In light of the recent over-the-counter medications recall, a nationwide hotline for poisoned pets has listed commonly used people medications that are poisonous to pets.
Accidental overdose from people medications, account for the majority of calls that are received by the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline.
In most situations, a pet has either chewed through a pill bottle, or their well-meaning owners have attempted to give their pets' human medication.
If you ever find yourself in such a situation with your pet, you are advised to immediately contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680 for assistance.
A representative of the Pet Poison Hotline, Dr Justine Lee, states:
"It is important to note that while a medication may be safe for children, it may not be safe for animals. Pets metabolize medications very differently from people. Even seemingly benign over-the-counter or herbal medications may cause serious poisoning in pets."
The most poisonous medications for pets are:
*Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil) - Just one or two can cause ulcers and kidney failure in pets
*Acetaminophen (Tylenol) - One pill can cause liver failure in dogs; in cats it wreaks havoc on their red blood cells, preventing the flow of oxygen causing them to literally suffocate quickly. An antidote MUST be administered by a veterinarian in order to save your pet's life.
*Anti-depressants (Prozac, Cymbalta) - Even though these drugs are sometimes prescribed for high-strung pets, an accidental overdose can cause seizures and tremors
*Prescription sleeping pills (Ambien, Xanax)
* ADD/ADHD medications (Ritalin)
*Birth control pills
*Cholesterol lowering agents (Lipitor, Crestor)
Remember: Pets should never be given any human medication before talking with your veterinarian first.
Cats, dogs and other pets have a very unique physiology than people. What may work for us does not mean that it will also work for our pets.
On the other hand, not every human medication is bad for pets. Most veterinary medicines do have a human counterpart. The difference lies in the dosage. For example, diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a human medication that can be safely used in pets. However, the dosage for cats and dogs is 1-2mg per pound; this means that a dog weighing about 50lbs needs a dosage of 50-100mg! Try taking that amount and see how what happens!
Other human medications safe for pets are:
*Buffered Aspirin (Bufferin)
This can be given to treat inflammation, fever and pain in dogs. The dosage for dogs is 5-12.5mg per pound every 12 hours, i.e. a regular 325mg tablet is safe for a 50-60lb dog. It is not advisable to give this to cats as the amount they need is much lower and at frequent dosage intervals. Side effects consist of an upset stomach and decreased blood clotting.
Primarily used to treat diarrhea, it is safe for both cats and dogs, with the dosage being 0.5-1 mg per pound every 4-6 hours. However, avoid brands containing salicylates, as these are extremely harmful to cats. The major side effect is constipation.
Given that the original formula is sometimes hard to find, it is best to have a bottle of Feline Plantaeris on hand for your cat instead. It is an herbal formulation that works to regulate your cat's intestinal functions, whilst simultaneously boosting their immune system.
*Chlorpheniramine (Aller-Chlor, Chlor-Trimeton)
For those pets suffering from sinus allergies, this is a good antihistamine. The recommended dosage is half to one tablet every 12 hours for cats and 1-2 tablets every 8-12 hours for dogs, with a maximum dosage of 0.25 mg per pound for dogs. Drowsiness is a common side effect.
The herbal equivalent is Feline Stimmune and Canine Stimmune, which helps treat a pet's allergies by stimulating their immune system. Unlike Chlorpheniramine, Stimmune has NO side effects and is safe for long-term use.
Keep in mind that for almost every medication, there is an herbal equivalent that is much safer for pets!
Photo Credit: Amanda M Hatfield