one with the drugs from one day to another.

    I signed my four animals up with pet insurance last year after years and years of figuring it wouldn't be worth it. Hearing about a friend's costs with the diagnosis and treatment of her dog's cancer sure added up to some big numbers (she didn't have insurance) so it got me thinking and I ended up doing it. In some ways I lucked out as my 14-year old cat was only just recently diagnosed with kidney failure, so everything related to that will be covered (already made one claim) and yet I've only paid 1 year rather than 14 years worth of premiums for her. I generally keep them at the highest deductible ($1000 in my case) so that the coverage is there in case of the big ticket diseases/illnesses and it keeps it affordable -- $140/month for three of my guys at $1000 deductible and the 14-year old cat at $500 deductible. Will I come out ahead in the end? All I can say is all it would take would be one cancer diagnosis/treatment to eat up most of my savings, so the peace of mind is worth it for me.

    But dang, nothing about having animals is cheap, eh!

    LOVE that photo of Tika btw!

    1. What you describe is exactly the method I'd been using--give Boost some, then have a bunch of pieces of cheese lined up in my hand so that when Tika takes the first one, I just keep cramming them in. Worked for a couple of weeks, but then when she decided she didn't want to take any more, she started taking the first one gingerly and then locking her mouth shut until she could spit it out even as I tried cramming more yummy cheese in.

      You're saying the $140/month is for all 4 animals?

    2. Oh darn -- I didn't read your post right. Hoped maybe I had an extra trip for you to try :-)

      Yes, $140 for all 4 animals, including tax. Each of my dogs is about $34 per month including tax. That's with the $1000 deductible, so there are a lot of "little" things that may come up that I won't ever get money back for since the deductible is per incident or condition.

    3. I figured out the "tip" :-). I didn't describe in detail what I did in my post, but you nailed it.

      Hmm, $1000 per incident or condition--tells me that with all the money I've spent this year, I don't think I'd have gotten any of it back yet. Does your insurance cover regular office visits & shots, or do you also have to pay those yourself?

  4. Sent you a message with more info :)