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Posted on 03-15-2018

Nearly 50% of the poisoning cases managed by Pet Poison Helpline involve human medications—both over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Our cats are just as likely to get into the medication as our dogs. Sometimes the mishap comes from the pet chewing open the bottle or “cleaning up” the pills we may have spilt on the floor. Other times the ingestion happens when individuals try to home-medicate. In all cases, awareness is key; so if your pet eats any of these medications, call us or the emergency clinic immediately.

1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil and some types of Motrin) and naproxen (e.g. Aleve). One or two pills can cause serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure and coma.

2. Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol). One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen is usually fatal to a cat by irreversibly damaging their red blood cells. In dogs, it leads to liver failure and can damage red blood cells.

3. Antidepressants (e.g. Cymbalta, Effexor, Pristiq). Some can occasionally be used in pets, overdoses lead to serious neurologic problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures. Others have a stimulant effect, leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

4. ADD/ADHD medications (e.g. Adderall, Concerta, Focalin). These often contain potent stimulants. Even minimal ingestions can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, and elevated body temperature and heart problems.

5. Beta-blockers (e.g. Coreg, Sectral, Toprol) Beta-blockers can be used safely in pets; however, given their potent effect on blood vessels and the heart, the same doses given to people may be life-threatening for pets.

6. Benzodiazepines (e.g. Ativan, Restoril, Valium, Xanax). These are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. Dogs can either become agitated or completely opposite and have severe lethargy, incoordination and slowed breathing. Cats may develop liver failure.

7. Albuterol. Dogs biting into an inhaler causes a massive dose of drug delivered all at once. Albuterol in large amounts can cause vomiting, a dangerously elevated heart rate and severe weakness.

8. Estrogen-based drugs. Birth control pill packages are easily broken into, but thankfully, a small ingestion amount typically does not cause trouble. Large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol, especially those formulated as topical creams, can cause bone marrow suppression.

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