photo of IndeVet Andrew examining a dogs ear
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Words by:
Lindsay Wolcott, BVMS — Associate IndeVet

Every few months, the FDA sends out updates on additions to drug approvals, conditional approvals, and new approvals. I’m assuming most of you don’t have time to read them, so I’ve done the tedious job of reading and distilling the significant bits for you.   

*Please be aware this list only covers the past few months of updates, is not exhaustive, and was selected for small animal medicine relevancy.   

** Disclaimer: I do not receive any compensation for mentioning any product listed below.  


1) Tick prevention updates:  

If you have been paying attention to the news this summer, you might have heard that a new parasite, the Asian Longhorned Tick, has been found in the US. It is considered an invasive pest and can transmit tick-borne diseases. This species is tiny and will be hard to find on your pets.  

As a new species, it needs to be determined how many of our current prevention products are protective. Bravecto and Bravecto Plus for cats are the first to be cleared by the FDA for prevention against this new pest. Hopefully, the rest of the tick-prevention products are being tested now, and we will have more approvals in the next few months.   

Additionally, Simparica and Simparica Trio® are now labeled “for the prevention of Borrelia burgdorferi infections as a direct result of killing Ixodes scapularis vector ticks and for the treatment and control of L4 and immature adult Ancylostoma caninum,” per the FDA. That gives us another approved product against Lyme disease, the other being Nexgard®.  

2) Pain control for cats:  

Zorbium® (buprenorphine transdermal solution) is a new topical pain management product from Elanco labeled for postoperative pain control in cats. It is applied one hour before the procedure and lasts four days. It comes in two tube sizes and is dosed by weight. This topical product is applied to the skin at the base of the neck, like topical flea and heartworm products, and dries in 30 minutes. It is crucial that humans do not touch the drug in its wet form. Proper PPE must be worn when applying. IT IS NOT TO BE SENT HOME WITH THE OWNER. It must be applied in the hospital and recorded according to each state’s DEA protocols for logging purposes. Please remind owners that the cat may be sedated-looking for a few days. Zorbium® is a great alternative to sending home oral Onsior® or oral buprenorphine. There are some considerations regarding premedication protocols. Please talk to your local rep for more information.  

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3) New sedation drug:  

Zenalpha® (medetomidine and vatinoxan hydrochlorides injection) is a new combination sedation drug used as a sedative and analgesic in dogs to “facilitate clinical examination, clinical procedures, and minor surgical procedures,” as per their website. The labeling is for IM sedation lasting, on average, 38 minutes. Dosing is by body surface area, but they provide a handy dosing chart based on weight. This product has a smoother induction and recovery and fewer cardiovascular side effects than the standard dexmedetomidine and butorphanol combination. The mean heart rate with Zenalpha® is 75bpm and is reversible if you choose/need it to be. It is indicated for healthy dogs only. Do not use this product on cats. I’ve seen this used in practice and am keen to try it myself. Zenalpha® is handy for minor laceration repairs and bandage changes, as well as for examinations and handing for diagnostics on very stressed or aggressive pets, etc. 

4) Cancer treatment:  

Laverdia-CA1® has conditional approval for lymphoma treatment in dogs. I wrote about this earlier this year in my AVMA blog, but I wanted to mention it again since it is still relatively new. Laverdia-CA1® is an at-home cancer treatment and is relatively affordable. Owners give pills based on weight 3-4 days a week. It’s not as cheap as prednisone, but it is a more targeted approach for treatment, especially if clients can’t get to or are waiting for an oncology consult. Contact your Dechra rep for ordering.  

5) Thyro-tabs dosing update:  

There is now a once-a-day dosing of levothyroxine for hypothyroid dogs. This currently ONLY applies to branded Thyro-tabs®. The bottles will have the following information and a bright yellow sticker on the lid indicating that this product can be given once a day. Per the FDA, “the initial total daily dose is 0.1 mg/10 pounds (0.01 mg/lb; 0.022 mg/kg) body weight as a single dose every 24 hours or as a divided dose every 12 hours. Continue to monitor the serum total thyroxine (TT4) concentrations 4 to 6 hours post-tablet administration, along with clinical response, of the dog every 4 to 8 weeks until an adequate maintenance dose is established as before.” These tablets can be given with or without food. Hopefully, once-a-day dosing will help with owner compliance at home. 

For more detailed information on any product, please see their respective websites or contact your local reps. Til next time!

Lindsay Wolcott, BVMS is an Associate IndeVet practicing in South Carolina.


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