Seeing your pet in pain hurts you almost as much as it hurts your pet. That’s why many pet owners turn to their own medicine cabinet when it’s late at night and their beloved companion is suffering. But, these medications can be poisons in disguise. Side effects of human over-the-counter pain medications range from mild to severe, and may cause death. Know the hazards of the following common pain relievers that you may have in your medicine cabinet:

  • Aspirin can be used to treat pain in cats and dogs—it’s marketed for dogs in pet stores. But, many people believe aspirin is a benign pain reliever, although it can quickly tip over into dangerous levels. Aspirin can be extremely toxic to cats if a proper dosing regimen is not followed, and can also harm a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Overdoses are common, especially for cats who do not have the enzymes necessary to properly metabolize aspirin. Signs of aspirin overdose include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach ulcers.
  • Aleve and Advil, or naproxen and ibuprofen, are toxic for pets and should never be given to your cat or dog. At lower doses, overdose signs include vomiting and diarrhea. At higher doses, kidney failure may occur, leading to dehydration, excessive thirst and urination, and death.
  • Unlike aspirin, Aleve, and Advil, Tylenol, or acetaminophen, is not a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Acetaminophen is classified as a mild pain reliever and has no anti-inflammatory properties, although it can alleviate many of the same signs. Acetaminophen is occasionally prescribed for dogs as part of a multimodal pain management plan; however, administration without veterinary guidance can easily lead to toxicity. Even at miniscule doses, acetaminophen is highly toxic for cats, who, as with aspirin, lack the necessary enzymes for proper metabolism. There is no safe acetaminophen dose for cats. Acetaminophen overdose may appear as an upset stomach, but can progress to liver failure, which may include vomiting, lethargy, bruising, or bleeding.
  • Human prescription pain relievers are relatively common in U.S. households, and these opioid products are often used in veterinary medicine, as well. But, although they are also prescribed for pets, they cannot be safely administered from your post-operative pain reliever prescription. Dogs and cats are not small humans, and dosing requirements are vastly different. Some medications are dosed at a much higher range for pets, while others are safe only in low amounts. If you suspect your pet has ingested a dropped pain reliever, or if you accidentally mixed your medication with your pet’s, contact us, or a poison control hotline, immediately.
  • Pet-prescription pain relievers, while usually safe, can turn deadly if used incorrectly. Pet owners may see an impressive improvement in their pet’s osteoarthritis and mobility with a fraction of a tablet, and believe more is better, especially on those stiffer days. They give their pet a full tablet or increase the frequency, which can be extremely hazardous to her health. If your pet is on pain medication but still seems uncomfortable, call us and we can see if there’s room to safely increase the dose, or if we need to add or change medications.
  • Cannabis is becoming a widely popular substance used to treat everything from seizures to anxiety to pain. In terms of legality and usage, cannabidiol, or CBD products, can be tricky to navigate. Keep in mind while searching for a CBD product for your pet that CBD is not the same as THC, which is the substance that causes a “high” that is toxic to pets. The source of CBD also varies, and finding a quality, legal product can be difficult because the products are loosely—if at all—regulated. While more research in companion animals is needed, early studies have shown that CBD and other compounds found in the cannabis plant can help to mitigate symptoms of various medical conditions. But, if your pet consumes a product with THC, toxicity can occur, which may lead to the following signs:
    • Incoordination
    • Dilated pupils
    • Hyperactivity
    • Vocalization
    • Excessive drooling
    • Vomiting
    • Urinary incontinence
    • Lethargy

Talk to us before giving your pet any human medication. While some over-the-counter products may be safe, they aren’t nearly as effective as veterinary products, and they limit the aid we can provide if they’ve already been administered. 

Is your pet suffering? Call us to schedule an appointment, and we can safely relieve her pain.