bathroom binges

The medicine chest may be the place you look to feel better, but it’s a poison hotspot for furry friends. Human medications are peculiarly attractive to pets – perhaps it's the challenge of chewing through a child-proof bottle! But the trouble is that they can cause serious damage to curious canines.

These claims are also among the most costly to treat, often requiring hospital stays to stabilize furry friends. NSAID and acetaminophen toxicities carry the highest average reimbursement of all poisoning claims ($840 and $700, respectively), and the record for Petplan's largest poisoning claim goes to a small dog who ate his pet parent's prescription medication. He ended up okay, but Petplan reimbursed his pet parents $5,590 to get him back on all four paws.

items to keep off your pet’s plate:

  • acetaminophen (Tylenol): One tablet may be safe for pet parents, but can most decidedly be dangerous for a dog (again, the smaller the dog, the smaller the dose needs to be to do harm). Our feline friends lack the ability to break down acetaminophen, so even a tiny dose can cause toxic liver failure.
  • antidepressants: Common prescriptions like Prozac and Paxil and similar medications can cause severe neurologic problems, sedation and tremors.
  • amphetamines: Commonly used to treat ADD and ADHD, medications like Adderall can cause damage to a pet’s neurologic system, causing tremors and seizures.
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs): These include ibuprofen and naproxen, and can lead to gastric ulcers and internal bleeding. Eaten on an empty stomach, the toxic effects are even more serious. Can dogs take ibuprofen? Yes, but because of the risk of overdose – even if it’s your pet’s prescription – keep it well out of paws’ reach and only offer the proper dose.
  • veterinary pain relievers: Medicines like Rimadyl® that are specially formulated for dogs are often flavored, making them appealing and easy to offer. But it also makes them more prone to accidental overdosing, which can cause kidney failure and stomach ulcers.

terrifying tail: bathroom debacle

It was a quiet afternoon in January until Sammi noticed her dog Zeus had managed to knock over the bathroom trash. The problem was, there had been several tablets of cold and sinus medication (containing acetaminophen) in the bin, and now they were gone. Sammi immediately called poison control and was instructed to induce vomiting, but no tablets showed up. At the vet, Zeus was given fluids and monitored for any signs of toxicity, but thankfully he responded well to treatment. After a few days on a bland diet, he was back in fine form – and all trash cans were safely out of paw’s reach!

set-up for success

  • Be sure to keep all medications – human and pet-specific alike – out of reach and in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave medication on a counter top or in an open handbag, because eager-beaver noses will search them out and snaffle them down as an unexpected treat.