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  1. Animal Health Literacy

Client Information Sheets—Take-Home Safety Knowledge

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

What is a Client Information Sheet?

A Client Information Sheet is written specifically for pet owners in a user-friendly, question-and-answer format. The handout gives you detailed information about your pet’s drug and the side effects it can cause, helping you use it 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 and handling the medication.

The handout is different from the drug’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 drugs, however, have a one. Some FDA-approved drugs for animals that have Client Information Sheets include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for cats, dogs, and horses
  • Cancer drugs for cats and dogs
  • Other animal drugs on an as-needed basis (for example, a drug that has special safety precautions for people when they give it to their pet)

You should receive a Client Information Sheet every time your veterinarian fills a prescription for a drug that has one - whether it’s the first time your pet is receiving it or the 15th refill. In fact, the package inserts for these drugs inform veterinarians to provide a Client Information Sheet with each prescription.

Why is a Client Information Sheet important for some drugs?

A Client Information Sheet is an important, helpful reminder about your pet’s drug. If you think your pet is having a problem with the drug, you can refer to the handout for information. It can help you recognize possible side effects and help you decide if you need to call your veterinarian. Detecting a serious side effect early 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 drug?

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

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

If your pet had a side effect from a drug, please report the incident even if you think it's not serious. You should first report your pet’s side effect to the drug company by calling the phone number on the Client Information Sheet or on the drug’s label. Drug companies that make approved drugs for animals are required by law to send all reports of side effects they receive to FDA 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 FDA do with reports of side effects?

When FDA receives a report about a possible side effect of an animal drug, the agency’s scientists review the information in the report and compare it to information in FDA’s database of animal drug side effects. The scientists also monitor the data for trends. If necessary, they will investigate the problem further and may work with the drug company to change the drug’s label. Updated labels help veterinarians use drugs more safely and effectively in their patients. 

Veterinarians and pet owners aren’t required to report side effects to the drug company or FDA. However, the more complete the database, the better informed the agency’s scientists are when making safety decisions about a drug. So, please report drug side effects in your pet!

When FDA receives a report about a possible side effect of an animal drug, the agency’s scientists review the information in the report and compare it to information in FDA’s database of animal drug side effects. You also have access to this online database at openFDA.gov. The information in the database is presented as it was reported to FDA. (Note: the information in the database is presented the way it was listed in the reports sent to FDA. The agency hasn’t determined that a particular drug listed in a report necessarily caused the side effects.) 

The agency’s scientists also review all reported side effects of animal drugs to determine if there are trends. If necessary, they will investigate a problem further and possibly work with the drug company to change the drug’s label. Updated labels help veterinarians use drugs more safely and effectively in their patients. 

Veterinarians and pet owners aren’t required to report side effects to the drug company or FDA. However, the more complete the database, the better informed the agency’s scientists are when making safety decisions about a drug. So, please report drug side effects in your pet.

Communication is Key

All drugs have risks and benefits. While your veterinarian is the most qualified source of information about your pet’s drugs and care, Client Information Sheets put helpful information right in your hand. When your veterinarian prescribes a drug 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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