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The Dos and Don’t of OTC Meds For Dogs

Have you ever been tempted to give your pet some of your over the counter meds from your medicine to cure their common illnesses? Telling which medicines are safe to give your dogs and which are not can be tricky. Additionally, every breed of dog, and every dog for that matter will react to over the counter (OTC) meds differently. It’s important to check with your vet before administering any medications to your dog.

If you have a Collie or any other herding breed you need to be extra cautious when giving your dog OTC meds. Collies and other herding breeds have a genetic mutation which makes it unsafe to for them to ingest many of the OTC medications listed below. Again, please check with your vet before administering any medications to your pet. Additionally, the medications below are being explained for administration to dog, not cats or any other animals.

OTC Medicine For Dogs

*Please note, these medications are available without a prescription but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.*

Acetaminophen | Tylenol

Acetaminophen is commonly known as Tylenol and alleviates pain in dogs. This drug is in the non-opiate analgesics class and can reduce pain but is not related to morphine. Acetaminophen is not a typical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), meaning that it reduces fever as well as pain but does not reduce inflammation.

Acetylsalicylic Acid | Aspirin

Acetylsalicylic acid, or Aspirin, is commonly used for dogs to treat minor pain and inflammation for chronic conditions such as arthritis. Unlike Tylenol, Aspirin is a drug that reduces inflammation, fever, and relieves pain. Aspirin belongs to the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs commonly abbreviated as NSAIDs.

Aspirin is available without a prescription but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.

Bismuth Subsalicylate | Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate

Bismuth subsalicylate, better known as Pepto-Bismol, is used to treat diarrhea and minor stomach problems, such as stomach inflammation. The active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol and the new formulation of Kaopectate is salicylate and two tablespoons of Pepto-Bismol contain almost as much salicylate as one aspirin tablet.

Cetirizine | Zyrtec

Cetirizine, commonly known by the brand name Zyrtec, is a type of antihistamine commonly recommended for dogs experiencing excessive itching due to an allergic reaction to a substance.

Dimenhydrinate | Dramamine

Dimenhydrinate, more commonly known as Dramamine®, is used to treat nausea and motion sickness. Dimenhydrinate is an antihistamine that inhibits stimulation of the vestibular system of the brain. The vestibular system is located within the inner ear and is responsible for detecting motion. Excessive or overstimulation of the vestibular system can result in dizziness, nausea, and stumbling. Your pet is most likely to exhibit these symptoms during travel.

Diphenhydramine | Benadryl

Diphenhydramine, commonly known as Benadryl, is one of the most popular human and over-the-counter pet medications. Diphenhydramine is used primarily to treat allergic symptoms, itchy skin and allergic reactions such as that caused by a drug or an insect bite but can also be used to treat motion sickness and vomiting.

Fexofenadine | Allegra, Telfast

Fexofenadine, commonly known as Allegra or Telfast, is a second generation antihistamine drug that may be used to control itching and other signs related to allergic conditions. It is important only to use products that indicate the active ingredient is Fexofenadine. Formulas containing Fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine, such as Allegra-D can be toxic to dogs.

Ibuprofen | Motrin, Advil, etc

Ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter drug, known better as Motrin or Advil, and can be used to reduce swelling and inflammation in dogs. Ibuprofen is most often used to treat arthritis and musculoskeletal pain.

Loperamide | Imodium

Loperamide, commonly known as Imodium, is used to treat diarrhea in dogs. Imodium should be used with caution in pets with hypothyroidism, kidney disease, Addison’s disease, elderly pets or severely debilitated animals.

Loratadine | Claritin, Alavert

Loratadine, commonly known as Claritin or Alavert, is a type of antihistamine drug commonly used in dogs to control itchy skin. Loratadine is typically considered less sedating than other antihistamines.

Naproxen | Naprosyn, Aleve

Naproxen, commonly known as Aleve or Naprosyn, is used to alleviate pain and inflammation in dogs. Naproxen, like other NSAIDs, reduces pain, inflammation, and fever.

Learn More With PetPlace

Whether you’re looking for information on dog breeds, behaviors, or medical care, we have all you need to know and more. With over 10,000 vet approved articles, we take pride in being one of the biggest online sources of pet information. Please do not give any medications to your pet without first discussing the treatment with your vet. Every pet is different, and everything from size to breed can affect how your pet responds to OTC meds.