People’s Pharmacy: Voltaren gel almost killed a cat

By Joe Graedon, MS,

and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.

King Features Syndicate

Q. At the beginning of the pandemic, my doctor prescribed Voltaren gel for arthritis in my thumbs and wrists. I used it for three weeks and it really helped.

Then one day our cat was wrong, behaved listlessly and did not eat. We took her to the vet and found that her creatinine was over 3 and her BUN was over 100. She was close to death.

The year before, all of her blood counts were normal. The vets couldn’t understand how this could change so much in less than a year.

She spent five days in the hospital and received subcutaneous fluids regularly for six months. Her kidney function eventually returned to normal, but all of that care cost about $ 4,000.

What happened was that Voltaren gel got off my skin on her fur when I stroked her. Then she groomed herself, which meant she was on the drug. I found an article about it in a veterinary magazine, but our vets had never heard of it.

Now that Voltaren Arthritis Topical Gel is available over the counter, your pet readers may want to know more about this effect on animals.

A. Thank you for sharing your story. We’re relieved to hear that your cat has recovered. Cats are very sensitive to NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac (Voltaren). Additionally, our veterinary advisers warn that dogs and cats can get into trouble if they lick certain topical medications, including hormones, corticosteroids, or minoxidil, off their owners’ skin.

In addition to topical NSAIDs, to keep your cat safe, consider other options for managing your arthritis pain. In our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis we discuss several home remedies along with herbs like Ashwagandha, Boswellia, Turmeric, Ginger, Nettle, MSM and SAMe.

This online resource can be found under the Health eGuides tab on our website peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. Earlier this year you wrote about granuloma annulare. I didn’t know what it was, but I’ve experienced many skin conditions over the years.

I find that using Selsun Blue Shampoo with Selenium Sulphide 1% as a body wash is very helpful. It instantly relieves itching and dries out rashes. At some point the skin problem will go away.

The skin is our largest organ. It sweats, expels, and reflects what goes into the body, so eating right is also important.

A. We found no research to suggest that granuloma annulare would respond to Selsun Blue. The ingredient in this dandruff shampoo (selenium sulfide) may help relieve the itching and flaking associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

Other readers have used it to treat rosacea, eczema, and jock itch. Doctors don’t know what causes GA. These round, raised, and reddish spots are not contagious.

Some people tell us that Vagisil with resorcinol is helpful for vaginal yeast infections with GA as well. Dermatologists don’t have standard treatment, but pentoxifylline, a drug for peripheral arterial disease, shows promise (Journal of Dermatological Treatment, June).

You are right that diet can play a role. Sometimes GA is associated with diabetes. Japanese doctors also reported success in a patient who followed a strict lipid-lowering diet (Dermatology Practical & Conceptual, January 31, 2014).

Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters to the editor in their column. Write to them at King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them through their website, peoplespharmacy.com.