Is it safe to give my dog human medication?

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Human drugs are frequently used in veterinary medicine to treat a number of animal diseases. Your veterinarian has knowledge relating to these pharmaceutical agents and knows when they are required. Unfortunately, pets at home can often consume human medication and this can be fatal.

Only use human drugs in dogs and cats when they have been prescribed by a veterinarian. Sometimes generic human drugs are available to veterinarians for use in animals for a variety of conditions, but never administer human drugs without first speaking to a veterinarian. Sometimes they are used as they are more readily available or more economically viable, and come in the correct formulation or concentration needed to treat your animal. Human medications are sometimes produced in the incorrect formulation or concentration, making them impossible to dose to your pet. Most human medications are based on an average body size of approximately 70kg and there are very few dogs who weigh this amount. Paracetamol is a very safe drug in humans but in animals it can be deadly. It is extremely toxic to cats and even at a recommended dose it can be overly toxic to dogs. Severe liver toxicity occurs with resulting jaundice and death.

If a pet has eaten human medication, I would advise the owner to take the animal to a veterinary hospital immediately, along with the medication box or container of the ingested medicine.

Sometimes no medical intervention is required, but in other cases the veterinarian would need to induce vomiting. Symptomatic and supportive care would be required and sometimes an antidote can be given.

Throughout my career I have seen many animals who have ingested their owners’ medication or have sometimes been mistakenly given human medications. Sometimes it is simple for the veterinarian to treat, but many times the drugs can be fatal. Routine human medications are often dangerous in animals. It is always imperative that owners are diligent about where they keep their medication so that their pets do not find and eat tablets.

Small animal veterinarian 

You can find more veterinary questions and answers in every issue of Animaltalk.

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