Is it Safe to Give Human Medicine to Pets?
Ask your Vet first
Always get specific pet medicine instructions from your veterinarian. Do not attempt to extrapolate dosing from humans to pets; always ask your vet for the right dose. In fact, special dosage forms or compounded formulations may be needed for pets. Keep your pet safe by taking the time to ask your vet first.
It Hurts Everyone: Pain in Our Pets
Check with your vet if you think your dog or cat needs a pain medication. FDA also offers information.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pets are available and are often used for arthritis. Human nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen are felt to be too toxic for safe use in pets at ANY dose.
Man and Beast: NSAID Side Effects Are Similar
Just like in humans, NSAIDs can cause side effects in our pets, too, such as vomiting, decreased appetite, and diarrhea. More serious side effects, like kidney or liver toxicity, stomach ulcers and bleeding are possible, too.
Pets will require blood tests when therapy is started and regularly thereafter (usually every 6 months) to monitor for liver toxicity. The popular human NSAIDs naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are NOT recommended for pets due to toxicity. Rimadyl (carprofen), a chewable NSAID tablet for dogs, and other NSAIDS, are available from your vet.
The Wonder Drug?
DO NOT give aspirin to cats; it can be deadly to your cat.
How Safe is Tylenol for Pets?
One report noted that three OTC drugs - ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin - resulted in roughly 10,000 annual calls to animal poison control centers. Keep all forms of acetaminophen (tablets, liquid, capsules) out of reach of your pet. And remember, acetaminophen is often combined with other medications, like cold and flu remedies, so keep them out of reach, too. If your pet is in pain, talk with your vet to get the safest medication possible.
Scratch Here, Please
Don't Eat That! Tagamet, Pepcid AC, Zantac for Pets
These acid controllers bind to histamine receptors in the stomach and help block acid production. Your vet might use these drugs for treatment of acid reflux, Helicobacter pylori infection, inflammatory bowel disease, canine parvovirus, ulcerations, vomiting, or with drugs that may irritate the stomach. More affordable generics may be available OTC, too. Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
Glucosamine for Joints and Hip Dysplasia
It can take several weeks before the benefits are seen in your pet from taking these joint supplements. Glucosamine is available at most pet supply stores and is now even found in some pet foods.
Go For a Ride, Master?
Some vets might recommend meclizine (Bonine, Antivert) or dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), a human motion sickness medicine. As with so many human medicines, Ddoses are based on your dogs weight, so ask your vet. These drugs may cause drowsiness, too, so beware about dog safety in the car, especially if your friend is fond of hanging out the window.
It's Bound to Happen: Cuts, Stings, or Mild Lacerations
Owners should make sure that the antibiotic ointments they use do not include "caines", like lidocaine, or other pain relief formulas. Saline solutions or hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean wounds. For bee stings, apply a baking soda-water mixture, let it dry, and then gently scrape out the stinger. Contact your vet or find an emergency clinic for serious bleeding, deep wounds, or a red or swollen surface wound.
I'm Sorry - Did I Do That?
Bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate) has also been used for diarrhea in dogs, but also check with your vet for a proper dose. These drugs should NEVER be used in cats, as they contain salicylates (aspirin-like agents) which can be fatal. Severe or prolonged diarrhea (> 1 day) may need emergency treatment.
Fireworks, Thunder, or Other Anxieties?
Signs of stress of anxiety might include excessive barking, changes in appetite, licking or biting, aggression, hiding, trembling, panting and restlessness, among others.
First try to minimize stress in your dogs life, give them plenty of daily love, exercise, and fresh food and water. Consult with your vet to rule out medical causes of stress. Medications are avoided if possible, but some drug treatments your vet might prescribe as a last resort include: clomipramine (Clomicalm), fluoxetine (Prozac), or amitriptyline (Elavil). Sileo (dexmedetomidine) is a drug specifically for anxiety in dogs caused by fireworks or other noises.
It's Your Responsibility: Keep Pets Safe
Owners should keep human medicines away from pets (for example, do not leave out on a nightstand), place pill bottles high up on a counter, and pick up dropped medications immediately.
Always consult with your vet about OTC use of drugs for pets, and keep emergency contact numbers -- including emergency night clinics and the Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435) -- close-by. Your pet loves you unconditionally, so do the same for him or her: ask your vet about any human medication before you give it to your best friend.
Finished: Is it Safe to Give Human Medicine to Pets?
- Wolff A, DVM. Your dog's medicine cabinet. September 16, 2015. PetPlace. Accessed July 29, 2016 at http://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/first-aid-for-dogs/nursing-care-for-sick-dogs/your-dogs-medicine-cabinet
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pain Medicine for Pets: Know the Risks. Consumer Health Information. November 2013. Accessed 7/29/2016 at https://www.drugs.com/fda-consumer/pain-medicines-for-pets-know-the-risks-280.html
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medication Errors Happen to Pets, Too. Consumer Health Information. November 2012. Accessed 7/29/2016 at https://www.drugs.com/fda-consumer/medication-errors-happen-to-pets-too-233.html
- Khuly P, DVM. My Top 10 List of Over-the-Counter Human Meds That Can Be Used on Pets. Vetstreet.com Nov. 15, 2011. Accessed 7/29/2016 at http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/my-top-10-list-of-over-the-counter-human-meds-that-can-be-used-on-pets.