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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.
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.
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