The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center receives over 180,000 phone calls every year about pets who have ingested potentially harmful substances around the home.
Topping the list of toxic substances that animals are exposed to are prescription and over-the-counter medications meant only for human use. Many medications can be appealing to pets because they can have colorful, sugary coatings and can resemble bite size treats or pet food.
There are many ways that a pet can get access to your medications. Often a pill will be ingested if it falls on the floor. Pets can jump on countertops to gobble up pills that are left out in pill organizers or bowls. Surprisingly, dogs have been known to chew through medication bottles that have been left seemingly out of reach.
Many people put medications on bedside tables or counters so that they can remember to take them at certain times. Please be aware that these locations are often within your pet’s reach. It is very common for pets to eat pills left on the bedside table.
Human medication can do a lot of damage to a pet’s health.
The most common medication that pets ingest is painkillers, such as Ibuprofen, which can cause kidney failure and stomach ulcers. Another painkiller, Ultram, can cause agitation, unsteadiness, disorientation, vomiting, tremors and seizures.
Xanax and Klonopin, used for anxiety, can cause your pet to lose blood pressure and collapse. Ambien, another human sleep-aid can cause agitation and elevated heart rate.
Cats and dogs are especially sensitive to Tylenol, which can cause liver damage and red blood cell damage.
The list goes on: Adderall, Aleve, Cymbalta, Effexor. It’s important to note that most human medications can pose a risk to your pets. Also, medication that does one thing for people does not necessarily have the same benefit for our pets.
There are some simple guidelines to follow that will keep your pets safe.
- Keep medications in places that you know your pets cannot access, preferably in closed cabinets above countertops.
- Pick up or vacuum any spilled medication immediately.
- Never give human medication to your pet without first consulting a veterinarian.
- If you think your pet has consumed human medication, consult your veterinarian at once. You may reach the Animal Samaritans Veterinary Clinic at 760-343-3477 Monday – Saturday 9am – 4:30pm.
- Or after hours, consult ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. (fee may apply)