7 Human Medications that are Poisonous to Dogs and Cats
Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) have revolutionized the way pain is treated in both human and veterinary medicine. Animals like dogs and cats tend to be exquisitely sensitive to these medications, and the dosages that we routinely pop into our mouths can easily cause toxicity in pets. Even one tablet of Advil, which contains 200 milligrams, is toxic to a small dog, and the effects worsen as the number of doses given increase. Other NSAIDs, including naproxen, Motrin (which is also ibuprofen, like Advil) and aspirin, have toxic effects of varying degrees.
Toxic effects can be as mild as a bit of vomiting or diarrhea, or as bad as ulcerations and perforations of the GI tract ans severe kidney damage. There are a number of very effective NSAIDs that have been developed for and used extensively in animals, and your veterinarian can help you get them.
Tylenol, also known as acetaminophen, is also toxic to animals at typical human doses. It’s especially toxic to cats, and can create an especially dire situation that ultimately destroys red blood cells and causes sever liver failure and often death. Dogs can tolerate Tylenol a bit better than cats, but it’s easy to give too much, and again, there are much better and much safer medications that should be used instead.
Diaper Rash Cream
Topical medications can be dangerous when used on pets, even when they’re apparently and inherently innocuous, like diaper cream. Why? Because animals will lick pretty much anything that’s applied to their skin, if they can reach it. Diaper rash cream often contains zinc oxide, which helps to heal skin by providing a barrier from further irritation.
That’s great, and using zinc oxide on your pet’s skin to heal it may actually work, but if your pet ingests it, its likely to cause pretty severe gastrointestinal irritation, which will likely make your pet have vomiting and diarrhea.
Many people will reach for Imodium AD (the generic name is loperamide when they have a bit diarrhea, and they figure it can’t hurt when they see the same in their pets. Imodium is occasionally used to treat diarrhea in dogs and cats, but it should be used cautiously, and there are a couple of good reasons why.
Imodium is an opioid – like morphine, although much weaker in terms of sedative and pain-relieving properties – and one of the side effects of all opioid drugs is that they slow down the normal movement of the gastrointestinal tract by increasing absorption of fluids from the intestines. It’s probably pretty obvious why this helps with diarrhea, but if the diarrhea is caused by something infectious, like parvovirus or salmonella, this increased absorption may translocate these harmful bacteria from the intestines, where they were already a pretty big problem, to the bloodstream, where they will for sure be a major problem.
Another reason is that giving anything that masks the symptoms of the disease may ultimately confound making an accurate diagnosis and truly treating the problem definitively. And finally, loperamide can cause neurotoxicity in dogs that have a specific gene mutation that can be seen in any dog, but is more common in herding breeds, like Australian Shepherds and Shelties.
Human cough medications often contain a drug called dextromethorphan. Once again, this drug has been used in animals at very low doses, but can cause toxicity. Signs of toxicity include hallucination, tremors, shaking, increased salivation, seizures, and even death.
And once again, it’s worth pointing out: coughing has many causes in animals, including parasites (lung worms and heartworms), heart disease, asthma, and pneumonia. Giving an over-the-counter medication to stop the coughing only prolongs accurate diagnosis, and may be toxic to boot.
Both pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are frequently present in decongestant products like Sudafed. Pet parents who are purchasing allergy medications for their pets should be aware of the potential for toxicity with this drug, since it is often combined with antihistamines. Pseudoephedrine is highly toxic to both dogs and cats; phenylephrine less so, but both can cause neurologic (seizures, tremors) and cardiac (rapid heart rate, arrhythmias, low oxygen) abnormalities.
Pepto-Bismol seems so innocuous, with its creamy smooth minty pinkness. But Pepto-Bismol contains salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in aspirin. Toxicities usually occur with long-term administration – the pet parent who gives a dose of Pepto every few hours over 2 – 3 days or more – or in pets that are exceptionally sensitive to salicylic acid.
Salicylate toxicosis causes vomiting (with or without blood), diarrhea (with or without blood), and abdominal pain. With severe cases blood loss through GI bleeding can occur, and even death.
I use Pepto-Bismol for my dogs but I am very careful about it. I give less than the recommended amount and I only give it once. I don’t give it every few hours and I only don’t do it often! The most I have given my boy is 25ml twice in one week when we first got him because of food change, new environment, and everything else. When I give my pup Pepto I feed it with his food, and 1/4 – 1/2 cup cooked white rice.
Check out Dog safe human Medication for some medicine you can give your pup.
Always be sure to contact your vet before administering any human medication.
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