Aug 11 2015

The scoop on Over-the Counter medications


In a world where there is a pharmacy on every street corner, acquiring over the counter (OTC) medication is as easy as pie.  It gives us the option to quickly treat our symptoms and find relief.  So, when your loveable four legged pal comes limping through the door, it can be tempting to give them a human medication to alleviate the pain.  What starts off as a good intentioned act of love can turn into a disaster quickly.

Of all the calls the Pet Poison Control Center takes, the top toxin reported is human medication.  Aside from owners giving their pets OTC medication, pets can be sneaky about acquiring prescription meds as well.  Leaving a bottle out on the counter is an open invitation for your playful cat or your counter-surfing pooch.  Sometimes a pill is dropped on the floor unknowingly.  Your furry friend has a nose that will sniff it out and give it a taste.  For these reasons, ALL medications should be closed and stored out of reach of curious paws and snouts.

A very common OTC medication is a class of drug called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).  These are very dangerous and easily fatal for pets.  These medications are found in nearly every home.  Some of the drugs in this category include acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve), aspirin, and ibuprofen (Advil).  As reasonable as it may seem to reduce the dose and give it to your pal… DON’T!

While NSAIDs may be safe for you, they’re not for your pet.  A single pill can cause harm as pets do not metabolize the medication in the same way.  This leads to stomach ulcers/perforations, and toxic chemicals traveling through the body that can cause kidney failure, liver failure, and even keep the blood from being able to carry oxygen. It is important to note that Pepto-Bismol contains bismuth salicylate, which is similar to aspirin and can cause the same issues in cats and dogs.

OTC herbal and other natural supplements should not be assumed as “safe” for pets because they are “natural”.  This is not the case and some can be toxic or even lethal to your pet.   For example, undiluted tea tree essential oil is extremely poisonous to cats and dogs.  Ma Huang (more commonly known as Ephedra) can cause high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias.

If you know your pet has ingested any of these OTC drugs, it is important to get them to the vet immediately.  Waiting too long will allow the medications to begin to absorb and poison them.  When this happens, aggressive treatment is needed and is not always successful.

If you are considering giving your pet an OTC medication, please give us a call to discuss it first!


-the team at VAC-

Jo Fleming RVT, CVPM | Uncategorized

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