What is Transdermal Medicine?

What is Transdermal Medicine?

Transdermal medicine consists of drugs that are administered through patches applied to a shaved area of the skin. They work by the medicine reaching the bloodstream “transdermally,” meaning, “across the skin.” This option is popular for people who want to relieve pain, quit smoking or to replace the hormones of their youth. It has also have been popular for administering drugs to pets as well.

What Transdermal Medications Are Available for Pets?

Fentanyl has been commonly used in domestic species, such as dogs, cats, and horses to help with pain management. Other medications that are administered transdermally include methimazole to treat feline hyperthyroidism and the antidepressant amitriptyline to lower urinary tract diseases and to help treat behavior problems.

How Effective Are Transdermal Medications?

There are many factors that determine if this outlet for medication is effective—these include the type of drug and what condition is being treated. Since this method only works with medications that can be absorbed through the skin and used by the body, the effectiveness depends upon where on the body the patch is placed as well as the breed and skin type. In essence, transdermal patches should be used when oral- or injection-based medications are either not as effective or it’s not possible to administer them.

What Are the Benefits of Effective Transdermal Therapy?

Transdermal medications can eliminate the need for daily pills. Pets are not partial to orally having things shoved down their throat, and this helps ease the stress on the animal as well as the pet owner—cornering a pet and forcibly opening their mouth is not a good experience for both parties.

For dogs that will be undergoing surgery, veterinarians can use a fentanyl patch prior to and after surgery to help reduce pain. The patch can minimize the quantity of anesthesia and injectable drugs required, and rather than having to stay in the hospital for injections and recovery, canines may be able to go home sooner with a fentanyl patch.

Is There Any Danger in Using Transdermal Medications?

The risk of using a transdermal patch include it falling off and either getting stuck to a human or pet or being swallowed by an animal. A bandage wrap around the patch can help minimize this risk.


If you have any further questions about transdermal medicine, please contact us at 907-479-0001.