We often have pets come in to see us that have taken their owner’s medications. Often this occurs by accident; someone drops a pill on the floor or spills a bottle and before they know it the new puppy has devoured the medication thinking it was a tasty treat. We also see well meaning owners who see their poor pet limping after an injury and reach for their own pain medications to help out their best friend in their time of need. Both of these scenarios (and many others) are completely understandable, but can lead to serious injuries to our pets. Why is that? Why shouldn’t we let our pets take our pain medications anyway?
The most common human pain relief drug are the Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Tylenol, Asprin, Advil are all common brand names, but also newer drugs like Mobicox, Aleve and some back pain medications like Robaxin Gold are NSAIDs or contain them with other drugs. All of these medications provide pain relief, bring down swelling and reduce fever- which is good, but also act on other parts of the body using the same mechanism. The most common side effect of these medications is that they decrease blood flow to important ares of the body like the kidneys and the lining of the stomach causing ulcers and in severe cases kidney failure. These and other side effects can been seen in people that take these medications, but what about our pets?
There are many concerns with a dog given NSAIDs meant for a person. Firstly, the drugs are designed for human bodies and are not necessarily tested to be safe for dogs. Although there are NSAIDs available for dogs and cats, they are often not the same ones we reach for. Secondly, our dogs are usually much smaller than we are, so the dosing of drugs that may be appropriate for use in dogs might be 10 or more times higher in people. A single pill might be enough to harm a dog or a cat while people can safely take multiple pills in a day. Thirdly, if a dog has been given an over the counter medication, even a safe drug at the right dose, it can affect the other drugs that we can give to your pet when we do see them. It is always best to seek veterinary advice before giving anything to your pet.
So what can we do to help our friends in need? Firstly- call us before you give anything. The New Hamburg Veterinary Clinic always has a vet on call, so reach out to us if you have concerns. Keep your medications away from your pets- Just like children, they need to be kept safe. Resting and icing injuries are almost always safe, but again, do so at the discretion of your veterinary team. And if you have pain medications for your pets, always read and follow the label directions.
For more information on NSAID toxicity in pets, see the link below.