In the movie “Moonlight Mile,” actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s character gives his dog two teaspoons of Pepto-Bismol with his food every morning. According to the American Kennel Club’s chief veterinary officer Dr. Jerry Klein, giving your pooch Pepto-Bismol can cause gastric bleeding because of the salicylates in the medication.
“If it must be given, offer no more than one or two doses after consulting with your veterinarian,” he says. On the other hand, if your dog does have an upset tummy, Pepcid-AC is a far safer drug, but always consult with your vet before administering any human medication.
“It’s important to remember that cats are not small dogs and dogs are not small people,” Dr. Sid Lehr, a small animal veterinarian in Palm Beach County, Florida, tells Newsmax. “Their physiology is different so if there is a margin for error in humans with certain drugs, there may be no margin of error in pets, so giving small animals medications made for us can be deadly.”
Here are 10 of the most common culprits:
- NSAIDs. Medications such as Advil, Aleve, and Motrin top the list of dangerous drugs. Even one or two pills can cause serious harm to pets, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.
- Acetaminophen. Even one Tylenol tablet can damage a cat’s red blood cells, says Lehr. In dogs, this drug leads to liver failure.
- Antidepressants. While drugs such as Prozac and Lexapro are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to severe neurological damage. Pets, especially cats, like the taste of Effaxor and often eat the entire pill, which can lead to poisoning.
- Benzodiazepines and sleep aids. While these medications are formulated to make us less anxious and sleep better, in pets they have the opposite effect and cause agitation. They can also cause severe lethargy and incoordination, so the animal may appear to be “walking drunk.”
- Birth control pills. Dogs often find the packaging of birth control pills irresistible. Small doses may not cause severe damage, but ingesting large amounts of estrogen or progesterone can cause bone marrow suppression.
- ACE Inhibitors. While these blood pressure medications can be used to treat pets, overdoses can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, and weakness. Keep all heart medications out of reach.
- Beta-blockers. Also used to treat high blood pressure, this class of drugs can cause serious, life-threatening damage to pets even in small doses.
- Thyroid hormones. Drugs like Synthroid are often used to treat underactive thyroids in dogs, but large, acute doses can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, and a rapid heart rate.
- Cholesterol lowering agents. Drugs like Lipitor, Crestor, and other statins may not cause serious damage if accidentally ingested one time, but they can be dangerous with long-term use.
- ADD/ADHD medications. Medications like Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin contain potent stimulants like amphetamines. Even a minimal ingestion of these drugs can cause life-threatening tremors and seizures as well as elevated temperature and heart problems.
To avoid accidental ingestion, never leave pills in a Ziploc bag as they are easily chewed. Don’t store your medications near your pet’s pills so you don’t inadvertently give your pet your prescription. Hang your purse out of reach. Curious pets love to explore the contents of your bag.
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