Monti here, wanting to give you humans a warning about giving us felines and canines over-the-counter pain medications intended for humans when you see us start to experience any pain and discomfort. Never assume a drug is safe for your pet. Common medications used for adults and children can be toxic and even fatal to your pet. While some over-the-counter medications can be used to treat dogs and cats there is a fine line between the effective dose and the toxic dose. Always contact your veterinarian before giving any medications to your pet. The most dangerous drug for cats and dogs are Acetaminophen(Tylenol, Excedrin), Aspirin, Ibuprofen(Advil, Motrin), and Naproxen(Aleve, Anaprox).
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient found in Tylenol. Acetaminophen is very toxic in cats interfering with oxygen uptake in the blood of cats and can result in death if not treated right away. Acetaminophen overdose in dogs can cause severe liver damage. As little as two regular-strength pills can cause an overdose. Toxicity signs can occur within 1-2 hours after ingestion. Symptoms of an acetaminophen poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, dark colored urine, salivating, abdominal distress, and weakness.
This drug is also very toxic to cats except in a very low dose. At times, veterinarians will use aspirin as an anticoagulant for cats suffering from heart disease and should be done only under the supervision of a vet as it can be fatal. Dogs can tolerate this drug but once again you need to contact your vet for dosage. A small dog can overdose on only two aspirin tablets. Aspirin cannot be mixed with other medications. Coated aspirin prevents the aspirin from being absorbed until it travels into the dog’s intestines which can result in an uneven release of medicine that can rise to poisonous levels. An aspirin overdose can result in stomach ulcers as well as damage to the liver and kidneys. Long-term use of aspirin does produce side effects. Symptoms of an aspirin overdose include pale gums, vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhea, acute thirst, black or tarry stools, anxiety, panting, lethargy, light colored urine, depression, spontaneous bleeding, seizures, difficulty breathing.
Ibuprofen is the active ingredient found in Advil, Motrin, and “cold and flu” medications, and is a non-steriodal anti-inflammatory(NSAIDS). It is never recommended for dogs and cats. It can result in severe gastric ulcers or acute kidney failure. Some Ibuprofen is coated with a sugary substance that is appealing for dogs so accidental ingestion can happen. Ingestion should be treated immediately. Less than one regular tablet can cause digestive ulcers in a dog weighing less than ten pounds. Six pills can lead to kidney failure. Poisoning in a dog can lead to heart or kidney failure, dehydration, or urinary obstruction. There are veterinary specific NSAIDS such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Meloxicam that can be prescribed that are much safer for painful pets. Symptoms of ibuprofen poisoning include staggering, increased thirst, increased urination, digestive upset, bloody stool, lethargy, liver disease, kidney disease, and seizures.
Naproxen is the active ingredient found in Aleve or Anaprox and is a very strong NSAID. As with ibuprofen, naproxen metabolizes slowly, which increases the likelihood of toxicity in pets. Small doses can result in severe symptoms of gastric ulcers, stomach perforations, or acute kidney failure and should never be used in pets.
If you have given or if your pet has accidentally ingested any of these medications call your veterinarian immediately. If your veterinarian is not available call an animal poison control. The number for Pet Poison Helpline is 1-800-213-6680. There is sometimes a charge using their services but the small fee could save your pet’s life.