Pets should not be popping pills |

Pets should not be popping pills

Shauna Farnell

People don’t like to see their pets in pain, but in some cases, trying to help might kill them.

Most pet owners are aware that substances such as chocolate and antifreeze are toxic to animals, but some don’t know that Tylenol and aspirin can be just as deadly.

“I saw a dog who got a gastric ulcer from an anti-inflammatory and died,” said Paul Veralli, DVM, of Animal Hospital of the High Country. “When people give their pets human medicine, it’s innocently done. They’re not trying to circumvent anything, they just don’t understand the (potential repercussions).”

Veterinarians sometimes prescribe aspirin for dogs, but they warn pet owners not to try to determine a dosage themselves and to never give human pills to cats.

“I’d like to spread the word to stay away from Tylenol and aspirin for cats,” said Gretchen Norton, DVM, of Breckenridge Animal Clinic. “Dogs can take aspirin, but we’d ask you to call your vet and get a dosage first. Most dogs can take small dosages. We always emphasize `no Tylenol.’ With things like Benadryl, sometimes dogs can take more. But the thing to realize is that (pets) process things differently.”

Aspirin is included on the National Animal Control Association’s list of household items than can be poisonous to pets, as is Acetaminophen – the chemical found in Tylenol. Diet pills, sleeping pills, deodorant, laxatives, liquor and soap also are on the list.

“It’s not so much the dosages that are incorrect, there are just certain drugs you can’t give to pets,” Veralli said. “If you give a cat an aspirin, you’ll kill it. Give it a Tylenol, you’ll kill it even faster. Cats have an inability to metabolize those products, so it becomes toxic very fast. With Ibuprofen in dogs, it causes so much gastric upset, it can cause an ulcer. Why this doesn’t happen in a human, I don’t know. You perceive it as a benign drug.”

Because many medicines and household products are tested on animals, people might assume the effects on people and animals are one and the same. For most pain killers and anti-inflammatories, however, this is not the case.

“The vast majority of the time, if it’s safe in a human, it’s safe in a dog,” Veralli said. “So many of the drugs we use in dogs or cats are human drugs – thyroid medicine is similar, antibiotics are similar … anyone who’s been around animals would make that assumption. They’re making decisions that make sense, but it’s not safe.”

Neosporin and most ointments are safe to apply on dogs and cats, but vets recommend that pet owners purchase an animal first aid book at a pet supply shop or bookstore to educate themselves on what’s safe, and to give their vet a call before administering human medication if they are unsure.

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