(WTOL) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that although opioids are just a small part of the medication that veterinarians prescribe, these prescriptions might be a way for pet owners to obtain opioids.
According to the FDA, fifteen states, including Michigan, require vets to report when they dispense opioids and other controlled substances to patients, but vets in Ohio and 33 other states do not have to do this.
And only some states require vets to look at a pet owner’s past medication history before writing an opioid prescription for their animals.
The FDA also says that due to the limited opioid products approved for animals, veterinarians who need to use an opioid to control pain in their patients often use products approved for use in humans.
The FDA says it’s important for vets to understand all state and federal regulations that come with prescribing opioids, as well as educating pet owners on safe storage and disposal of opioids and knowing what to do if a pet overdoses on opioids.READ MORE: The Opioid Epidemic: What Veterinarians Need to Know
The FDA also offers signs that may indicate a pet owner is abusing opioids, such as:
- Suspect injuries in a new patient
- Asking for specific medications by name
- Asking for refills for lost or stolen medications
- Pet owner is insistent in their request
Some warning signs that veterinary staff may be abusing opioids include:
- Mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Mental confusion and an inability to concentrate
- Making frequent mistakes at work
- Not showing up for work
The FDA says it’s important to have a safety plan in place in the event that vets encounter a situation involving opioid diversion or clients seeking opioids under the guise of treating their pets. The FDA also says to explore alternatives to opioids to deal with pain management in animals, if possible.