Veterinarians cautious about prescribing controlled substances

Veterinarians cautious about prescribing controlled substances

In Buffalo, New York, veterinarians are watching out for warning signs after finding some pet owners are intentionally harming their animals to get prescription drugs.

Veterinarians said the prescription drug Tramadol is usually prescribed to animals in pain, but people are using it with other opioids to get high. These cases have made veterinarians, including those in Wisconsin, even more careful about how they are prescribing pain medication.

Ruthanne Chun, the medical director of UW Veterinary Care, said, thankfully, there have not been any cases like this in the Madison area. But there are warning signs that veterinarians monitor.

“Veterinarians naturally watch out for it when they prescribe pain medications,” Chun said. “Many of the patients that we see are smaller than the average person, so the dose they’re going to be prescribed is lower. And if there is something that is being requested for a refill sooner than would be expected, that raises some flags.”

Wisconsin also operates under the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that requires prescription drug dispensers to collect information about what they prescribe to help address the problem of opioid abuse.

Chun said she doesn’t think any practicing veterinarians prescribe controlled substances without pausing for a moment to consider if this is what the animal needs.

“I think that the use of controlled substances in veterinary patients is done very judiciously,” Chun said. “There are a lot of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and non-controlled pain management options that people tend to lean towards so that we don’t have to use controlled substances.”