Human Medications that are harmful to your pets are all around us. We don’t realize sometimes that medications that are safe for us, may not be so safe for your pets.
Cats and dogs don’t metabolize all drugs like we do – and thus they can get into some serious trouble. It’s always a smart thing to keep your medications well out of reach and to have any poison control numbers (the Pet Poison hot line is (800) 213-6680, ASPA poison hot line is (888) 426-4435), vet and emergency vet information on hand in case of any emergency.
The list below gives a description of what medications can be commonly found in some households, their symptoms and even what some of the alternative names for those medications can be. If you’re unsure what a medication is – always check the label for the main ingredients to see what the base ingredient is or call your vet should it be a medication from your pharmacy.
NSAIDS (also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, NSAID, NSAIDs, ibuprofen, naproxen, carprofen, deracoxib, meloxicam, etogesic, diclofenac) are probably one of the most common in everyone’s household. They can cause serious issues in even the smallest doses – for dogs, stomach upset and intestinal ulcers, for cats – kidney damage. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, bloody vomitus, black-tarry stool, inappetance, lethargy, overt urination or thirst, general malaise, abdominal pain, and seizures or death.
Acetometaphin also more commonly known as Tylenol (also paracetamol and APAP), in cats, will cause red blood cell damage, and interfere with their ability to transoport oxygen. Cats are especially sensitive. In dogs, it can cause damage to the liver at higher doses and red blood cell damage as well. Symptoms can include lethargy, swelling of the face/paws, difficulty breathing, brown/blue gums, vomiting, no appetite, black-tarry stool, jaundice.
Baclofen (brand names Kemstro, Lioresal, and Gablofen) is a muscle relaxant that can impair the central nervous systems of cats and dogs. Symptoms can include significant depression, disorientation, vocalization, seizures and coma, which can lead to death.
ADHD Medications (such as Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin) used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in people act as stimulants in pets and can dangerously elevate heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature, as well as cause seizures.
Amphetamines such as the ones listed above (ADHD) can come in a variety of names. ADD medication, ADHD medication, methylphenidate, ecstasy, methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, amphetamine, Adderall, D-amphetamine, Dexedrine, methamphetamine, Desoxyn, lisdexamfetamine, Vyvanse. All of these are dangerous and can cause the following symptoms; agitation, aggression, panting, sedation, elevated heart rate, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures.
Antidepressants (such as SSRIs, antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Cymbalta, Effexor, Prozac, Reconcile, fluoxetine, citalopram, escitalopram, paroxetine, sertraline, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, selective norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors, SNRIs, duloxetine, nefazodone, Serzone, venlafaxine) can cause vomiting and lethargy and certain types can lead to serotonin syndrome – this syndrome can include agitation, elevated body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, disorientation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.
Fluorouracil is used topically to treat minor skin cancers and solar keratitis in humans. It is rapidly fatal to dogs, causing severe vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest even in the smallest of amounts. Symptoms can include seizures, vomiting (with and without blood), tremors, diarrhea (with and without blood), ataxia (uncoordinated movement), and depression.
Isoniazid (also known as INH) is especially toxic for dogs. This is generally used as the first line of defense against TB (tuberculosis). They don’t metabolize the medication as well as other species and so it can cause a very speedy onset of severe seizures that may result in death.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant in many cold and sinus products, and acts like a stimulant if ingested by pets. Symptoms can include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, changes in behavior (agitation, restlessness), increased heart rate, muscle tremors and seizures.
Anti-Diabetics (such as glipizide and glyburide) cause a major drop in blood sugar levels of pets that have injested it. Symptoms can include disorientation, lack of coordination and seizures.
Vitamin D in even the smallest amounts, (like calcipotriene and calcitriol) can cause life-threatening spikes in blood calcium levels in pets. Symptoms can include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased urination and thirst due to kidney failure. These signs often don’t occur for more than 24 hours after ingestion.
Ace-Inhibitors ( medication such as cardiac medication, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, enalapril, captopril, lisinopril, ramipril, imidapril, benazepril, Lotensin, Capoten, Vasotec, Prinivel, Zestril) Symptoms can include hypotension (low blood pressure), dizziness, and weakness.
Sleep Medications (such as Lunesta, Ambien, zolpidem, eszopiclone, zaleplon, Sonata.) In both dogs and cats symptoms can include severe sedation, severe agitation, hyperactivity, aggression, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, walking drunk, tremors, hyperthermia, and respiratory or cardiovascular depression. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure when ingested.