Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pet Talk

August 6, 2012

Human medicines can be poison to pets

— Last week, Dr. Dorothy Black, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), shared suggestions for keeping cats and dogs safe from potentially toxic human foods. This week she discusses some common over-the-counter and prescription medications that are toxic to pets.

“Many homes have these medications, and it can be surprisingly easy for pets to get a hold of them,” Black said. “Whether pets open bottles, chew on tubes, lick topical medication, or just pick up dropped pills off the floor, these medications pose particularly dangerous threats.”

Even the most common over-the-counter medications can be dangerous. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as naproxen, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin can be highly toxic to dogs and cats.

These human medications can have profound effects on the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, and hemoglobin in red blood cells. Unfortunately, there is no specific antidote and an overdose often requires hospitalization and supportive care.

Most cases of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories toxicity have a prognosis of “good” to “guarded” depending on clinical signs.

“It is best not to give any NSAIDs to pets, unless under the direct supervision of your veterinarian,” Black said. “And keep medications out of the reach of pets. Pets are naturally drawn to objects that we touch often and pill bottles are regularly handled, so they carry our scent.”

“We typically use terms of ‘excellent, good, fair, guarded, and grave’ to give odds of survival in these types of cases. Excellent indicates we have little doubt that, with appropriate care (typically very minimal care), their pet will return to normal function,” Black said. “Guarded prognoses usually have a fifty-fifty chance for survival with aggressive treatment, and the pet may not recover to one hundred percent of what they were before poisoning. Without treatment the pet is likely to die.”

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