Spring 2017

Bad Medicine

Beware: Some of the drugs you take for your own health are hazardous to your pets.

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Illustration: Ward Schumaker

About a quarter of all phone calls to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center are about human medications, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Pets can become gravely ill or even die if they lap up pills that have been dropped or left sitting around, chew through pill bottles or are given human medications by someone who doesn’t know any better. Here are just a few of the common human remedies you want to keep away from your dog or cat:

Ibuprofen, often sold under the brand names Advil and Motrin, is the most common human medication ingested by pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association says this is because the pills often have a sweet outer coating that appeals to pets. The drug can cause stomach ulcers and even kidney failure.

Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription sleep aid and antianxiety medication. Most pets that ingest the drug become sleepy and wobbly, and a few become very agitated. Large doses of alprazolam can cause blood pressure to drop and lead to weakness or collapse.

Adderall is a combination of four amphetamines used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children. The drug acts as a stimulant in pets, causing elevated heart rate and body temperature, hyperactivity, tremors and seizures.

Tylenol (acetaminophen) is a particular hazard for cats, but it can also cause problems in dogs. The drug can damage the liver and red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.

Aleve (naproxen), a common over-the-counter pain reliever, can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure in animals, even in small amounts.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested these or other drugs not prescribed for it, immediately call your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center at 1.888.426.4435.

Adapted with permission from Your Dog: The Newsletter for Caring Dog Owners, published by Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. For subscription information, go to tuftsyourdog.com or call 1.800.829.5116.

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