A few years ago my cat became extremely ill and it was unknown what caused it. I had rushed him to a 24 hr Veterinary clinic in my area and they asked me a ton of questions about what he could have eaten or been exposed to and I couldn’t think of anything. Finally, we deducted that he may have licked or eaten some of the high blood medication that was in the house. It was extremely scary but after a few days and some treatment by the clinic, he was fine and perfectly back to normal.
Since that time, we’ve made extra steps to make sure no medications are left out and no bottles are within reach of the cats. Leaving a bottle open on a counter top, dropping a pill on the floor, or packing for a trip where your medication is left out for a few minutes can give your dog or cat an opportunity to explore and ingest something that could make them ill or worse.
The top 10 common household medications that the Pet Poison Hot-line (1-800-213-6680) receives calls about are:
1: Cholesterol drugs – This drug treats a problem that dogs do not have but will cause an upset stomach and vomiting and diarrhea.
2: Thyroid drugs – Interestingly enough, dogs who are prescribed thyroid treatment require doses much larger than what people are given. If a dog accidentally gets into your med, chances are nothing will happen unless a large quantity of the medication is ingested. Muscle tremors, panting, and a rapid heartbeat can occur if this is the case for your dog or cat.
3: Beta blockers – this medication can cause serious side effects in dogs and cats lowering their heart rate to a dangerous level. It doesn’t take much to be fatal to your pet.
4: Birth Control – Most dogs aren’t going to have any major issues if they get these pills but if a dog has an opportunity to ingest large doses they may have some bone marrow problems. Typical symptoms of getting one or two pills would be an upset stomach and some vomiting.
5: ACE Inhibitors – ingesting this medication can be similar to beta blockers but not as severe. Still, it’s important to keep these out of reach of pets.
6: Benzodiazepines and Sleep Aids – For us, these drugs help us sleep better and reduce anxiety. In pets, it causes the opposite effect. Dogs and cats may become more agitated and then suffer from severe lethargy and in-coordination. Some forms of these drugs can cause liver failure in cats.
7: ADHD drugs – The medication used to help people with ADHD can actually be deadly to dogs. Tremors, seizures, and elevated body temperatures along with heart problems can result from a dog chomping down a few of these pills.
8: Acetaminophen – This pain medication can cause liver damage and red blood cell damage to dogs and cats. It limits the oxygen that is in their blood.
9: NSAIDS – One or two pills can cause ulcers in the stomach or kidneys for your pet and kidney damage.
10: Antidepressants – While dogs and cats are sometimes prescribed medication to help alleviate their moods, the human dosages can actually cause agitation. The heart rate can be elevated and tremors or seizures can occur.
The best thing we can do to protect our pets is to prevent them from having access to these medications. Keep the caps on tight and keep them in a cabinet where your pet and children can not access them. If you use the 7 day pill container, keep it somewhere where your pet cannot get it. Dogs may think that it’s a plastic chew toy and get a whole plethora of drugs at once. If you carry your medication in your bag or purse, get in the habit of hanging it up on a coat hook or in the closet. It’s better to be safe than sorry!