Educational Articles

Small Mammals

  • Aluminum hydroxide is commonly used off label to treat high phosphate levels in pets with kidney disease. It is given by mouth, with meals, in the form of a liquid gel, powder, or a compounded capsule. The most common side effect is constipation, and therefore should be used in caution with pets with a gastrointestinal obstruction or pets prone to constipation. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Atenolol is used off label and given by mouth to treat certain heart conditions in dogs, cats, and ferrets. Common side effects include tiredness and stomach upset. Contraindications include hypersensitivity to beta-blockers, heart failure, heart block, low heart rate, or certain lung disease. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Azathioprine is an immune suppressing medication given by mouth or as an injection and is mainly used off label to treat immune-mediated diseases in dogs. Common side effects include gastrointestinal upset and bone marrow suppression. This medication should not be used in pets that are allergic to azathioprine or are pregnant. It should be used with caution in pets with liver or kidney disease. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Cisapride is used off label and is given by mouth to treat gastrointestinal motility disorders in cats, dogs, and small mammals. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it or in pets with conditions that would be made worse by increased intestinal movement. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cell samples. Cytology can be used to diagnose growths or masses found on the surface of the body, and also to assess bodily fluids, internal organs, and abnormal fluids that may accumulate, especially in the chest and abdomen. Cells can be collected using various methods including fine needle aspiration, skin scraping, impression smear, cotton-tipped swabs, or lavage. A biopsy is the surgical removal of a representative sample of tissue from a suspicious lesion. The most common biopsy techniques are punch biopsy, wedge biopsy, and excision biopsy. The tissue is then processed and is examined under a microscope via histopathology. Histopathology allows the veterinary pathologist to make a diagnosis, classify the tumor, and predict the course of the disease.

  • Dexamethasone is given on and off label, by mouth or injection, to treat various inflammatory, autoimmune, and adrenal gland conditions. It can also be used off label as a diagnostic test. Common side effects include increased drinking, urination and/or appetite, dull/dry haircoat, weight gain, pot-bellied appearance, muscle weakness, panting, vomiting, or diarrhea. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it, have systemic fungal infections, diabetes, or stomach or intestinal ulcers, or are taking NSAIDs. It should not be used in rabbits or in surgical pets. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Diazoxide is used to treat certain tumors (insulinomas) in ferrets and to treat low blood sugar secondary to excessive insulin secretion in dogs.

  • Diphenhydramine is given by mouth or as an injection and is used on and off label to treat allergic reactions, motion sickness, and to induce sedation. Side effects include sleepiness, and less commonly dry mouth and gastrointestinal upset. Diphenhydramine should not be used in pets that are allergic to this medication and should be used cautiously in pets with glaucoma, enlarged prostate, thyroid or heart disease, or are lactating. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Doxycycline is an antibiotic given by mouth in the form of a tablet, capsule, or liquid, used off label to treat certain infections. Common side effects include stomach upset, sun sensitivity, and increases in liver enzymes. Serious side effects include liver failure, seizures, and trouble swallowing. Do not use in pregnant pets, and use cautiously in pets with liver disease or in young pets. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Enalapril is used on and off label and is given by mouth or injection to treat heart failure, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, or proteinuria. Common side effects include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and tiredness. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it, have an acute kidney injury, or have certain heart conditions. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

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