Nearly half the calls to the Pet Poison Hotline involve pets who have ingested over-the-counter or prescription drugs for humans.
In some cases, the pet got into the pill bottle or daily dose holder on its own. In others, a well-meaning owner deliberately gave the drug to the pet to relieve pain, nausea or other symptoms. Owners who store their pets’ prescription medicines next to their human family members’ prescriptions sometimes pick up the wrong bottle and accidentally give the pet a dose of a drug prescribed for a human in the household.
And pet owners sometimes use a drug prescribed for one pet to treat another. This is especially risky when using a drug prescribed for a dog to treat a cat.
Surprisingly dangerous are common over-the-counter pain relievers, including non-sterioidal anti-inflammatories–NSAIDS–such as Aleve, Advil and Motrin, and acetaminophen–the active ingredient in Tylenol. Even one or two pills can be seriously damaging and even deadly for pets.
For a top-ten list of medicines for humans and their damaging effects on pets, visit the Pet Poison Helpline. There’s also a brief video on the page with additional pointers and safeguards you can take to protect your pet.
Although aspirin is not on the Poison Helpline’s top-ten list, treating your pet with aspirin before coming in for an office visit can delay treatment with a more effective drug because we have to wait for the aspirin to clear the pet’s system before starting the appropriate drug. In these cases, using aspirin as a “home remedy” in hopes of avoiding an office visit keeps your pet in pain longer and slows recovery.
Before using a drug intended for humans to treat your pet, call our office to confirm it is safe and effective and to determine the proper dosage.
If you discover your pet has ingested a drug meant for humans on its own, and it’s during our office hours, call us immediately. We need to know the name of the drug, the dosage and how many pills you believe your pet has swallowed. We may have you bring your pet in right away, or we may refer you to an emergency clinic. We may have you call the Pet Poison Helpline, or we may call on your behalf to consult with the toxicologists on the most effective treatment.
After hours, call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 and be prepared for a trip to the emergency clinic.