Hanford Veterinary Hospital Blog
Human Medications and Your Pet
As pet owners, we want our animals to be well and not in pain. And we will often do whatever we can to make that happen. Unfortunately, some owners use the web or friends for advice and give their pets human or animal medications that are not prescribed specifically for their pet’s current problem by their veterinarian. This idea may seem harmless enough, but it’s not.
Please think twice before offering your pet any medication that we have not prescribed or directed you to give. There is more at stake than you could possibly imagine.
Human Medications Can Be Dangerous for Pets
As veterinarians, we often prescribe human medications for pets. This is done with a full knowledge about their interactions. We know that pets may react very differently than humans or other pets to certain medications. What might be effective for us could be deadly for our pets. Remember:
Pets most often require different doses of medications than people – Each species absorb or metabolize drugs differently, some very slowly, some very rapidly or perhaps not at all. People are different from dogs and dogs are different from cats. Pocket pets such as guinea pigs are extremely sensitive and may die if given certain medications.
Pets may not be able to safely take some human medications – Just as animals may metabolize certain drugs differently, they may not be able to metabolize some drugs at all. A dose of human medication could be ineffective or even deadly. An infant dose of Tylenol in cats causes serious complications and most often death because cats lack the enzyme required to remove it from the body.
Human Medications Interfere With Your Pet’s Diagnosis
Always let your veterinarian know if you have given any prescription, over the counter, or herbal medications to your pet. Administering medications without medical advice can change or mask symptoms, making it more difficult for us to arrive at a correct diagnosis.
This can also result in a delay in the institution of the correct treatment, and may be more costly for the owner in the long run. Even if a medication is safe and appropriately dosed, you may be doing more harm than good by administering it to your pet.
Human Medications Can Prevent Us From Using Better Medications
When you administer a medication to your pet, it can linger in the body for several days after administration. This results in what is called a washout period before drugs that may interact be given. We may have a medication that is better suited to treat your pet, but may be delayed in using it while waiting for the other medication to leave the body.
Veterinary-specific pain and anti-inflammatory medications exist that carry a much lower risk of side effects and are more effective for pets. Aspirin is one of the most commonly misused human medications in our pets. When a pet owner administers aspirin at home, it prevents us from using these better-suited medications for a week or more. It may even delay a needed surgical procedure.
While it may be tempting to administer medications to your pet, please check with us before doing so. Even medications that have been previously prescribed for your pet may not be appropriate for a new situation or may be out of date. We want your pets to be as happy and healthy as possible. Allowing us to advise you regarding medications is the best way to help them.
If you feel that your pet is in pain, or is in need of a prescribed medication, please call us for a consultation or to schedule an appointment.