Pets And Pills (For Humans) Don’t Mix

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As anyone who has a feisty cat or dog knows all too well, it’s almost impossible to get them to take their medicine. They struggle, they squirm, they scratch, they bite. And just when you think they’ve finally swallowed the pill, you find it on the floor.

But then there’s the matter of what happens when our pets accidentally take our medicine.

Accidental poisoning poses real threat to pets

Nap time! Hurricane Harvey kittens take a break at the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

In a recent column in The Oakland Press, veterinarian “accidental pet poisonings are on the rise, and some of the most common are from human medication.”

Specifically, Dr. says some of the common medications we take to treat minor ailments pose a real threat to companion animals. Examples include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs such as Advil, Aleve and Motrin.

When accidentally swallowed by our pets, these drugs can cause serious ailments ranging from  stomach and intestinal ulcers to kidney failure, says.

Tylenol poses an even bigger danger for cats, which are “especially sensitive to acetaminophen” she adds.

“One regular-strength tablet can damage red blood cells, leaving the blood unable to carry oxygen,”  explains. “Many cats die from acetaminophen ingestion. In dogs at high doses, it can cause liver damage and also damage red blood cells.”

Certain medications used to treat depression in people can also be harmful for pets. As notes, pets that ingest too much  Effexor, Cymbalta and Lexapro can experience “serious neurological problems, such as sedation, tremors, incoordination and seizures.” On the other hand, some  other antidepressants may have the opposite effect, leading to elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

“Keep in mind, too, that it seems pets enjoy the taste of Effexor and often will eat the whole pill,” warns.

Finally, she says, medications used in the treatment of human ADHD can also act as stimulants in pets, raising heart rates and creating anxiety.

How to reduce the risk of accidental ingestion

The good news is that there are simple things all “pet parents” can do to prevent or reduce the risk of accidental ingestion. The first is to keep your medicine where Fido or FiFi can’t reach it. The second is to consult your veterinarian before giving your pet any medication not specifically prescribed for that pet.

also recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Never store loose pills in a plastic bag, because pets can chew through them.
  • Reduce the chances of your pills getting mixed up with your pet’s medicine by keeping them separate.
  • If you keep your medication in your purse, make sure to store the purse out of reach because curious pets in search of treats may mistakenly eat the contents.

“Remember, pets metabolize medication differently from humans, so if you have any questions regarding a medication your pet may have ingested, call your vet,” says.

In other words, better safe than sorry…

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