Painless and non-stressful drug administration for animals remains a top priority for both veterinarians and pet owners, especially when caring for cats. Veterinarians and compounding pharmacists are often asked by pet owners if it is possible to deliver a drug by the transdermal route, that is, application to the skin instead of giving an injection or forcing the animal to swallow a tablet or capsule. When considering the potential for transdermal drug delivery, we first look at safety, not only for the patient, but also for the caregiver, because human caregivers are always involved in administering medications to animals. If a medication has been removed from the human market for safety reasons, or a caregiver has an allergy to a particular drug, then giving the drug transdermally is risky. Drugs that cause sun sensitivity should never be applied transdermally as even indoor cats may sit on windowsills and can suffer significant sunburn to exposed skin. Pharmacists have to consider the molecular weights of drugs to determine if they will be able to pass through the various skin layers. These are only some factors that we need to consider for successful transdermal drug therapy.

Assuming that transdermal administration is appropriate for a particular medication, upon receipt of a prescription from a veterinarian, our compounding pharmacist can prepare a transdermal formulation that can be applied to a hairless/shaven area on the animal’s skin or the inside of the ear flap. Transdermal medications are concentrated into small volumes to deliver therapeutic quantities of drug through the skin and then into the general circulation.

Benefits of transdermal delivery include:

  • Enhanced compliance
  • Avoids injury to the pet or caregiver
  • Avoid gastro-intestinal side effects and degradation

Transdermal medications are particularly useful when a pet has one of these conditions and stress should be limited:

  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypertension
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Dental procedures such as an extraction where the jaw should not be stressed to “pill the cat”
  • Esophageal stricture/esophagitis
  • Jaw fractures
  • Herniated disks

The compounding pharmacists at Peachtree Pharmacy are uniquely positioned to consult with veterinarians and pet owners to determine whether or not transdermal drug delivery is feasible.
We welcome your questions!

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