Did you know that more than half of all calls placed to pet poison hotlines are due to a dog, cat, or other household pet accidentally ingesting medication meant for a human family member? The number of calls even exceeds those at Thanksgiving and other holidays.

One of the most important things to understand about medication as a pet owner is that you should never give your pet human medication even if it’s meant to treat the same condition. It’s always a good idea to speak to one of the veterinarians at Battletown Animal Clinic before giving your pet any type of prescription or non-prescription medication intended for her species. Our veterinarian will monitor your pet for side effects while taking the medication and ensure that it treats the condition as expected.

Common Human Medications Ingested by Animals

The Pet Poison Helpline reports that it receives the most calls about companion animals getting into these types of pills:

  • Tylenol: Dogs who swallow large doses of this medication, also known as acetaminophen, may experience damage to red blood cells and liver failure. It’s even more dangerous for cats due to their smaller body size. Cats with damaged red blood cells have difficulty moving oxygen throughout their bodies.
  • Depression medication: Regardless of the brand name, medication used to treat clinical depression in humans can cause a host of serious neurological issues in animals. Some of these include balance problems, seizures, and tremors. Anti-depressants that include a stimulant can raise a pet’s heart rate to a dangerous level.
  • NSAID: Pain relievers classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including naproxen and ibuprofen, can cause ulcers, kidney failure, and other serious health issues related to the stomach.

Of course, pills aren’t the only type of medication dangerous to pets. They could also get into creams, needles, bandages, liquid medication, and many other types.

Tips to Avoid an Accidental Overdose with Your Pet

We recommend keeping your medications in their original containers in a location that’s far out of your pet’s reach. If you choose to keep medications in a purse, be sure to zip your purse and store it away from your pet. With a sense of smell that’s 10 times that of humans, your pet might be so curious about what’s inside of your purse that they bite and claw it open. This goes for other items in your purse as well, such as gum and make-up.

If the human and animal members of your family are taking medication at the same time, be sure to keep them separate. Taking the wrong type could make a person or animal extremely ill. If you use a plastic organizer for your pills, keep it out of your pet’s reach. Your dog might see it as a new chew toy and your cat will try to bat it, which could cause the contents of the case to spill.

Although it takes a few extra minutes to safeguard your medications, keeping your pet safe is well worth the extra effort. Please contact Battletown Animal Hospital if you need additional advice.

Photo Credit: Ivan-balvan / iStock / Getty Images Plus