Split decision Sunday


By Dr. Adam Ferguson - Guest columnist



The tryptophan-laden turkey was eaten on Thanksgiving Day Thursday. The early-bird sales were earned in the pre-dawn hours on Black Friday. The Big Game was played on Small Business Saturday. And the super-duper online Christmas bargains begin Monday on Cyber Monday.

So what does that make today, the Sunday in the middle of all this gateway to the Grand Poobah of all holidays?

Well … most importantly, it is the Lord’s day. So the Sabbath is certainly one option in our naming scheme. However, every Sunday is the Lord’s day, so the Sabbath doesn’t make this particular Sunday stand out.

Second most important is it is the day that this pet column comes out in the paper! So Small Animal News Topics of Interest Sunday or SANTI Sunday could be a possibility.

However, once again, this column comes out every Sunday, so that title alone does not distinguish this particular Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend.

In addition, SANTI Sunday sounds like Santa Sunday. This could wreak havoc on the world, cause all kinds of confusion and create a need for modified calendars with yet another date with bold letters at the bottom.

What about Split Decision Sunday? We are split between the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving and the winter holidays of Christmas and New Year’s.

We are split between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Shopping in-store in the early hours of the morning or shopping online in our underwear.

We are split between cleaning up our house from the Thanksgiving festivities and setting out our decorations for Christmas.

We are split between the end of football season and the beginning of basketball season.

With all this discussion of splitting things, it seems prudent to mention (since this is a column about pet health care after all) something about splitting medications.

Have you ever paid attention to medication in general? Did you ever notice that some pills have a split (called a “score”) right down the middle of them?

This not only makes them easier to break in half, but assures us that those medications when broken in half have exactly the same amount of medication in each half.

For example: A 20 mg medication with a score has exactly 10 mg in one half and 10 mg in the other half. The same cannot be said for a medication without a score.

A pill that does not have a score is likely to have the drug within it fairly evenly distributed throughout the pill. But it is not guaranteed to be homogeneous.

Unfortunately, because of the small size of many veterinary patients, it is often necessary to prescribe tiny amounts of certain medications. Sometimes these amounts are so small that they are not available as a whole tablet. Instead, sometimes it is necessary for us to halve or quarter certain medications in order to create a dosage small enough for our tiny patients.

As mentioned earlier, medications in the form of pills that look like actual pills are extremely likely to have the expected dosage in a half or a quarter tablet. Even if they are not scored.

However, one area of caution — heartworm and flea and tick prevention tablets. These flavored pills do NOT look like standard medication tablets but instead look like chewy treats for your pet. Because they are. They happen to be chewy treats for your pet with medicine in them.

Think of these medicated tablets like a monster cookie. You might be able to split the monster cookie exactly in half and get two M&M’s (50 percent) on each half. But you’re just as likely to break the cookie down the middle and get three M&M’s on one half (75 percent) and only one M&M (25 percent) on the other half.

Each tablet is guaranteed to have the labeled amount of medication in that tablet. However, these particular medications are not guaranteed to be evenly distributed throughout the tablet.

Therefore, splitting these medications is not a good practice. One particular heartworm medication is labeled for dogs from zero to 25 pounds. Any dog, whether it is three pounds or 23 pounds, should get a whole tablet.

If you have two 10-pound dogs, you should not split that medication in half. While one dog may be getting adequate protection (75 percent), the other dog may be getting only a portion of the dose (25 percent) it needs to actually protect it from heartworm.

There you have it — an FYI for pet care and a name for today: Split Decision Sunday. It has a nice ring to it. Maybe it will show up on 2018 calendars.

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By Dr. Adam Ferguson

Guest columnist

Dr. Adam Ferguson is the owner of Baker Animal Hospital in Cridersville. Since Thanksgiving is over, he is split on whether to wish his readers a Happy Belated Thanksgiving or a Merry Early Christmas. In either case, he feels he “scored” if you merely took time from your busy online shopping in your underwear to read it!

Dr. Adam Ferguson is the owner of Baker Animal Hospital in Cridersville. Since Thanksgiving is over, he is split on whether to wish his readers a Happy Belated Thanksgiving or a Merry Early Christmas. In either case, he feels he “scored” if you merely took time from your busy online shopping in your underwear to read it!

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