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There are thousands of drugs on the market for humans and animals. Drug categories include antibiotics, chemotherapy, anti-inflammatory, acid-reducing stomach medications, allergy medications, pain medications, anti-anxiety, anti-nausea, anti-vomiting, and many more.
Many medications used to treat dogs and cats are human medications. However, it is important to know that some human drugs can be given to pets safely and other drugs are very unsafe. In fact, some commonly used human drugs are extremely toxic. One example of an unsafe medication is acetaminophen, also known by the trade name Tylenol®. Acetaminophen is a human medication used to reduce pain, fever, and symptoms associated with the cold or flu. Small amounts of acetaminophen are toxic to cats and can cause severe illness and possibly death.
On the other hand, there are human drugs that are safe to use in pets. In fact, many human drugs are exactly the same as the pet drug. Numerous pet prescriptions are filled at human pharmacies including heart medications, anti-depressants, and antibiotics just to name a few. There are also many over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can be safely used in dogs and cats that don’t require a prescription including famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and Cetirizine (Zantac).
Below we will give you information about four human medications that are vet approved and tell you how they can be used safely in dogs and cats.
All About Famotidine for Dogs and Cats
, commonly known by the brand name Pepcid®, is a histamine H2 receptor antagonist that decreases the production of acid in the stomach. It has been used in human medication since the late 1970’s. The most common use is to treat heartburn and ulcerations in both humans and dogs.
Famotidine is commonly used in human medications and veterinary medicine due to its improved mechanism of action and length of action as compared to other drugs in its class. Famotidine has largely replaced previous histamine H2 receptor antagonist generation drugs, such as Cimetidine. We will discuss more on Cimetidine below.
Famotidine is available in both injectable and oral tablets in multiple sizes. Common oral sizes include 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg. The larger milligram sizes are prescription but the 10 mg size is a common over-the-counter size that can be found in most pharmacies.
There are minimal risks associated with Famotidine although there are drug interactions with digoxin and ketoconazole.
Learn more about how to dose and use Famotidine safely in dogs and in cats.
The typical dose of Famotidine given to dogs is 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg per pound orally every twelve to twenty-four hours. Common doses of Famotidine in dogs and cats include:
- A 20-pound dog would need 5 to 10 mg per dose every 12 to 24 hours.
- A 50-pound dog would require a dose of 12.5 mg to 25 mg total dose every 12 to 24 hours.
- A 10-pound cat would require 2.5 to 5 mg as a total dose every 12 to 24 hours.
Since the most common OTC size of famotidine is 10 mg. As you can see above the dose can vary from ¼ pill in small dogs and cats to 2 ½ pills in large dogs.
All About Cimetidine for Dogs and Cats
Cimetidine, commonly known by the brand name Tagamet®
among others, is a histamine H2 receptor antagonist that decreases the production of acid in the stomach. It has been used in human medication since the late 1970’s.
Cimetidine is less commonly used today in human medications and veterinary medicine due to the development of new and better drugs in the class of histamine H2 receptor antagonist. Cimetidine has effects on the cytochrome P450 enzyme system which can lead to various drug interactions. Such drug interactions include certain antacids, metoclopramide, sucralfate, diazepam, and digoxin.
The newer drugs have fewer drug interactions with longer activity. Newer generation drugs in this class include Famotidine (also known as Pepcid® and discussed above) and Ranitidine (also known as Zantac®).
However, Cimetidine is still used and available and can be used in a pinch if you have a dog with nausea and/or vomiting. Cimetidine is available in both injectable and oral tablet sizes including 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, and 300 mg.
The risks associated with Cimetidine mostly evolves around its interaction with other drugs. If your dog or cat is on other medications, it is better to choose and give a newer generation histamine H2 receptor antagonist such as famotidine (Pepcid®) discussed above that does not have those same possible adverse effects from drug interactions.
Check out this useful drug library article on how to dose Cimetidine in dogs and in cats.
The typical dose of Cimetidine given to dogs is 3 to 5 mg per pound orally every six to eight hours. Common doses of Cimetidine in dogs and cats are:
- A 20-pound dog would need approximately 50 mg to 100 mg per dose every 6 to 8 hours.
- A 50-pound dog would require a dose of 150 mg to 250 mg total dose every 6 to 8 hours.
