When our dogs get hurt or sick, we want nothing more than to help them. Taking them to the veterinarian is often our first response – but we are sometimes surprised when the medications prescribed are the exact same medications we get when we go to our human doctor. We may even have some of those medications at home already! But it’s important to realize that the dosages in human and dog medications are often very different, and some drugs we take are actually very dangerous to our four-legged friends. So what should we avoid when deciding to help our dogs feel comfortable when they’re under the weather? Or, perhaps you’ve accidentally left out your bottle and your puppy decided to eat it – pills and all! What should you do? What medications are the most dangerous if ingested?
- NSAIDs: NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil & Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). While these are very common medications used for minor ailments in people, one or two pills can potentially cause gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure in our dogs.
- Acetaminophen: The most common acetaminophen for humans is Tylenol, but it should never be given to our pets. In dogs, even small dosages can lead to liver failure and red blood cell damage. For our dog-loving readers with cats, acetaminophen is especially dangerous.
- Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines include anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan. These medications can be very beneficial for the people who need them, but they are very dangerous for our dogs. When dogs take these medications, their reaction is similar to an overdose in humans – severe lethargy, slow breathing, incoordination, and low blood pressure; all of which can lead to collapse.
- Anti-depressants: There are various types of anti-depressants, and many of them are used in veterinary medicine. The important thing to remember, though, is that the dosage is very different than what you might be taking. An overdose of anti-depressants of any kind is dangerous for our dogs. Not only can they lead to neurological problems including tremors and seizures, they can greatly elevate the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
- Methylphenidates: This class of drugs is used to treat ADD/ADHD in people, and include medications such as Ritalin and Concerta. Small doses of these medications can cause serious trouble for our pups, including seizures, tremors, and heart problems.
So what can we do to make sure our pets are kept safe from medications? Most importantly, we should listen to our veterinarians. Give only what is prescribed at the dosages prescribed. Some human over-the-counter medications are safe for dogs, but don’t assume or give anything until first speaking with your veterinarian. It’s also important to make sure that medications are kept in places our pets can’t reach. Many people will leave their bottles on their nightstands so they remember to take their medications, but this is an easy spot for your dog to find them. Even a sealed plastic bottle is likely no match for a determined chewer. By keeping our pets away from these medications, we can help ensure their safety. If your dog has ingested any medications not prescribed to them, even if they aren’t listed here, make sure to contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also reach out to any of the pet poison control hotlines, such as the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-(800)-213-6680 or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control at 1-(888)-426-4435; both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
About the Author
Katie is a professional dog trainer located in Southern California, with a background of experience as a veterinary assistant as well. She has trained and competed with multiple breeds in AKC Obedience and Rally, agility, herding, Schutzhund/IPO, French Ring and conformation. She has been involved in dogs since she was a child, and specializes in protection dogs, working dogs, and aggression issues. You can visit her website, Katie’s Dog Training, to find out more information about her training and accomplishments. When she’s not helping others and writing, she’s out on the field with her Belgian Malinois and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
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