"Over the Counter" Doesn't Mean Safe for Everyone!

Unfortunately many of the common medications that we have in our medicine cabinets at home are toxic to our pets. OTC (over the counter) medications are often present in our homes and we take them without much thought to the side effects because being OTC they are considered ‘safe’. The most notable examples of medications that we use frequently that are toxic to our pets are Acetaminophen, Pseudoephedrine, and Loperamide.

Acetaminophen at any dosage is toxic to cats.  If your cat ingests this drug, the result is red blood cells destruction, as well as liver and kidney damage.  Treatment for acetaminophen exposure needs to be quickly sought and aggressive both for cats and dogs.

Pseudoephedrine is a medication found commonly in non-drowsy cold formulations, antihistamines, and decongestants. It can sauce increased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as dizziness, vomiting, and seizures.  Quick treatment to counteract these effects can often prevent any long term side effects.

Loperamide is a drug found in anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal medications. It may seem like a good idea if your pet has diarrhea, but this med can cause vomiting, hypothermia, and bradycardia (slow heart rate). Supportive care is required in the form of fluid therapy and drugs to reverse the effects on the heart.

Some medications we use at home are drugs that we use in veterinary medicine as well, but the dosages may be very different. Medications like Pepcid AC, Reactin, Aspirin, and Benadryl are OTC medications that in practice we will often give owners dosages for, but an overdose can cause problems. Aspirin can cause hyperventilation, gastric ulceration and kidney damage in higher doses.  Reactin (Ceterizine) in high doses can cause vomiting, tremors and increased heart rate. Most of these medications can also have side effects if your pet has any underlying medical issues.

For these reasons we ask that pet owners not give any OTC medications without being directed by a veterinarian. These drugs are designed for human use with human doses, and our dogs and cats don’t always handle them the same way. If you think your pet has accidentally gotten into your medicine cabinet call one of the four Horizon Hospitals to ask for advice.

The ASPCA website also has a great list of medications that are toxic to animals so check it out! http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/top-10-human-medications-that-poison-our-pets.aspx


Article by:  Riverbend Team