Medication Safety for Pets

Seven steps to prevent accidental pet poisoning

(RxWiki News) You probably take steps to keep your medications out of the reach of children, but what about your pets?

Your pets can get into your medicine just as easily as kids. The problem? Pets' bodies metabolize medications differently than humans, which can be harmful.

Here's what you need to know about keeping your pets safe:

  1. Store all medications away from where your pets can access them (preferably in a closed cabinet). Don't assume your pet can't reach them. Even if medications are in a medicine bottle, if your pet can chew a bone, they can possibly chew through a plastic bottle.
  2. Be cautious about dropping medications on the floor.
  3. Always keep pet medications separate from human medications. The doses are typically different for pets; human doses can result in much higher doses than pets are used to. If you have multiple pets, be sure to keep their medications separate, too. Accidentally giving a topical flea product meant for a dog to a cat can lead to life-threatening seizures.
  4. Be extra careful when disposing of medication patches — especially pain patches. If you throw used patches in the trash, your pet can easily get into the trash and ingest them.
  5. Over-the-counter medications often seem fairly safe for humans to take, but never give these to your pet. Even ibuprofen (Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause serious harm to your pet.
  6. Always give the dose as directed by your veterinarian. For example, do not buy a topical flea ointment for large dogs and split the dose for two smaller dogs. This can lead to an overdose.
  7. Don't assume anything is safe for your pet. Even certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and iron, can be harmful to your dog.

If you are not sure, ask your veterinarian.

Symptoms of pet poisoning include but are not limited to:

  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Bleeding gums
  • Nosebleeds
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite
  • Very tired
  • Blood in the stools

If you suspect that your pet has ingested any medication by accident, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435). Calling the Animal Poison Control Center may require a $65 consultation fee.

When you call the Animal Poison Control or visit your veterinarian, be sure to have as much as information as you can. These details may include the following:

  • What was ingested and when
  • How much was ingested (how many pills, milligram strength)
  • Pet’s current weight
  • Pet’s known medical history (including a list of medications)

Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS