Can You Give Your Pet Human Medications?

The answer is yes and no depending on the medication, the dose, and your pet’s medical condition. Some human medications are extremely toxic to animals and should never be administered to your pet. Always use medications in your pet with caution and under the direction of your veterinarian. Keep medications out of the reach of your pet to avoid accidental ingestion or overdose.

Today, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about the dangers of your pet getting into your medications.

 When Pills and Medications Get Into the Wrong Paws

Often pets will climb counters or scavenge pills that have fallen on the floor. Even pet medications, many of which are flavored to encourage the pet to take them, can cause a serious overdose if your pet gains access to them.

As a veterinarian, I have seen many cases where pets have gotten into medications left within their reach – a 4 month old puppy that ate a bottle of valium left in the owner’s purse, a 10 year old poodle that ingested a month’s supply of its flavored arthritis pain medication that was left on the kitchen counter, a pet skunk that ate two Advil left on a coffee table, just name a few. Unfortunately, these scenarios have resulted in very sick pets with extended, expensive hospital stays or have even proved fatal. Always treat medications as you would if there was a small child in the home. Keep them in childproof containers in closed cabinets well out of reach of even the most resourceful pet. You would be surprised what feats an animal can accomplish to gain access to a forbidden substance.

I have also seen many good-intentioned owners unknowingly poison their pets by giving them human medications that are toxic. The most common scenario – an owner who wants to provide some pain relief for a pet that has an injury or arthritis gives their pet a human pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Unfortunately, these medications are extremely toxic to animals and are frequently fatal. One Tylenol can kill a cat. NEVER give your pet a human pain medication!

Some human medications are safe and commonly used in pets. However, you should always consult your veterinarian for advice on which medications are appropriate for specific medical conditions and what dose is correct for your pet.

If your pet ingests a human medication not prescribed by your veterinarian or an overdose of any medication including pet medications, contact your veterinarian or animal poison control hotline immediately.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Pet Poison Helpline

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