A Guide to Prescription Drugs for Dogs

Recent advances in the development of drugs for dogs have yielded many new and effective treatments for common dog ailments and conditions. These pet drugs reduce pain, prevent and treat disease and improve the quality of life for millions of dogs each day.

Many veterinary drugs are based on successful human drugs including those for arthritis, anxiety and infections. Do not, however, mix or exchange human and canine drugs. Formulations are not always equivalent and dosages may be very different.

Some of the most widely prescribed veterinary drugs are used to treat these common disorders and problems:


Non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have revolutionized the treatment of arthritis in dogs. These powerful drugs have helped improve the quality of life for arthritic dogs. Be aware that these drugs may cause liver and gastrointestinal damage and should be used under strict veterinary supervision. Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Adequan and Etogesic are some of the most widely prescribed brands.


There are several veterinary antihistamines available tablet and spray form. Atopica, Chlorpheniramine, Clemestine, Diphenhydramine and Cyprothetadine are popular non-steroidal formulas. Corticosteroids such as Methylprednisolone and Prednisolone offer significant benefits for certain conditions but pose health risks as well.

Fleas, Ticks and Heartworms

Flea and tick products are the most-prescribed veterinary medications. Easy to use and effective, products such as Frontline, Advantage, Revolution, Interceptor and Program have all but eliminated the flea season suffering of dogs and cats. Some products protect against heartworm and intestinal worms as well. Spread by mosquitoes, canine heartworm disease is difficult to treat but easy to prevent.

Bacterial Infections

The list of antibiotics available for your dog is long. Your veterinarian will decide which is most appropriate for your dog's particular needs. Amoxicillin, Cephalexin, Clavamox, Ciprofloxacin and Baytril are broad-spectrum antibiotics. There specific drugs for conjunctivitis, respiratory infections, burns and other infections.

Thyroid Problems

To treat hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, your veterinarian may prescribe Soloxine, Thyroxine or Levothyroxine.


Glaucoma, fluid buildup in the eye, is often initially treated with eye drops such as Xalatan, Timolol or Trusopt which decrease fluid production. Oral diuretics such as Acetazolamide or Methazolamide may be prescribed as well.

Hormonal Disorders: Addison's and Cushing's

Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism) is a serious disease that results in insufficient production of adrenal hormones. Based on the cause of your dog's Addison's, your veterinarian may prescribe Florinef, Percorten V and possibly corticosteroids.

Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism), often considered to the opposite of Addison's disease, is treated with Lysodren, Anipryl, Selegiline or Ketoconazole.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Canine cognitive dysfunction is similar to Alzheimer's disease. Age-related behavior changes such as confusion and lack of responsiveness may indicate a decline in mental function. Anipryl increases the amount of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) in the brain and improves overall cognitive function.

All pet drugs and medications should be administered according to your veterinarian's instructions.

Working together, you and your veterinarian can design the best possible treatment plan for your pet.