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  1. Animal Health Literacy

Client Information Sheets—Take-Home Safety Knowledge

When your veterinarian prescribes medication for your pet, it’s sometimes hard to remember all the information discussed during the visit. Fortunately, for some medications you can receive a Client Information Sheet from your veterinarian to help answer questions and explain why he or she prescribed the medication.

What is a Client Information Sheet?

A Client Information Sheet (CIS) is written specifically for pet owners, in a user-friendly, question-and-answer format. The handout gives you detailed information about your pet’s medication and the side effects it can cause, helping you use the medication as safely and effectively as possible for your pet. A Client Information Sheet tells you:

  • what the drug’s name is and what type of drug it is,
  • what you can expect the drug to do for your pet,
  • what the drug’s potential side effects are,
  • what you should do if you see side effects in your pet, and
  • what special care you may need to take when dosing the medication.

A Client Information Sheet is different from the medication’s package insert. Although the package insert also explains how the drug works and what the potential side effects are, it’s written for a veterinarian, so it contains medical terms that may be hard to understand.

Where can I get a Client Information Sheet?

You can get a Client Information Sheet from your veterinarian. Not all animal medications, however, have Client Information Sheets available. Generally, they’re written for medications where owner involvement is important for safe and effective use. Some FDA-approved animal medications that have Client Information Sheets include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for companion animals
  • Cancer drugs for companion animals
  • Other animal drugs on an as-needed basis

You should receive a Client Information Sheet every time your veterinarian fills a prescription for any of the medications that have a CIS; whether it’s the first time your pet is receiving it or the 15th refill. In fact, the package inserts for these medications inform the veterinarian to provide a client information sheet with the prescription.

Why is a Client Information Sheet important for some medications?

A Client Information Sheet is an important, helpful reminder about your pet’s medication. If you think your pet is having a problem with the medication, you can refer to the Client Information Sheet for advice. By helping you recognize possible side effects, the handout can increase your pet’s chance for a good recovery.

What should I do if I think my pet is having side effects from a medication?

The most important thing you should do if you think your pet is having side effects from a medication is call your veterinarian immediately! Your veterinarian can determine whether your pet should be seen and whether you should stop giving your pet its medication.

My pet had a side effect from a medication. Where can I report it?

If your pet had a side effect from a medication, report the incident even if you think it's not a serious side effect! Side effects, also called adverse drug experiences, should first be reported to the drug company by calling the phone number on the Client Information Sheet or on the medication’s label. Drug companies are required by law to send all reports of side effects they receive to the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) within certain time frames. If you tell the drug company about your pet’s side effect, the report will reach FDA.

For more information about reporting side effects, you can contact FDA by phone or see the agency’s Web page on reporting problems: How to Report Animal Drug and Device Side Effects and Product Problems.

What does CVM do with reports of side effects?

When CVM receives reports of side effects from drug companies, veterinarians, or pet owners, the Center’s scientists enter the information into an online database of adverse drug experiences. CVM scientists use our Adverse Drug Experience (ADE) database to make decisions about product safety which may include changes to the label or other regulatory actions. Updated labels help veterinarians use medications more safely and effectively in their patients.

Veterinarians and pet owners aren’t required to report side effects to the drug company or CVM. However, the more complete the database, the better informed our scientists are when making product safety decisions. So, please report medication side effects in your pet!

Our Adverse Event Reports for Animal Drugs and Devices page has information about adverse event reports. CVM’s ADE database is available online at openFDA.gov. The database contains reports starting from January 1, 1987 to the present. CVM will update the database quarterly with new reports.

Communication is Key

All medications have risks and benefits. While your veterinarian is the most qualified source of information about your pet’s medications and care, Client Information Sheets put helpful information right in your hand. When your veterinarian prescribes medication for your pet, ask if a Client Information Sheet is available.

Remember: Being an informed owner is your pet’s best defense against serious side effects from any medication!

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