- A 10-pound cat would require 25 to 50 mg per dose every 6 to 8 hours.
You can purchase 100 mg and 200 mg tablets OTC. If giving the 200 mg strength, the dose can vary from 1/8 of a pill for cats (25mg) to 2 ¼ pills (250 mg).
All About Diphenhydramine for Dogs and Cats
Diphenhydramine, commonly known by the brand name Benadryl® among others
, belongs to a class or drugs known as antihistamines. Diphenhydramine is one of the most popular human and pet over-the-counter medications. There are different types of histamine and the kind that diphenhydramine blocks is a histamine called H1 which results in a reduction or prevention of swelling and itchiness. Diphenhydramine is routinely prescribed for dogs and occasionally in cats for the treatment of symptoms associated with allergies or allergic reactions.
Although diphenhydramine is relatively safe, it is contraindicated in pets with glaucoma, lung disease, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure and prostate enlargement. Please read more about the medications that should not be used with diphenhydramine.
Although diphenhydramine is relatively safe, side effects may include sedation, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite. In fact, it is these side effects that make diphenhydramine a desirable ingredient in sleeping aids in humans and is included with some “pm” drugs such as Tylenol PM or Advil PM. IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not give Tylenol or Advil to your dog or cat as these drugs can be toxic!
Diphenhydramine can be used in either cats or dogs although it is less commonly used in cats due to its bitter taste. Oral use in cats can cause significant but temporary drooling.
Read our useful drug library article for more information on how to dose Diphenhydramine in dogs and in cats.
Diphenhydramine is available over-the-counter medication and available in most drug stores such as Walmart®, CVS® and/or Target®. Diphenhydramine is available in both injectable, oral tablet sizes including 12.5 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg and as an oral suspension available is a 12.5 mg/5 mL oral suspension.
The typical dose of Diphenhydramine given to dogs is 1 mg per pound orally every eight to twelve hours. Commonly recommended dosages of Diphenhydramine in dogs and cats include:
- A 12-pound dog would need 12 mg per dose every 8 to 12 hours.
- A 25-pound dog would need 25 mg per dose every 8 to 12 hours.
- A 50-pound dog would require a dose of 50 mg total dose every 8 to 12 hours.
- A 10-pound cat would require 10 mg to 12.5 per dose every 8 to 12 hours.
If you are breaking pills e.g. giving a half of a pill, make sure you purchase tablets and not capsules. For example, if you have a 12-pound dog, you can give ½ of a 25 mg diphenhydramine to get close to the 12 mg dose.
All About Cetirizine for Dogs and Cats
Cetirizine, commonly known by the brand name Zyrtec® among others
, belongs to a class or drugs known as antihistamines, similar to Benadryl. It is commonly used in dogs with allergic symptoms such as inflamed and/or itchy skin. In cats, Cetirizine is more commonly used to treat inflammation of the nose and sinus. Many pet owners prefer Cetirizine over Benadryl because of its long-lasting effects. With Benadryl, you often have to dose it every 8 to 12 hours and only every 12 to 24 hours with Cetirizine.
Cetirizine is an over-the-counter medication available in most human pharmacies. Cetirizine is available in oral tablet sizes including 5 mg and 10 mg sizes and as an oral syrup in the concentration of 1 mg/mL.
Although Cetirizine is generally safe with little adverse reactions, side effects associated with Cetirizine includes sedation, lethargy, vomiting, drooling, and lack of appetite.
Here is a very good article on how to safely dose Cetirizine in dogs and cats.
The typical dose of Cetirizine given to dogs is 0.5 mg per pound orally every twelve to twenty-four hours. Common doses of Cetirizine in dogs and cats include:
- A 20-pound dog would need 10 mg per dose every 12 – 24 hours.
- A 50-pound dog would require a dose of 25 mg every 12 – 24 hours.
- A 10-pound cat would require 5 mg per dose every 24 hours.
We hope you this article gave you more information on Human Meds That Are Vet Approved and medications that can be safely used in dogs and cats.
Another really good article that covers additional over-the-counter (OTC) medications you can use safely in dogs for pain, diarrhea, vomiting, allergies, bleeding and cough are covered in this article. Go to: 30 Human Over-the-Counter Drugs Safe for Dogs. This article makes a good reference to keep on hand in the case of an emergency with your dog.