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
Famotidine, 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.