Long Acting Pet Medications – What You Need to Know

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2019-08-21T15:54:03-04:00Updated: March 21st, 2018|Pet Care, Pet Diabetes, Pet Newsletter|3 Comments
  • Cat Recieving a Shot

The other day a friend asked me if the 2 week antibiotic injection her veterinarian gave to her cat was “safe”. What a great question. Today, let’s chat about long acting pet medications.

As a veterinarian I often envy patient compliance that medical doctors take for granted. An MD tells a patient to take a medication and more often than not, the person takes the medication, for the full prescribed time period, just as the MD prescribed. When a veterinarian tells a client to give a medication to his or her pet, we have potential failure for a couple reasons. The human may forget to give the pet medications altogether or may not give the meds at the proper dosing schedule if the human is away from the pet. Then we need to consider if the pet is compliant. Most pets are easy to medicate. And yet there are some who are extremely difficult to medicate. I can medicate most any animal, but I’ve met a few who I could not medicate. At all. Some pets become all out land sharks when you try to pop a pill down the hatch. Or, some may foam as if rabid when we try to give liquid medication.

What options do we have when we find ourselves incapable of medicating a critter? What if Fluffy refuses to swallow a tablet? We look for alternative methods to get the treatment into Fluffy. Sometimes we may choose a topical cream. Sometimes we choose a liquid over a tablet or capsule. Sometimes we compound the medication into a tasty chew such as a greenies pill pocket or hide it in food. And sometimes we choose to inject it into the animal. If we choose an injection we must give the medication once or several times per day. Short of teaching pet owners to give injections, this option involves numerous visits to the vet clinic.

So in addition to ensured client (human) compliance with a long lasting medication, we also avoid the struggle when a pet is non-compliant. Veterinarians have come up with several medications that are long lasting. I’m going to speak of a few common ones today.

Ear Pet Medications

When treating ear infections, I feel that I’ve been squawking at my clients for decades to clean and medicate the ears every day. Client compliance for medicating ears is usually pretty crummy… They may treat for a few days then stop. This lack of compliance is usually due to the pet’s discomfort and from the pet owner not wanting to be the bad guy. Regardless, people often fail with appropriate treatment. The failure rate for properly treating ear infections can be high.

For years I’ve known vets who compound topical ear meds that last for a week. I personally like having FDA approval for any pet medications I use for my veterinary patients. This hasn’t always been an option. If there is an FDA approved option I typically steer clear of non FDA approved pet medicatons. In recent years there are 2 FDA approved long-lasting ear medicationss for dogs.

Osurnia came out first and lasts for one week. Claro came out next and it lasts for one month. Both of these medications are a combination of an antibiotic, an anti-fungal and an anti-inflammatory. These medications require a thorough ear cleaning before instilling the product into the dog’s ear. Then you leave the ear alone for that period of time. I’ve carried both in my clinic, but I prefer Claro over the Osurnia. Each of these products contains a steroid, so they would not be a good choice for a diabetic pet. And as any medication containing a steroid, there could be side effects from the steroids. It is important that clients take the pet back to the vet clinic for a follow up examination at the end of the treatment period. I have numerous ear medications on my pharmacy shelf, but I like Claro quite well.


Convenia is a long acting antibiotic. It lasts for 2 weeks. It is a 3rd generation cephalosporin. It is approved for use in both dogs and cats. It’s called Convenia because it is convenient.

I don’t use it very often in dogs as most folks can give oral medications to their pooch with relative ease. Cats, well, that’s another story. I practice in South Florida, and it’s not uncommon for me to have an elderly client who cannot give oral medications to a cat. Even the friendliest of felines can be difficult for a senior citizen to orally medicate. Common indications for Convenia would be a cat bite wound, a urinary tract infection, or a skin infection. I prefer giving oral antibiotics, but understand that some of my clients are physically incapable for medicating a cat. And some cats become feisty tigers when it comes to medications.

I do believe that Convenia is an overused medication. The danger of giving a long lasting medication is that you cannot take it away once injected into the body. And there are known side effects to this antibiotic just as there are for many medications. I like to think of it as a niche drug, a drug for use when an owner can’t give medications due to the owner’s physical incapacity or due to the pet’s fractious or uncooperative demeanor. I’ve treated one cat (an very, very grouchy cat with a cat bite abscess) where there was no chance that his owner could give him antibiotic by mouth. The cat became mildly anemic after receiving an injection of Convenia. I don’t know if this mild anemia was a reaction to the Convenia injection or from the illness, but it resolved and the cat improved. Anemia is a known potential side effect to Convenia. It’s rare, but it can happen. The most common side effect is mild tummy upset. Again, this is uncommon, but it can occur. Rarely, a pet may experience an increase in liver or kidney values after Convenia. It is a drug that fits a niche, and should be primarily used when the owner cannot medicate their pet with oral pet medications.


Again, I’m writing to diabetic pet owners, so I must warn against steroids for diabetic pets. Steroids are notorious for causing insulin resistance. If you have a diabetic pet, please avoid steroids unless there is no other treatment option.

We use steroids frequently for veterinary patients. The most common indication for steroids in veterinary medicine is for allergy pets, but we may use them in inflammatory conditions or immune mediated conditions. Regardless, we hope to use them for the shortest amount of time and the least systemic fashion possible. For example, if I can get away with a steroid cream rather than give an oral steroid, I will. If a pet owner cannot give a pet a pill (as we discussed above for convenia) we may reach for an injection. Some steroid injections last for as little as 1 or 3 days, while some last for 2 or 3 weeks. We very much wish to avoid these long lasting injections if we can use oral steroids or other treatment options. Nonetheless, occasionally veterinarians will give long lasting steroid injections.

As always, chat with your Veterinarian and let them guide you!

Have a question or comment? Then post below! I always enjoy hearing from my readers!

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.

About the Author: Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida. Connect with Dr. Joi on LinkedIn


  1. Cat March 22, 2018 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    =/ Convienia was cheaper at my vet. I asked for the pills once it was $20 more. What’s your thoughts on otc UTI relief products instead of spending every paycheck on a doctors visit?

    My kitty gets stress related utis especially since we adopted a kitten. The kitten pounces on her often and it stresses her out which causes her feline idiopathic cystitis to flair up. Shes already on the c/d hills diet for urinary and stress.

    • Dr . Joi Sutton March 24, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      Idiopathic cysticitis is often sterile. The trick is deteminining if the cystitis is inflammatory or bacterial. If inflammatory, then we treat with anti-inflammatories and pain k8llers such as narcotics. I also use my therapeutic laser to give my cystitis patients pain relief. I’m glad you have her on a urinary diet. Anxiety meds such as pheromones (which are over the counter) may help her.

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