It’s inconceivable to most of us that people are repeatedly harming pets to get opioids, but studies show that it happens more than we realize. Scientists from Penn Medicine and Penn Vet conducted a study that reveals a 41 percent increase in pet opioid prescriptions in the last ten years. However, the number of vet visit only increased by about 13 percent. Obviously, there was something unusual going on. Who’s really using all those meds?
Are Veterinarians Suspicious About Who is Using the Meds?
The dramatic spike in pet opioid prescriptions could mean that those meds weren’t consumed by Fido. For that reason, the researchers reviewed pet hospital pharmacy records. They found that the most widely prescribed painkillers were hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl patches, and tramadol. About 73% of those prescriptions were for dogs, 23% for cats, and the remainder for other pets such as rabbits, birds, or snakes.
Researchers with the Center for Health, Work, and Environment surveyed veterinarians and found that about 13% suspected some clients of purposely injuring their pets to get opioids. The suspected injuries include cutting the pet with razor blades or other sharp instruments. Some even feed the animal something to make it appear ill. FDA Commission, Scott Gottlieb called on veterinarians to recommend alternative medications when possible and to educate the pet owners about safe storage and disposal of opioids, if prescribed.
What Can be Done to Prevent People from Harming Pets to Get Opioids?
As these incidents of pet abuse continue to increase, many states have created new medication restrictions for veterinarians. Working with state legislators, the Veterinary Medical Association is looking into this issue. Some of the steps they are taking include monitoring patients that need long-term opioid use and creating opioid administration guidelines. Their goal is to significantly reduce the number of people who are harming pets to get opioids.
Also, veterinarians are alert for suspicious injuries, especially repeated injuries to the same pet. Vets are also informed about how to check the pet owner’s background for a history of drug abuse or “doctor- shopping” indicators. In addition, the FDA released a list of recommendations for veterinarians in case they encounter a situation of deliberate pet abuse.
Some veterinarians report that they do not prescribe opioids if they suspect the pet owner of drug-seeking. Many vets refuse to keep these substances in their clinics. Also, they are now asking clients to sign waivers that allow them to examine the pet’s medical background. If the person refuses to sign, the vet will refuse treatment. In some states, vets must report each opioid or other controlled substance they prescribe.
Treatment for Opioid Addiction Prevents More Harm to Innocent Victims
Harming pets to get opioids is just one more way addicts inflict pain to get what they want. But, the list of victims of the opioid epidemic in the US is astonishing. It includes friends, family, employers, children, pets, and society as a whole. To prevent further harm to these victims and to the substance abusers themselves, professional treatment is the best option.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, please contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation today. We can get you on the path to the drug-free, healthy lifestyle you deserve. Our program offers the most innovative and up-to-date evidence-based treatment available today. One of our representatives will conduct a confidential assessment and recommend a treatment plan that is right for your needs.
fda.gov – FDA Regulation of Animal Drugs
jamanetwork.com – Trends in Opioid Prescribing and Dispensing by Veterinarians in Pennsylvania
usatoday.com/ – Shocking Trend: Pet Owners Abuse Their Own Animals to Get Drugs