Addicts hurting pets to get pain reliever given to animals, vets say

SLINGERLANDS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Reports claim addicts have begun hurting their pets to get ahold of a pain killer given to pets with arthritis.

Veterinarians at The Animal Hospital in Slingerlands said they don’t carry the drug Tramadol in-house because they’re worried addicts will use it for themselves instead of their pets.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration declared Tramadol a controlled substance three years ago. Since then, the commonly used pain medication for pets with arthritis became available only as a prescription at pharmacies.

“There’s unfortunately always the risk of abuse with any of these medications, and it’s a sad reality we have to be aware of,” veterinarian Lexi Becker said.

Dr. Becker said she’s heard of cases where owners will purposely hurt their pets to trick vets into thinking Tramadol is needed to treat the animal. But in reality, the owners are the ones using it.

The price tag of the drug is cheaper than the opioid oxycodone, which has made Tramadol a more satisfying choice.

“There’s a new regulation that came out in January of this year for New York State that basically restricts how long you can prescribe it initially, so there’s only a seven-day course that you can initially prescribe,” Becker said.

Dr. Becker said certain precautions are taken when prescribing Tramadol. A red flag is raised if the owner calls asking for a refill quicker than expected.

“We are very, very strict about following the rules as to how quickly they can have a refill,” she said. “We will only give certain amounts of refills. We’ll only give how much the patient should be receiving.”

While there are no suspicious cases in the Capital Region, veterinarians said the abuse of Tramadol has been going on for a while.

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