I am not exactly sure how this got started, but the long acting antibiotic Convenia is the latest veterinary medical sensational tale of conspiracy, cover up, and mass hysteria. It seems that is traces back to an actual veterinarian and author of a blog and website called catinfo.org, named Dr. Lisa Pierson, who wrote an article called “Convenia, Worth The Risk?” In this article, she writes of the dire consequences of adverse reaction to the antibiotic Convenia due to its long acting properties that keep it active in tissues for a prolonged period of time.
Convenia was launched by Pfizer Animal Health (now Zoetis) in 2008 as the only antibiotic of its kind: a one-time injection that exerts its antibacterial effects for up to 14 days, effectively eliminating the need for owners to have to orally medicate cats and dogs sick with infections. In a class of antibiotics called third generation cephalosporins, effective against bacteria that commonly cause skin infections, upper respiratory infections, and urinary bladder infections, Convenia also had impressive FDA safety data.
Most importantly, it promised veterinarians something was very infrequently get…100% owner compliance with treatment. Compliance is the veterinarian’s single greatest challenge to effectively managing disease in dogs and cats. Poor compliance is sometimes the fault of the owner, such as forgetting to administer a dose here or there, or my favorite, stopping treatment the moment the pet seems better, to stash the rest of the antibiotic left over to use another day should the pet become sick again (and they can avoid the inconvenience and expense of another vet visit). Compliance issues are often not the fault of the owner, with pets (namely cats and small dogs) that can be very difficult to orally medicate, or get GI upset from the administration of oral antibiotics.
Many veterinarians have used Convenia for over 7 years with not only excellent success rates due to a wide spectrum of antibacterial coverage and the elimination of owner compliance issues, but also very good safety. In all of these years, I have only seen one case of an adverse side effect that is possibly attributable to Convenia administration: a cat I was treating for cystitis that became a bit listless and lethargic for a couple of days after the injection. The question remained, however, was it from the Convenia, or was the cat simply lethargic from his disease and it took 3 days of Convenia therapy to begin to make him feel better? Since I could not prove it one way or the other, I put a “No Convenia” alert on this patient’s medical account, since I do not deem it wise to tempt fate and use it on him again.
For the 10’s of 1000’s of other injections I have administered since its inception, Convenia has proved very safe. My veterinary colleagues both locally and around the country have had a similar experience. In direct answer the question posed by the title of Dr. Pierson’s article, “Convenia, Is It Worth The Risk?” My answer with one having only experienced one non-serious side effect (and questionably linked to Convenia) noted in 7 plus years of use and thousands of injections administered, absolutely!
Reading on in Dr. Pierson’s website, I also see that she is against therapeutic diets, integral tools for the management of kidney failure, pancreatic, liver, and other chronic diseases in dogs and cats. This and several other articles I read on her website from my perspective significantly question her opinions and credibility.
However, the word is out, and the damage is done. Dr. Pierson being an actual veterinarian is making this particular wave of misinformation particularly difficult to refute, with an antibiotic that is particularly important in veterinary medicine for the management of infections in dogs and cats. To many pet owners, Convenia is now the devil, and more a tool of sickness and death that it is an important therapeutic tool for veterinary patients. Please see my next article below read about two troubling cases I recently managed that dealt with the aftermath of current unsubstantiated anti-Convenia sentiments.
Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL, Chief Editor of the Veterinary Advice and Information Website, Web-DVM, and founder/CEO of Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.