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Medically Treating Your Pet

I received an e-mail from a pet owner who had recently lost their pet after the pet was treated with the drug Bedinvetmab, sold under the brand name Librela. Bedinvetmab is a canine monoclonal antibody used for the control of pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs. He urged me to inform my readers about the dangers of this product. I have no first-hand knowledge of this drug or its effects, so I will provide you with what I have found online after researching the drug.

Per the FDA website (https://www. fda.gov/animal-veterinary/cvm-updates/fda-approves-first-monoclonal-antibody-dogs-osteoarthritis-pain), as of May 5, 2023:
“Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Ad- ministration approved Librela (bedinvetmab injection) for the control of pain associated with osteoarthritis (OA) in dogs. Librela is the first monoclonal antibody (mAb) the FDA has approved for use in dogs. The FDA approved a mAb for cats on January 13, 2022, which was the first mAb new animal drug approved by the FDA for use in any animal species and the first treatment for the control of pain associated with OA in cats.”

There is a petition to recall the drug, but I cannot confirm that the drug has been recalled. I do feel for the pet owner’s loss, and the drug very well could have been responsible for the pet’s passing. However, it would be best if you also kept in mind that this drug is typically used on senior animals with osteoarthritis who are approaching the end of life. The average life expectancy of a dog, depending on their size, is 10-14 years of age. Some dogs will live to eighteen or even to their early twenties, but this is a very rare occurrence. A 13-year-old dog is equal to a 91-year-old human.

My twelve-year-old dog Max suffered from extreme arthritis, and we had to help him crossover because we did not want to see him suffer any longer. If I had asked my vet to administer a drug that was intended to help Max deal with his pain from arthritis, and a month later, he developed issues with one or more of his organs, I guess I could blame his decline on the drug. I would have been reaching for a miracle to save Max at this stage, so if the drug had bought him even just a few more weeks pain-free, I would have been grateful. The drug may have added to Max’s decline, or he was going to die no matter what I did to prolong his life.

If a pet owner is going to solicit the assistance of their veterinarian and the veterinarian offers some new drug solutions that are FDA-approved, then you must perform your own due diligence and research the drugs for issues and side effects before agreeing to the use of the medications on your pet.

I have read some reviews for this specific drug, and some people rave about its positive effects, while others claim it is not a good treatment, especially for senior dogs. Many drugs, including human-grade prescriptions, have side effects that are harmful to other parts of the body. My sister-in-law took a daily dose of a popular OTC painkiller, and her doctors felt her overuse of this drug caused her permanent deafness.

As to the side effects of Librela, the FDA states, “The most common side effects seen in dogs treated with Librela included increased blood urea nitrogen (an indicator of kidney function), urinary tract infection, bacterial skin infection, skin irritation (dermatitis), rash (erythema) or pain at the injection site, vomiting (emesis), and weight loss (anorexia).”
All drugs have possible side effects. Here is the list of aspirin’s side effects, which millions of people take. Abdominal or stomach pain, cramping, burning, bloody or cloudy urine, change in consciousness, chest pain or discomfort, constipation, convulsions, severe or continuing, decreased frequency or amount of urine, difficulty breathing. Aspirin can also have very serious side effects, such as bleeding in the brain or stomach or kidney failure. If a 94-year-old man took aspirin and then died a week later due to cardiac arrest, is his widow going to blame the aspirin or accept the fact that her husband was 94 and lived a very long life? How many of us pay attention to the side effects warnings? We all think, “That might happen to other people but not me,” until it happens to us, or in this case, our pets.

Again, I am very sorry for the loss of a pet that all animal lovers must endure when our best friends leave us. Like us, they don’t last forever. None of us get out of here alive, so enjoy your pets as much as possible. Spend as much time with them before they are ready to leave you. Trying to save them from passing is admirable and heartfelt, but we sometimes do this because we can’t accept losing them. We must consider what they are going through and what is best for them, not for us.

Be aware of the risks of any medicine, and make your decisions to utilize the drugs accordingly.

Please adopt, don’t shop, and support your local animal shelters.

Barry KuKes is the former Community Outreach Director of Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at bkukes@gmail.com View more of his work at minicooperproductions.com