January 13, 2011

Hormone Gels and the Risk to Kids and Pets

Filed under: Human Medications and Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:54 pm

Hormone gels and creams are prescribed to men and women in order to help them maintain healthy hormone levels.  Menopausal women may use these creams to treat hot flashes and men suffering from low testosterone levels may also use them.  Unfortunately, with these creams we risk exposing children and pets whenever we engage in skin to skin contact.  While serious problems resulting from such contact are rare, there are some shocking symptoms associated with secondary exposure to these hormone gels.

hormone gelChildren exposed to hormone gels may show signs of puberty earlier than average and cases of enlarged genitalia, early pubic hair growth, and even breast development have been reported.  Dogs can cats may even ingest the cream when they lick your hand or skin leading to heat-like behavior even if they have been spayed.  In fact, in July of this year, the FDA went so far as to issue a warning to parents that children and pets need to be protected from exposure to Evamist, a commonly prescribed estrogen spray for menopausal women.  Furthermore, manufacturers AndroGel and Testim, two common topical testosterone gels, were required by the FDA to include warnings on the products’ labels.

While the risk to children and pets is increased when individuals are using topical hormone gels, these forms of replacement therapy seem to be healthier for the patient.  With oral hormone replacement therapy, specifically for women taking estrogen, there tends to be a higher risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack while transdermal hormone gels are significantly safer.  As a result, there has been a noticeable shift in treatment toward creams and gels.

Patients who use topical hormone gels and who also have close contact with children and animals should take special precautions.  Always wash your hands after applying the cream or gel to prevent secondary exposure.  Also, if you regularly hold pets or small children, you should be careful to prevent secondary exposure from contact with arms, legs, and the body.

September 28, 2010

Tips for Protecting Your Pets from Human Medications

Filed under: Human Medications and Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 10:24 am

Pets are susceptible to serious side effects when they accidentally ingest human medications.  First of all, pets are smaller, so prescription doses are generally much smaller as well; but in addition, pets metabolize medications differently which also puts them at risk from dangerous side effects.  As such, it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your pets from human medications.

The first thing you should do to protect your pets from human medications is to find a safe and secure place to store your prescriptions and over the counter medications.  From Tylenol and Advil to blood pressure and cholesterol medications, there are a number of dangerous side effects from medications that can even put your pet’s life in jeopardy.

  • Always keep medications out of your pet’s reach and never give your pet any medications unless on the advice of a veterinarian.
  • Never leave loose pills lying around and always keep them stored in their original, child proof bottles.
  • If you use weekly pill containers, be sure to store it in a secure cabinet where your pet cannot gain access and remember that some pets may view the plastic container as a chew toy.

In addition, your pet may have prescriptions of its own so it’s important that you keep your pet’s medication and human medication separate.  Veterinarians have countless stories of pet owners who have accidentally given their own medications to their pets.

While storing medications safely is quite obvious, accidental pet overdoses tend to happen in situations that we never consider.

  • If you keep medications in your purse or bag, keep them out of reach of pets.
  • Medications that are safe for children are not necessarily safe for pets.
  • Over the counter and herbal supplements can also be dangerous for pets.
  • Contact your veterinarian or pet poison control immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested human medication.  Be prepared with the type of medication and suspected amount that your pet has ingested.

September 24, 2010

Human Medicine Can Be Hazardous for your Pets health

Filed under: Human Medications and Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:45 am

trusted pet medsIn your medicine cabinet you probably have a whole host of prescription and over the counter medications that while safe for humans can be extremely dangerous for pets.  The following pharmaceuticals should be kept out of reach of pets and children.

1.       NSAIDs

Advil, Aleve, and Motrin are among the most common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications and can be purchased without prescription.  Ibuprofen or naproxen is the active ingredient in these NSAIDs and even a single dose can be harmful to your pet.  Stomach and intestinal ulcers and kidney failure are among the more serious effects.

2.       Acetaminophen

Tylenol is likely the most popular analgesic on the market today and you’d be hard pressed to find a household without Tylenol or a generic form of acetaminophen.  Safe for humans and even children, acetaminophen has become a go-to for aches and pains associated with colds or other minor illnesses but one regular strength pill can damage your cat’s red blood cells and interfere with her ability to transport oxygen.  In dogs, acetaminophen overdose can cause liver failure and red blood cell damage.

3.       Antidepressants

Small doses of antidepressants like Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, or Lexapro are sometimes diagnosed to pets with anxiety problems, but antidepressant overdoses can have serious side effects.  Neurological problems including sedation, lack of coordination, tremors, and seizures as well as stimulant effects like elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature can be caused by antidepressants in pets.  Notably, cats have been known to enjoy the taste of Effexor but just one pill is enough to poison your cat.

4.       ADD/ADHD Treatments

ADD and ADHD are seemingly a growing concern for parents in today’s generation.  While children, and sometimes adults, are often treated harmlessly with medications like Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin, these strong stimulants contain ingredients like amphetamines and methylphenidate.  Small doses of these medications can be life threatening for pets and may cause seizures, elevated body temperatures, and heart problems.

5.       Benzodiazepines/Sleep Aids

Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, and Lunesta are prescribed to limit anxiety and assist people with sleeping but in pets these drugs have the opposite effect.  Pets exposed to benzodiazepines and other sleep aids become agitated and in larger doses severe lethargy, lack of coordination, and slowed breathing results.  Cats are also susceptible to liver failure with some benzodiazepines.

6.       Birth Control

Birth control pills contain natural hormones including estrogen, estradiol, and progesterone.  Small doses of birth control pills are usually harmless to pets, but in larger doses birth control pills can suppress bone marrow, especially in birds.  Moreover, non-spayed female pets that come in contact with birth control pills are even more at risk of estrogen poisoning.

7.       ACE Inhibitors canine pill delivery

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as Zestril and Altace are used to treat high blood pressure, sometimes even in pets.  However, ACE inhibitor overdoses lead to dangerously low blood pressure, dizziness, and weakness.  In fact, contact with these medications is not particularly serious but if your pet is already suffering from a kidney or heart problem, ingestion of ACE inhibitors can be more serious.  If you suspect your pet has accidentally ingested an ACE inhibitor, monitor him closely and visit the veterinarian immediately if you notice any strange side effects.

8.       Beta-Blockers

Tenormin, Toprol, and Coreg are common beta-blockers that are used to treat high blood pressure.  However, unlike ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers can cause serious problems in pets.  Overdoses of beta-blockers can be life-threatening as they can cause considerable drops in blood pressure leading to a very slow heart rate.

9.       Thyroid Hormones

Armour desiccated thyroid and Synthroid are hormones prescribed for individuals with underactive thyroids.  While these medications are also used in dogs, they are usually prescribed at much higher doses.  As such, accidental ingestion of thyroid hormones is likely not going to cause serious side effects.  However, large overdoses in cats and dogs have been shown to cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, increased heart rate, and excessive aggression.

10.   Cholesterol Maintenance Medication

Finally, cholesterol lowering agents like Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor, known as statins, are common for individuals with high, seeming uncontrollable cholesterol.  Statin overdoses can cause minor vomiting and diarrhea and serious side effects are associated more with long term use.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.