As pet owners, it’s only natural for us to want our animals to feel better. We often do whatever we can to make that happen. Sometimes, it may be tempting to give your pet some of your medication, and while this may seem harmless, it is often not.
Over the counter medications are not always safe for our furry friends. Summeridge Animal Clinic wants you to think twice before combining human medications and your pet.
Why Human Medications and Your Pet Don’t Mix
It’s true that human medications for pets are sometimes prescribed. However, if you’re not well versed in animal physiology and pharmacology, this can be a dangerous practice. Pets are not people. They often require different dosages than what is on the label. Different species metabolize drugs differently, as well. For instance, both dogs and people often take a medication called levothyroxine for low thyroid hormone. The dose a 100 pound labrador retriever would take, however, could kill a 100 pound person.
Also, just because pets can take some human medications doesn’t mean all meds are safe. Just as animals may metabolize certain drugs differently, they may also not be able to metabolize some drugs at all. This means that a dose of human medication could be ineffective or even deadly. An infant dose of Tylenol, for instance, could cause serious complications and death in a cat simply because cats lack the enzyme required to remove the drug from the body.
Interference With Diagnosis
Even if a medication is safe and appropriately dosed, you may be doing more harm than good by administering it to your pet. Providing medications without medical advice can change or mask symptoms, making it more difficult for us to arrive at a correct diagnosis. This can result in a delay in your pet receiving the correct treatment and may even be more costly in the long run.
When you administer a medication to your pet, it can linger in the body for several days. The time it takes for the drug to leave the body is called the washout period. If your pet’s veterinarian would like to administer a medication that could interact with the one you gave, he or she may have to wait quite a while before it’s safe to do so. When you administer medications without instruction, you can prevent us from administering the appropriate one.
Many human medications have a safer, more effective alternative for pets that we keep in our pharmacy. Aspirin is one of the most commonly misused human medications. There are veterinary-specific pain and anti-inflammatory medications that carry a much lower risk of side effects and higher efficacy for pets.
Beware Dr. Google
In the age of the internet, it’s easy to simply type a question into a search engine and pull up a result. However, please don’t mistake Google for your pet’s doctor. When surfing the web, please remember anyone can post anything, but that doesn’t necessarily make it true.
Also remember that while you may find a safe and effective dose of a medication online, the internet does not know your specific pet. Some medications or supplements can interfere with other necessary medications, and certain health issues (such as a seizure disorder or a heart condition) could make normally “safe” medications not-so-safe.
While it may be tempting to administer medications to your pet, please give us a call before doing so. Even medications that have been previously prescribed for your pet may not be appropriate for a new situation.
We want your pet to be as happy and healthy as possible. Please allow us to advise you before giving your pet any medication so that we can help achieve this goal.