An unknown side effect of the medicine you’re taking could spell disaster for your pet.
Each year the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center receives around 90,000 calls from anxious pet owners whose dog or cat has come in contact with medicines intended for humans.
Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the number one cause of pet poisonings.
As a conscientious pet owner, you’re very aware of poisons and other potential hazards around your home, and you do everything necessary to keep your dog or cat safe and healthy.
What you might not realize is several very common over-the-counter and prescription medications can be highly toxic to your pet.
If your pet ingests any of the following medications, time is your enemy. Do not wait or hesitate to seek help immediately if you suspect your dog or cat has been exposed to one of these drugs.
The Deadly 10
The following human medications are the top 10 offenders when it comes to pet poisonings.
1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
NSAID brand names include:
· Advil · Anaprox · Medipren · Naprelan · Motrin · Naprosyn · Nuprin, · Aleve
Common painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen are the most frequent cause of pet poisonings. You should never give an NSAID meant for humans to your pet. A drug that relieves your pain can do serious damage to your pet’s health.
Your veterinarian may prescribe this type of medication for your dog or cat, but the dose will be very carefully adjusted for your animal’s size and health requirements.
Even if you would never deliberately give your pet an NSAID, these are the kinds of medications most often found lying around the house – on a nightstand, the kitchen counter, a bathroom vanity, or dropped on the floor by mistake.
For your inquisitive cat or floor grazing dog, these seemingly harmless drugs can be a deadly temptation. Some of these medications are coated with sugar, which can be especially appealing to dogs.
Your pet is extremely sensitive to compounds in these medicines and can become very ill from even a small dose. Cats can suffer kidney damage, and any pet that ingests NSAIDs can develop ulcers of the digestive tract.
NSAIDs metabolize slowly, which increases the likelihood toxic levels will build up. Symptoms of poisoning include digestive upset, bloody stool, increased thirst and frequency of urination, staggering and seizures.
This is another extremely common painkiller that can mean serious danger to pets.
Acetaminophen brand names include:
· Tylenol · Paracetamol · Panadol
Other drugs, including certain types of Excedrin and several sinus and cold preparations, also contain acetaminophen. None of the ingredients in these types of medications are a safe for your pet, so your best bet is to keep all human drugs out of the reach of your four-legged family members.
Cats are at particular risk from acetaminophen. This drug breaks down in her liver, and your cat doesn’t have enough of the necessary liver enzymes to complete the job. Acetaminophen can damage red blood cells and compromise your cat’s ability to use oxygen. Just two extra-strength tablets can be fatal to your cat.
If your dog ingests acetaminophen, liver damage can result. And the higher the dose, the more likelihood of red blood cell damage.
Symptoms of acetaminophen poisoning are lethargy, trouble breathing, dark-colored urine, diarrhea and vomiting.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant compound found in a wide range of cold and sinus medications.
Pseudoephedrine has stimulant qualities. In your cat or dog, it will cause a rise in blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Behavioral symptoms include nervousness and hyperactivity. It can also cause seizures.
A tablet containing just 30 mg of pseudoephedrine can cause a small dog to show clinical signs of toxicity. Three 30 mg tablets in the same small dog can prove fatal.
Medications which include pseudoephedrine:
· Sudafed · Tylenol Cold · Entex · Theraflu · Comtrex · Sinarest · Dristan Cold · Triaminicin · Tavist · Drixoral · Contac · Nyquil
This is by no means a comprehensive list, as there are literally dozens of over-the-counter and prescription drugs which contain pseudoephedrine.
If your dog or cat ingests an antidepressant, symptoms can include listlessness, vomiting, and in some cases, a condition known as serotonin syndrome. This syndrome can cause agitation, disorientation, elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, tremors and seizures.
5. Diabetes medications
If you or a family member takes an oral medication for diabetes, including glipizide and glyburide, you’ll want to make sure to keep these drugs out of the reach of your pets.
Anti diabetic drugs can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels of a dog or cat, bringing on disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures.
Brand names of glipizide and glyburide include:
· Glucotrol · Glynase · DiaBeta · Glycron · Micronase · Glucovance
6. Methylphenidate (for ADHD)
The type of drugs used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in humans are stimulants to pets. If your dog or cat ingests methylphenidate it can result in elevated body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, and also seizures.
Brand names for methylphenidate include:
· Ritalin · Concerta · Methylin · Daytrana
7. Vitamin D derivatives
Vitamin D derivatives like calcitriol (Rocaltrol, Calcijex) and calcipotriene (Dovonex), used to treat a wide range of human conditions including psoriasis, thyroid problems, and osteoporosis, can cause fatal blood calcium level spikes in your dog or cat.
Signs of toxicity include loss of appetite, vomiting, increased urination and excessive thirst due to kidney failure.
8. Fluorouracil topical
Just a tiny amount of this drug, used externally to treat actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma and other minor skin cancers, can quickly prove lethal to your dog. Symptoms of poisoning: severe vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest.
Brand names for topical fluorouracil include
· Efudex · Carac · Fluoroplex
Isoniazid, brand name Nydrazid, is a drug used to prevent and treat tuberculosis in humans.
Dogs, in particular, aren’t able to metabolize this medication. Ingesting it can rapidly bring on life-threatening seizures.
The drug baclofen, a muscle relaxant, can damage your dog’s or cat’s central nervous system. Symptoms of ingestion/toxicity include disorientation, vocalization, seizures and coma, which can be fatal.
Brand names for baclofen include:
· Co Baclofen · Kemstro · Lioresal · Liotec · Nu-Baclo
The best way to keep your beloved pets safe from the dangers of ingesting drugs intended for humans is to make a habit of keeping all your medications in sealed containers, preferably in your bathroom medicine cabinet well out of the reach of your dog or cat.
Call your veterinarian, an emergency clinic or a pet poison helpline immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested one of the 10 drugs listed above, or any medication intended only for humans.