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You are a fantastic pet parent. Your fur babies are always clean, well groomed, well feed, and loved. So when a pet family member becomes sick or injured, you want to make them feel better ASAP, just as you would want for your children. It’s only a swollen paw — I can give my animal kids a pain killer from my home medicine cabinet, right? As easy as it would be to reach for a people pill, it’s not such a good idea. In fact, you can end up causing more problems for pets.

There are other ways pets can get their mitts on human meds, like if you leave a bottle of headache pills or a prescription medication out on the table where pets can reach, or you unknowingly drop a pill on the floor and your dog sniffs it out and eats it. Both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs can potentially be dangerous to our animal friends, therefore, we must take care in securing all medications at home and refrain from giving without consulting a veterinarian. In no particular order, here are five common human medications that are dangerous to pets:


This common household medication called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are ibuprofen and naproxen meds like Motrin, Advil, Aleve, and Naprosyn. These medications are safe for people, but a single pill or more can cause serious harm to pets. Smaller type animals including dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, and hamsters may develop very serious stomach and intestinal ulcers, even kidney failure. “The only pain pill we ever recommend is aspirin,” says Dr. Justine Lee, associate director of veterinary services at the Pet Poison Hotline.

2. Acetaminophen

Tylenol, a popular type of pain medication containing acetaminophen, has been around for a long time, trusted by generations. While acetaminophen is generally safe for children and adults, it is not for pets. Even the smallest amount of this med ingested by a cat can cause damage to red blood cells, which leads to the inability to carry life needing oxygen. In large doses, dogs can also suffer from red blood cell damage as well as liver failure.

3. Benzodiazepines and Sleep Aids

Is your pet having trouble sleeping or seem panicky? Do not give them human medications like Xanax, Ambien, and Lunesta, which are made to reduce anxiety and help people to sleep better. Pets may experience completely reverse effects. Dogs appear to be agitated and wired after ingesting sleep aids, and cats could go into liver failure when certain forms of benzodiazepines are ingested. These drugs can also cause lethargy, disoriented walking, and labored breathing in pets.

4. Cholesterol Drugs

With label names such as Crestor and Lipitor, cholesterol medications are typically not prescribed to pets, but pets can find a way into your pill bottle. Fortunately, if a pet swallows these meds, they will likely only experience mild vomiting or diarrhea. But still, keep drugs out of reach as serious side effects from these drugs can come around in cases of frequent use or ingestion.

5. Antidepressants

Antidepressants must only be prescribed to pets by a professional. A single pill has the power to cause poisoning related illness or death. Pets overdosing on people antidepressants, like Cymbalta and Prozac, can lead to serious neurological problems including seizures and varying degrees of tremors and elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

These are just five common human medications dangerous to give to pets or for pets to ingest. You must remember that any people medication purposely or accidentally ingested in little to excess can pose potential harm or even death to your pet.

If you know or believe your beloved pet has consumed any type of over-the-counter medication, contact your veterinarian immediately. There are also national poison control hotlines you can call with people who are ready to help you in such an emergency.

Image source: Fiona McAllister/Flickr

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13 comments on “5 Common Human Medications That are Dangerous to Pets”

Click to add comment
Shweta Gurjar
1 Years Ago

I can't imagine anyone would feed their pets human medications. Please don't! There are many natural therapies out there...

Deb Chowning Thomas
4 Years Ago

You did not mention decongestants. Dogs can have a Zyrtec or Benedryl if needed for an allergic reaction, but Never with a D. One decongestant can kill a dog.

Matty Curnow
4 Years Ago

Who the fuck is giving there pets Xanax. we seriously gotta start removing warning labels to cull the populations of these morons.

Metin Yılmaz
4 Years Ago

Hülya Aydın

Ashley Suszczewicz
4 Years Ago

But most people are stupid lol

Ashley Suszczewicz
4 Years Ago

I assumed these were all common sense.

Adam Young
4 Years Ago

Who the fuck is feeding their pets human meds anyway?!

Lance C. Braun
15 Jun 2014

People who can't afford to take their pets to the vet and think the eqivialent meds will help their pets the same way they help humans.

Jody Bennett
4 Years Ago

Must take care with aspirin too. Often messes up your treatment plan if the client has already given aspirin. They have very often given the wrong dose, we then are much more limited (wrong dose or not) with the use of certain other drugs (that may be life saving), or even the use of "pet safe" NSAIDs because doubling up can greatly increase the risk of side effects. Can also increase bleeding if surgery is indicated. Also, there are just times when this type of treatment is plain inappropriate and will do more harm than good. Pets are much more sensitive to the side effects of NSAIDs than humans--this may be a partial overstatement in that pets will very often not show signs of a problem until things are much more severe that when a human would pipe up. Treating pets at home is very difficult (and often dangerous to the pet) without a veterinarian's guidance as pets often hide illness very very well (so are much sicker than they seem when they do start to show signs), very often show the same or similar symptoms for very different problems and cannot tell us directly how they are feeling. This veterinarian's 2 cents. :):)

Jodi King
4 Years Ago

Jade Tassyn Futter Troy Ashton Futter

Julianna Perkins
4 Years Ago

Debbie Girten


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