Just because something is safe for people, does not necessarily mean that it is also safe for our pets. Take the example of chocolate. For humans, chocolate is a wonderfully tasty treat but it is like a poison for dogs. The same can be said of some medications, whether prescription or over the counter, and as such we need to be careful to keep these medications away from our pets.
Although not an entirely comprehensive list, the following medications can be very dangerous for your pets.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) are common household medications that can seriously harm your pets even in small doses. One or two pills may lead to stomach or intestinal ulcers in dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, gerbils, hamsters, and other small mammals. In addition, kidney failure is a possible outcome of NSAID exposure in pets.
The most common medication containing acetaminophen is Tylenol but it is actually a very common analgesic found in many anti- cold, flu, or pain medications. While acetaminophen can be very helpful for people, this medication can be deadly for cats and dogs. In cats, acetaminophen destroys red blood cells and ultimately interferes with their ability to get oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen is known to cause liver failure or red blood cell damage.
Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, and Lexapro are well known antidepressants that in small dosages may be used for pets but overdoses can cause very serious neurological deficits. Sedation, problems with balance and muscle movements, tremors, and even seizures are the most common examples; moreover, antidepressants are often stimulant medications that can cause dangerous increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature in pets.
- ADD/ADHD Medications
Medications like Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin which are diagnosed to attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) patients are stimulants which have been known to cause fatal tremors and seizures and can also dangerously increase body temperature and heart rate and can even cause heart problems in pets.
- Sleep Aids
Often designed to reduce anxiety so people can sleep better, sleep aids like benzodiazepines, or more specifically Xanax, Klonopin, Lunesta, and Ambien, can cause agitation in pets and in some cases these drugs can cause extreme lethargy, imbalance, and reduced respiration. More worrisome is the fact that some benzodiazepines can cause liver failure in cats.
- Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills usually contain female hormones like estrogen, estradiol, and progesterone and if ingested in small doses they won’t be harmful for your pets. However, large dosages can suppress bone marrow, especially in birds. Also, if your female pets are not spayed, estrogen poisoning is a more serious issue.
- Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE)
Zestril and Altace are the most common brands of ACE drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure in humans and even pets. Unfortunately, pet doses and human doses are not the same and overdoses can cause low blood pressure, weakness, and dizziness. While all heart medications should be kept away from pets, ingestion of ACE drugs is not a major issue. Nevertheless, carefully monitor your pet if you suspect it has ingested these medications and visit a veterinarian if you are concerned about more serious health issues.
Tenormin, Toprol, and Coreg are beta-blockers that are also used to treat high blood pressure. Beta-blockers however are very dangerous for your pets as they can cause fatal drops in blood pressure.
- Thyroid hormones
Dogs can also suffer from thyroid problems and may require treatment using the same medications as people. In fact, dogs often require much higher dosages than humans so overdose is less likely. Nevertheless, if your dog or cat ingests a large dose, tremors, nervousness, panting, and rapid heart rate can result.
- Cholesterol Treatments
You may be familiar with some of the most effective cholesterol medications like Lipitor, Zocor, or Crestor as they are very common in North America. Long-term use of these medications can cause major problems for pets but the most common side-effects seen in pets are mild vomiting and diarrhea.