Keeping your Dog off (Harmful) Drugs

We all want to take great care of our dogs, and when they aren’t feeling well many think of solutions like Ibuprofen, Tylenol or other drugs that solve human pain. But your pet’s metabolism and organs function differently than yours, and medication that may greatly improve your symptoms may be a toxic poison to your dog.

Dogs commonly gain access to human medications. Or, they are given these medications by a well-intentioned (but misinformed) owner. Human medication can easily be given in an overdose amount, and some human medications are toxic to dogs.

Some of the most common over-the-counter medications can result in serious illness if not used properly.

The truth is, you should never give your dog any medication without approval from your veterinarian. It’s true that many medications available for people can help animals, but you must be careful to give the correct medication in the proper dosages for your dog. Some medications that may be safe for dogs when used as the only medication can be toxic when mixed with other medications. It is important that you consult your veterinarian to avoid serious effects from overdose or toxicity of medications.

There are a variety of signs of toxicity that depend on the type of medication taken. Hyperactivity, vomiting, abdominal pain, bleeding stomach ulcers, blood disorders, constipation, liver damage and kidney damage are just a few of the complications that have been associated with improper use of over-the-counter medications.

We’ve created several articles on how common drugs like Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Tylenol and others can effect dogs. We’ve pulled many of them together in this piece to give you a quick look at the possible outcomes and dangers.

Ibuprofen Toxicity in Dogs

Ibuprofen is a popular and effective over-the-counter medication available to treat pain and inflammation in people. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (commonly referred to as a NSAID).

For dogs, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning owner trying to alleviate pain in his dog who administers a dose he thinks is adequate without knowing the toxic dose.

The most commonly affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or kidneys. Hepatopathy (liver damage) is also possible.

The initial toxic effect is bleeding stomach ulcers. In addition to ulcers, increasing doses of ibuprofen eventually leads to kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal. Liver injury and disease is also possible.

Young dogs, senior dogs, and dogs with preexisting conditions affecting the heart, liver and kidneys are at higher risk of toxicity. Dogs taking other NSAID drugs or steroids are at much greater risk of toxicity.

There is no home care for ibuprofen toxicity. Veterinary care is strongly suggested to treat kidney failure and bleeding stomach ulcers.

While recovering from ibuprofen toxicity, feed your dog a bland diet for one to two days. Gradually return to a normal diet. Watch for failure to eat, vomiting and continued black tarry stools.

Aspirin Toxicity in Dogs

Aspirin toxicity (salicylate toxicity) is poisoning that occurs following the ingestion of aspirin or aspirin-containing products. Aspirin toxicity usually occurs because of the ingestion of improperly stored drugs or the administration of the incorrect dose of aspirin.

Cats are more susceptible to the effects of aspirin than are dogs because they are unable to metabolize the drug as quickly. Young animals are more susceptible to the toxic effects than are adult animals.

Aspirin toxicity may cause gastrointestinal problems, respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders, and kidney failure. Gastrointestinal problems are common in dogs whereas central nervous system depression is most common in cats.

Tylenol Toxicity in Dogs

Acetaminophen is a medication commonly used to alleviate fever and pain. Common brands include Tylenol, Percoset, aspirin free Excedrin and various sinus, cold and flu medications. Dogs most commonly receive toxic amounts of acetaminophen because owners medicate them without consulting a veterinarian. They also consume tablets that are dropped on the floor or left lying around.

Dogs are less sensitive to acetaminophen than cats. For example, a 50 pound dog would need to ingest over seven 500 mg tablets in order to suffer toxic effects. In the cat, one 250 mg acetaminophen tablet could be fatal.