What Is Safe For You May Be Harmful To Your Pet

Dogs and cats are not small people. Many of the products and medications commonly used by us are harmful for our pets. One of the most well known examples of this is Tylenol (Acetaminophen). Cats are especially sensitive to Acetaminophen, even a small amount can cause damage to the liver and red blood cells, and even death.

NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) including Aspirin, Naproxen, and Ibuprofen can also cause serious problems in pets. Use of these drugs in dogs and cats can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers, as well as kidney and liver damage. There are NSAIDS specifically formulated for pets that are less likely to cause harmful side effects. Even a single dose of a common pain reliever such as aspirin can limit the option to use approved therapeutic veterinary medications because of the potential additive effects of mixing the drugs. As with many drugs, cats are especially prone to serious adverse reactions to NSAIDS.

We do not want our pets to be in pain, and there are many effective medications that can provide pain relief. We can help an old arthritic pet enjoy a more active senior life. Our pets are able to recover from surgery and dental procedures, or an injury, comfortably and restfully. However, these medications must be prescribed by a veterinarian. Some pets have underlying problems that would predispose them to the serious side effects of certain drugs, and the benefits versus the risks must be discussed. As mentioned earlier, some medications are harmful if combined with other drugs.

We commonly use antihistamines for allergic reactions in our pets. However, some antihistamines are combined with other drugs that can be harmful. For example, Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is often used to treat itching or sneezing in dogs, but the over the counter antihistamine may be combined with a decongestant such as Pseudoephrine that is not recommended for your dog. 

Sometimes even a medication previously prescribed can pose a risk. For example, a red eye and squinting may be caused by inflammation and require a steroid (Hydrocortisone) for effective treatment. A scratch on the corneal surface of the eye can also cause redness and squinting, but application of a steroid in the eye could make it worse. A medication that works for one problem may be contraindicated in other situations, and often only a veterinarian can make that determination.

It is always best to check with a veterinarian before administering any medication to your pet. Sometimes it is just a phone call to make sure the product is safe to use and to confirm the proper dose. Many drug doses in our pets are different than for us. Sometimes pets are more sensitive to a medication and the dose is much lower than it would be for you. Many times a higher dose is required to be effective. You may not be helping your pet if you give a children's dose when the recommended dose is higher than it would be for you.

We love our pets, and always want to do what is best for them. Seek professional advice before giving any medication to your pet to be sure it is a safe and therapeutic option.


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