Renew your subscription
Lifestyle // The Wild Side
Dr. John Kaya

‘V’ Is For Valentine’s — And Viagra

There is a limited selection of medication approved for pets. Because of this, veterinarians turn to human pharmaceuticals to help their patients. Initially choosing the right drug and tinkering with dosages can be quite challenging. With time and experience, however, new drugs are added to a veterinarian’s repertoire. The following story stretches the imagination as a leap of faith is needed to try a seldom-used drug.

One Valentine’s Day, Angie walked in with her dog Yoshi, a 5-year-old male neutered sheltie. Yoshi had been lethargic and coughing for more than a week. His physical exam was normal except for being overweight and hacking periodically in the exam room.

“Doc, I’m worried about Yoshi. He’s been coughing for over a week, and he seems listless. He also breathes loudly when he’s sleeping at night. Is there anything that can be done for him?” asked Angie.

After reviewing the options, we decided to take X-rays and submit a bacterial culture for analysis. The Xrays showed a mild case of pneumonia, and since the culture would take four to five days, we decided to start Yoshi on a broad spectrum antibiotic.

One week later I called Angie to let her know that the culture identified the organism and that the medication we chose should take care of the problem. She reported that Yoshi seemed to be improving.

One month later Yoshi came back for a recheck appointment. His coughing fits were much better but still lingered. After a month on meds, Yoshi’s cough should have resolved, so we spent the next week doing further testing to look for an underlying disease process. The results hinted at pulmonary hypertension. Getting confirmation of this disease is very difficult so we discussed our options, which included treatment with a drug rarely used in veterinary medicine.

Trying to keep a straight face, I said, “Angie, the medication I’d like to prescribe for Yoshi is … Viagra.” A smile slowly crept over Angie’s face. She’d obviously heard of the drug.

“Doc, isn’t Viagra used by men for impotence?” asked Angie.

“Yup,” I replied, “but it was first created to help with pulmonary hypertension. The improved sexual performance was just a side effect as it turned out, a much-desired side effect.”

After a long discussion we decided to try Yoshi on Viagra for one month and see the response to therapy. Calling in the prescription to a local pharmacy did require some explanation, but the good news was that Yoshi’s cough got better on Viagra. I suggested increasing the dosage in hope of further improvement, but the problem was the enormous cost of the medication. Angie was already spending $250 for a month’s supply. Reluctantly we stopped Yoshi’s therapy.

Animals face many challenges in health care. Yoshi’s medical condition required using Viagra not for pleasure, but for necessity. Unfortunately, the benefits could not outweigh the cost.

MidWeek Newsletter
2013-2014 Ilima Awards
EVENTS CALENDAR
Community