Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

The Time Is Right

Giving pet medications on a schedule is an important part of ensuring a good outcome of treatment

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

Pets’ lives can be measured in a number of different ways. There’s the crazy entertaining stage of puppies and kittens, the active prime of life, the calmer stage of the middle-aged pet, and the medication stage that is most often seen in senior and geriatric animals. I’m currently in the latter stage with my two cavalier King Charles spaniels, and it’s a stage I’ve been through many times before. I’ve had cats who required insulin injections or subcutaneous fluids, a canine amputee who needed pain meds, and dogs who have needed pills, potions, drops and lotions for everything from heart disease to corneal ulcers to skin conditions.

Over the years, one of the most important things I’ve learned is the importance of timing when giving medications. You can’t just give them any old time. If the bottle says every six hours, then it’s important to adhere as closely as possible to that schedule for best effects, even if it means staying up until midnight and then getting up again at 6 a.m. for the next dose. If you’re lucky, as we were recently, that won’t last for more than a week.

Ask your veterinarian if there’s a grace period for giving medication, insulin injections or fluids. My dog Keeper gets one particular pill at 2 p.m. every day. His board-certified cardiologist, Sarah Miller, DVM, assured us that it could be given up to two hours earlier or later if we weren’t home at the right time.

Sometimes pets need multiple medications throughout the day. We once had a cavalier who required seven pills daily, some more than once, and all at different times, of course. That was in the olden days before cellphones and smart speakers, so I programmed my personal digital assistant to give an alarm at the appropriate times. These days, a smart speaker reminds us about Keeper’s midday and pre-bedtime pills.

Recently, we used old-school pen and paper to make a chart for the pills, fluids and injections Harper needed throughout the day after hospitalization for a serious kidney infection. After each one was administered, we checked it off and wrote down the time. When there was a question about whether we needed to continue injections of a particular antibiotic, we were able to go back to the sheet and count the number of days it had been given and determine that she had finished the course. Checking off the days on a calendar works, too, if you aren’t dealing with multiple medications multiple times daily.

With antibiotics, in particular, it’s essential to give them for the entire time prescribed, even if your pet seems “cured” before you’ve used it all. Don’t save the remainder “for next time.” Not giving the full amount for the appropriate length of time can lead to antibiotic resistance, making bacteria and fungi more powerful when it comes to defeating the drugs sent to kill them.

With or without food? That’s always an important question to ask about a pet’s medication. Some absorb more quickly if given on an empty stomach. Others, such as NSAIDs, are less likely to cause gastrointestinal upset when there’s food in the stomach. Calcium-rich foods such as yogurt can interfere with absorption of some antibiotics. And pets with sensitive stomachs may do best when medications are given with food -- as long as that doesn’t affect their efficacy. Write down what your veterinarian tells you about how to give the medication, or ask for an instruction sheet that you can refer to, especially if you’re giving multiple meds.


How many kinds

of dogs are there?

Q: How many dog breeds are there in the world?

A: That’s a good question! Nobody really knows for sure. The registration organizations for the United States (American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club), Canada (Canadian Kennel Club), the United Kingdom (The Kennel Club), Europe (Federation Cynologique International) and Australia (Australian National Kennel Council), to name just a few, recognize many of the same breeds, but they each also recognize various individual breeds that the others don’t.

And some breeds go by different names in different countries. Take Tatra shepherd dogs. That’s what they’re called in Australia. The AKC calls them Polish Tatra sheepdogs, and the United Kennel Club gives them their original Polish name of owczarek Podhalanski. The vizsla in the United States is the braque Hongrois in France.

At last count, the AKC recognized 195 breeds. The United Kennel Club, although based in the U.S., recognizes more than 300 breeds from around the world. The FCI lists 360 recognized breeds, many of them the same as those recognized by the UKC.

Some breeds are considered by the FCI to be in the developmental stage. Some of those “provisional” breeds that you might see at dog shows in the future include Estonian hounds, Kintamani-Bali dogs, Lancashire heelers, miniature American shepherds and Prague ratters.

The Kennel Club, in 2020, recognized 218 different breeds, including the aforementioned Lancashire heeler. The Canadian Kennel Club recognizes 175 breeds. Two of those are the Canadian Eskimo dog and the Karelian bear dog. They are recognized by the CKC and the FCI, but not by the AKC.

Then there are landraces: genetically diverse domestic dogs adapted to a particular locale or culture. One such is Mongolia’s Bankhar dog.

A good guess is that there are at least 400 different breeds, give or take a few. -- Dr. Marty Becker

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Dog paws dirty?

Not so fast!

-- What’s cleaner than the soles of your shoes? A recent study suggests that the answer is your dog’s paws. Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands took samples from the paws of 50 assistance dogs and the shoe soles of their handlers. They did the same for an equal number of pet dogs and their people, in each case examining the samples for poop bacteria (Enterobacteriaceae), which are common outdoors, and for an important diarrheal bacteria (Clostridium difficile). “The dogs’ paws turned out to be cleaner than the soles of the shoes,” says master’s student Jasmijn Vos. They concluded that paw hygiene was no reason to ban assistance dogs from hospitals.

-- Parents of cat-loving kids will want to seek out the award-winning book “The Cat Man of Aleppo” (Putnam, 2020) by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha, charmingly illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. A Caldecott Honor book, it tells the story of Alaa, a resident of Aleppo, Syria, who takes action when war comes to his beloved city. Besides being an ambulance driver, he takes notice of the many sad cats left behind when their people had to flee for their lives. He begins feeding them and provides them with shelter. Word spreads, and soon people from around the world are helping out with donations. Find out what happens next!

-- Bird emergencies are much the same as those for other pets. Get your feathered friend to the vet quick if you see any of the following: bites or claw wounds from other pets, deep cuts, uncontrolled bleeding, burns, poisoning, difficulty breathing, collapse, blood in his droppings, straining to defecate or pass an egg, eye injury, lack of appetite, a “puffed-up” appearance, sudden swelling, broken bones, diarrhea, or contact with dog or cat saliva, even if the skin isn’t broken. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by “The Dr. Oz Show” veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many best-selling pet care books, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.