Pets need evidence-based medicine, too


Oh how I wish my vet was 100% evidence based.

I almost lost it when she handed us some homeopathic garbage, but tried not to embarrass my wife and kept my cool while saying “absolutely no way.”

The vet seemed to recognize I knew what was up with trying to sell us 20 ml of water disguised as medicine and she apologized and seemed to be embarrassed for suggesting it in the first place. I still am not sure if she knew it was BS and was just trying to make some extra money or thought that animal owners, like many parents, like to get something to treat whatever they came in for and she felt the homeopathic stuff was the easiest way to not really give us any medication.

But I will never consider her a good vet and if her office wasn’t literally 2 block from our house we would not be going there and we don’t go there for anything that is not routine like eye drops and vaccinations.


Its not just the vets but pet stores as well. My 13 year old cat started to have a significant limp and was barely moving around the house anymore. I assumed it was arthritis because he’s a very large cat and he’s getting old. So I picked up some “organic joint powder” from the local pet store which claims to be ground up mushrooms (so not glucosamine). Who decided it was safe to sell for animals? If it works for a dog will it work for my cat? I just have to guess because it seems like no one knows.
The best I can tell you is that we started adding the supplement to his food twice a day and he’s way better and more active. We tried removing it from his diet for a week and he could barely move again. I wish someone else had done some studies instead of me having to do my own experiments though.

I am super careful with products like that, as I really have no idea what is in them. And I am more suspicious of products like that that seem to actually work, herbal products often have real medications in them that are not listed on the label. You could very well just be giving your dog a high dose of some NSAID that leads to accidental overdose at some time in the future or other interactions, or just long term problems. And even if it is what is on the label you have no data on long term toxicity (liver damage for example), other drug interactions or consistent dosing.

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I found this post to be very surprising. I am finishing up my PhD in pharmacology and to my knowledge all drugs for humans go through 2-3 animal studies (most often mouse, dog, monkey) to establish efficacy and safety before they are given on humans even on a trail bases. These studies are available in the publicly available literature.

Yeah, its definitely a risk. I wish I had an alternative but I don’t. Basically he’s an old cat, and he has problems that seemed to be solved by random powder (been doing this a year now). So I figure if he’s going to get something from old age or medication toxicity or whatever, he’s lived a long and happy life and I will make the end as bearable as possible regardless.

Yeah. Except that people fabricate the results of those tests, get onto the committees who set the guidelines, and before you know it 800,000 people die prematurely because their doctors followed those guidelines. Or maybe not. Certainly the Erasmus Centre fired the doctor concerned and alleged that he fabricated evidence on beta blockers: “…careless in collecting the data for his research. In one study, it was found that he used patient data without written permission, used fictitious data and that two reports were submitted to conferences which included knowingly unreliable data.”

Myself, I’ll take the magic water any time. At least the placebo effect doesn’t kill you.

My cat came with a contract: no leukemia shots - plus some others I can’t recall right now. I’m not allowed to let her out of doors. And I have to have at least one other cat - she gets lonely. Apparently a lot of cats die from the vacine shots they get. Many get cancer from the FLV vaccine, apparently. Then there was the vet that wasted my time trying to save my other cats eye when he knew the whole time it would have to come out. By the way, removing a cat’s eye costs over 600$ - just so you know. Vets; necessary evil.

Yes, I’m glad something is making him feel better in his senior years. Amazingly, as you say, there are no NSAIDs for pain relief in a cats.

To top it off, the responsible agency is not the FDA; for animals we have to trust the USDA. I didn’t know this until a few years ago, when I couldn’t afford a prescription flea control method so I purchased and used the grocery store Hartz collars for both my dogs. They both had acute neurological reactions to the collars - trembling, foaming, twitching, restlessness - that they’d never had to the prescription options. That’s when I learned that the USDA has been sitting on hundreds of complaints about these products. The USDA doesn’t care about pet animals, frankly, nor should they be tasked with this job, in my opinion.

Except you are mistaken.

While you are there, you might use the “Veterinary Adverse Event Voluntary Reporting” link on the right and/or browse the adverse event database.

Wow. So many of the responses here are along the lines of “you just can’t trust them doctors”, and vaccines cause autism you know…

There are good vets and bad vets just like there are good human doctors and bad human doctors. I’ve got a friend who is an old hippy who insists on going to some homeopathic type doctor who loves to go on about “water molecule remembrance” and other wholly non-scientific principles.

If you’ve got a Vet who practices non-scientific medicine, tell him/her so and go elsewhere.

And if you’ve got a vet who recommends unwarranted medical procedures or treatments report them to your state’s veterinary medical board as that is super unethical!

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Not exactly entirely true reporting. There is a company called VetPharm ( who is a Clinical Research Organization in the market to test animal pharmaceuticals per the usual CFR FDA rules and regulations that we have in place for human trials. I do believe they also do Phase IV marketing/safety/efficacy trials as well as the standard Phase 2/3. Mostly equine research I am told but I do know they have other trials out there per the FDA (whether its for a new indication/generics etc I am not sure). Perhaps worth investigating to see what sort of trials the FDA is following on I have never looked but now I am curious!

We made a similar choice for one of our cats. She is taking steroids on a long-term basis because they make her feel so much better and, given her age, the long term adverse effects of steroid use aren’t as pressing. She was also steadily losing weight and didn’t have any to spare in the first place.
I too wish there was an alternative, but cats do not tolerate many many substances humans and dogs can use. Though I would try to find out whats in that powder, just so I could watch out for possible interactions with other medications or foods.

Hm - I wonder where I got that. Thanks for the correction!

Vaccines maybe? That might be in their purview.
Sorry to hear about your animal’s adverse reaction. I always hold my breath and cross my fingers when we have to put flea/tick treatment on our dog, but ticks here can carry something that is fatal to dogs so we shouldn’t really skip it.

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