The Pet Poison Helpline offers tips to prevent pet poisoning caused by human medications. The 24-hour helpline is available throughout North America for veterinary professionals and pet owners who need help treating a potentially poisoned pet.
At the Pet Poison Helpline, they have numerous veterinary professionals on staff, including board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialists, board-certified veterinary emergency critical care specialists, veterinarians and certified veterinary technicians specifically trained in the field of toxicology.
Below are the top 10 human medications most frequently ingested by pets:
- NSAIDs (e.g., Advil, Aleve, and Motrin) Common household medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories top the list. The names include ibuprofen and naproxen.
- Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) This drug is not safe for pets, especially cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells.
- Antidepressants (e.g., Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro) While occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems, such as sedation, incoordination, tremors, and seizures. Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. One pill can cause serious poisoning.
- ADD/ADHD medications (e.g., Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin) Minimal ingestions of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures, and heart problems.
- Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta) About half of the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination, and slowed breathing in pets.
- Birth control (e.g., estrogen, estradiol, progesterone) Large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone-marrow suppression, particularly in birds. Additionally, female pets that are intact are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.
- ACE Inhibitors (e.g. Zestril, Altace) Pets ingesting small amounts of this medication can potentially be monitored at home, unless they have kidney failure or heart disease.
- Beta-blockers (e.g. Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg) Small amounts of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets. Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a slow heart rate.
- Thyroid hormones (e.g., Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid) Large acute overdoses in cats and dogs can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, rapid heart rate, and aggression.
- Cholesterol-lowering agents (e.g., Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor) Most “statin” (drugs used to lower cholesterol levels) ingestions only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Serious side effects from these drugs come with long-term use.
For more information, visit www.petpoisonhelpline.com or call 800-213-6680.