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Top 10 Poison Medications For Pets

When pets take medication prescribed for someone else they are at risk of illness or even death, just like people! While many medications are used in both animals and people, the effects and doses needed aren't the same. About twenty-five percent of all phone calls to Animal Poison Control ((888) 426-4435) are about human medications. Your pet can easily ingest harmful medications as many have sweetend coatings or may be given unknowingly by an owner.

The 10 most common human medication complaints the Poison Control received are here, listed in order based on their number of complaints:

  1. Ibuprofenibuprofen Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) was the most common human medication ingested by pets. Many brands have the sweet outer coating that makes it appealing to pets (think "M&M," but potentially deadly one). Ibuprofen causes ulcers and kidney failure.
  2. Tramadol – Tramadol (Ultram®) is a pain reliever. Dr Cowden may prescribe it for your pet, but at a dose that's appropriate. Too much tramadol can cause sedation or agitation, wobbliness, disorientation, vomiting, shaking, muscle twitching and possibly seizures.
  3. Alprazolam – Alprazolam (Xanax®) is prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication and a sleep-aid. Most pets that ingest alprazolam can become sleepy and wobbly; however some become very agitated instead. These pills are commonly ingested by pets as people put them out on the nightstand to remind them to take at bed time. Large doses of alprazolam can drop the blood pressure and cause weakness lethargy & collapsing.
  4. Adderall®acetaminophen Adderall® is a combination of four different amphetamines and is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This medication doesn't have the same effect in pets as it does in people; it is a stimulant in our pets and causes elevated heart rate and body temperature, along with hyperactivity, tremors and seizures. It can even cause a heart attack.
  5. Zolpidem – Zolpidem (Ambien®) is a sleep-aid for people. Pets commonly eat pills left on the nightstand as with Xanax. Zolpidem may make cats wobbly and sleepy, but most pets become very agitated, develop elevated heart rates and can become aggressive.
  6. Clonazepam – Clonazepam (Klonopin®) is used as an anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety medication. It is sometimes also prescribed as a sleep-aid. When animals ingest clonazepam they can become sleep and wobbly. Too much clonazepam can lower the blood pressure, leading to lethargy and an inability to walk.
  7. Acetaminophen – Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is a very common pain killer found in most households. Cats are extremely sensitive to acetaminophen, but dogs can be affected too. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage. It can also cause damage to your pet's red blood cells so that the cells are unable to carry oxygen. I recall a client whose cat was in heat, and was crying and vocalizing. The owner thought the cat was in pain and gave it just a small amount of pediatric tylenol. After 4 hours the cat was much less vocal and she repeated the dose. After 2 more hours the cat was unable to breath because her blood cells couldn't carry oxygen. Never give medicine to your pet without asking, please!
  8. NaproxenAleve Naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®) is an over-the-counter pain reliever. Dogs and cats are very sensitive to naproxen and even small amounts can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
  9. Duloxetine – Duloxetine (Cymbalta®) is an antidepressant and anti-anxiety agent. When ingested by pets it again causes the opposite effect of agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures.
  10. Venlafaxine – Venlafaxine (Effexor®) is an antidepressant. For some unknown reason, cats love to eat the capsules. Ingestion will cause agitation, vocalization, tremors and seizures and posssibly death.

As you can see from this list, a medication that does one thing for people does not necessarily do the same in our pets. And although this may be a list of the most common medications which the APCC receives complaints for, remember that any medication can pose a risk to your pets – not just these.